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.
Underground car park fires are particularly dangerous
In recent years, the International Fire Academy has developed a special underground car park training course because fires in underground car parks and multi-storey car parks can be extremely dangerous. It is true that often only a few users are directly affected because - unlike in a road tunnel, for example - there are usually only a few people in a car park at any one time. However, fire smoke often penetrates flats or shops above an underground car park. On 21.11.2022, two people lost their lives in this way in Metzingen (Germany). The risks for emergency personnel are also high: On 27.11.2004, seven firefighters died in Gretzenbach (CH) when an underground car park collapsed during firefighting operations.
Heat and no visibility
Due to the generally low ceiling height in garages, the heat load is exceptionally high. In a road tunnel, even lorry fires can often be fought standing upright. In underground car parks, however, the high temperatures usually force the firefighters to crouch down. The second major challenge is the dense smoke. It obscures the view of the firefighters and can cause them to lose their orientation. This danger is also usually much more significant in underground car parks than in tunnels, as it is easier to get lost.
Tactical ventilation and hose management
Because of the dense smoke, it makes little sense to search for people first in the case of a vehicle fire in an underground car park. You simply can't see anything, especially not into the vehicles. Therefore, the principle applies: «Extinguish and ventilate in order to rescue». Thereby, tactical ventilation plays a vital role. The faster visibility is improved, the greater the chance of extinguishing the fire quickly and reducing the risks for any people in the object and the firefighters.
Underground car parks are an issue for many fire services
While only a few fire services are responsible for tunnels, almost all fire services are now confronted with the issue of vehicle fires in underground car parks. However, the size of the building is not the decisive factor. Even in small garages, for example, under a residential complex, vehicle fires can be a major challenge.
New ideas and suggestions to take home
Thirteen firefighters from Germany completed the first «mixed» one-and-a-half-day intensive underground car park course at the International Fire Academy in early November 2023. The new offer seems to have been well received. The participants greatly appreciated the exchange of different tactics and techniques. The fact that «other fire services tick differently» was not seen as a hindrance but as an enrichment.
In a telephone survey, participants reported that many new ideas and suggestions could be taken home with them. Only in radio communication did the wide variety of dialects initially cause some communication difficulties, and the Swiss instructors were amazed at how many different versions of the language are spoken in Germany.
Dates of the intensive underground car park courses for 2024
Two dates for the intensive underground car park course have been announced for 2024, to which fire services can send individual participants:
- Fri/Sat 9-10 August 2024
- Mon/Thu 18-19 Nov 2024
A maximum of 16 participants per course can be accepted. The course language is German. The course fee is CHF 1680. The detailed conditions of participation can be found on the registration page.
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