Magazine posts category: Knowledge


Tunnel fires from 2012 to 2023: Statistics from media reports

There are no official statistics on fire incidents in underground transport systems. For this reason, the International Fire Academy has been analysing media reports on fire incidents in tunnels since the beginning of 2012. According to the report, there are at least three fires a month in railway or road tunnels in Switzerland, Austria and Germany alone.

© Nagold Fire Service

Challenging conditions at the underground car park fire

It was the first time the Nagold volunteer fire service was alerted to a major fire in an underground car park beneath an apartment building at 3:01 a.m. on 8 July 2023. The residents of the house with 16 residential units had already left the building. At the end of the operation, fire chief Thomas Reiff was glad that no one was injured, including firefighters, which would not be unusual in such an operation. Since then, the issue of underground car park operations has received increased…


Systematically reduce hazards in the event of hydrogen leaks

At 0:55 a.m. on 21 June 2023, the alarm was raised at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich: Hydrogen leakage in the compressor room on the 2nd basement floor. The initial measures were immediately apparent for Daniel Münzenmayer, a member of the Zurich professional fire service for 37 years. He summarises how he experienced the deployment in his report.

TunnelTrainingKnowledgeFire serviceCourses

Intensive underground car park course for firefighters

Underground car park fires are particularly dangerous - especially for the firefighters. That is why the International Fire Academy has developed a special intensive course. It has now been offered as a «mixed course» for the first time in which individual members of different fire services could participate. The aim is to allow as many fire services as possible to deal with the particular challenges of fires in underground car parks. The 2024 dates have already been advertised.


Digital tables for tactical tabletop simulations in the new Tactics Centre

The International Fire Academy has put its new Tactics Centre into operation. Larger rooms and modern tabletop exercise technology offer significantly better training conditions for tabletop exercises as an essential element of tactical training. The new Tactics Centre is also increasingly being used for valuable tactics workshops.


Airport railway station entirely smoke-filled during train fire

Shortly after being alerted to the fire of an ICE train in the underground Cologne/Bonn airport station on 10 November 2022, the Cologne fire service in charge received an initial all-clear: «ICE already evacuated». Nevertheless, four people suffered smoke inhalation injuries from the fire - three of them outside the station area. Daniel Richmann from the Cologne Fire Service and Luca Battista from the supporting Airport Fire Service at Cologne/Bonn Airport describe the course of the operation.


Everyone wants to get out in an emergency: Lifts as escape routes?

In the Violet Crown Cinema, Austin (USA), Angelika Stenzel-Twinbear first discovered a lift designated as an escape route in case of fire. Since then, she has been intensively involved with this topic because, as a specialist engineer for fire protection and barrier-free planning and construction, she wants to contribute to getting as many people as possible out of the building as quickly as possible in the event of a fire. In our article, she explains how this can be done in practice. She also…


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.