Magazine posts category: Knowledge


Human behaviour during a tunnel fire (part 2/3): Motorists use all means of escape

The evaluation of tunnel incidents has shown: Tunnel users do not necessarily follow the designated escape routes. They try to use all means to get out of a tunnel: Turning their vehicle around, getting into other vehicles, and trying to escape on foot through the tunnel tube to the portal. All this corresponds to the natural escape behaviour of humans, including remaining in the vehicle. It is because people perceive several different risks, which they weigh against each other to make their…


Robotics in firefighting operations: technology influences tactics

Before fire services can use the potential of robots on a larger scale, Robert Grafe, Managing Director of the German Rescue Robotics Centre (Deutschen Rettungsrobotik-Zentrums; DRZ) in Dortmund, sees a considerable need for research and development. It does not primarily refer to the utilised technologies. Rather, it is about practical experience gained through field research and from incident operations.


Smoke generator for practices and trials in tunnels

For drills and trials in newly constructed tunnels, fire services in Hesse wanted a smoke generator that would allow them to simulate the behaviour of fire smoke during a major incident in a tunnel as realistically as possible. But such a device did not exist until now. This lack was shown in 2019 by a market analysis conducted by district fire inspector Christian Sasse (Werra-Meissner district). After this analysis, development work began on the FT-SDAN 500 tunnel fire simulator, which Volker…


Human behaviour during a tunnel fire (part 1/3): Every tunnel user can be in need of help

Modern road tunnels support self-rescue with their safety installations. But people do not behave in an ideal way - especially not in dangerous situations. Even if a tunnel facility meets all safety standards, every person in the tunnel can be at risk during a fire - not just people for whom escape would be troublesome. Unfavourable behaviour is often simply human. It is something that firefighters should also expect. In our three-part series, we first look at the behaviour of tunnel users in…


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.


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.