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Brief report on the 9th Fire Chief Forum: Insights and impetus

The appreciative feedback of the participants to the 9th Fire Chief Forum in Sursee (CH) shows: The forum as a non-public space for (self-)critical, honest exchange about incident operations, drills and developments is an important building block in preparation for incidents in railway and road tunnels. In the following article, we present interesting findings from the most recent Fire Chief Forum held in March 2023 and highlight the broad range of topics covered at this event.

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Why only white smoke rises from our training tunnels

«Why do you only use white and not black training smoke?» This is a question asked by many course participants who prepare for deployment in our training tunnels. The simple answer is: White training smoke, when used correctly, is not harmful to health or the environment and is perfectly sufficient for our training goals. In this article, we explain the benefits of white training smoke and provide guidance on using smoke fluids for operational drills. 


Seattle Fire Department tests Swiss Tunnel Firefighting Procedure

The Seattle Fire Department is currently creating its own tunnel operations procedure to address a variety of road, rail and metro tunnels and the challenges they present to responders. Operational planners had already informed themselves at the International Fire Academy in 2016. At the end of 2022, 14 North American fire service colleagues came to Balsthal to gain practical experience with our operational procedures and get ideas for their further development work. In the process, the Swiss…


How we guide fire services on their way to their tunnel training

A fire in a railway or road tunnel can endanger many people within a short time. How many firefighters are needed for such an incident depends on many factors. Therefore, there is no across-the-board answer to the question: How much training does a fire service need for tunnel operations? Instead, a development process is necessary. Our guide shows the most important steps on the «pathway to your training», which fire services can also use for their meetings with the financing body.


State Fire Service School optimises tunnel train-the-trainer courses

In cooperation with the Baden-Württemberg State Fire Service School, the International Fire Academy has integrated online elements into the tunnel training for the first time in order to increase the practical part of the attendance days in Switzerland. The basis for the changes was a survey of former participants. The wish list included more time for practical training on the facilities and more substantial support for conducting training with the fire services at home. We present the new…

A person on the track communicates by hand signal with a train driver

Why train drivers are grateful for a hand signal during firefighting operations

The International Fire Academy instructs: If a rail vehicle approaches the scene of the incident, the driver must be given a hand signal. Course participants frequently wonder whether this is really necessary. That is why we asked a train driver at the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) directly and got the answer: «Yes, it is extremely important. It helps us very much!». Find out why.

Fire burst

Hydrogen vehicles in tunnels: great danger for emergency response personnel

Firefighters can protect themselves against smoke, heat and fire spurts, but not against the blast waves from explosions of hydrogen vehicles in tunnels. Therefore, it is vital to keep a safe distance. However, how can people be saved and fires be fought effectively? There is still no satisfactory answer to this question - although more and more hydrogen-powered vehicles are being registered. That is why the fire services need to work on suitable solutions immediately. This is the most important…

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Interschutz 2022: Expertise in tunnels and underground car parks in international demand

Postponed twice - then the Interschutz finally got underway again. We were able to build on our attendance in 2015 and reached our target audience in Hannover again this year: Fire service supervisors, builders of tunnel facilities and other contacts for preparing for operations in underground transport systems.

Group picture of the participants of the 8th Fire Chief Forum in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

8th Fire Chief Forum: Gaining new knowledge on tunnel operations from research and operations

The 8th Fire Chief Forum placed emphasis on incident reports and covered a broad spectrum: two lorry fires in road tunnels, an underground metro fire, and two train fires, one on open track and the other one within a settlement. Social media and the usage of large mobile fans in deployments were two other topics from the practical side of firefighting operations. Looking beyond the world of fire services, the focus was on the behaviour of those caught up in an evacuation as well as special…