During February and March 2018, forty members of the Bolzano (Italy) fire service carried out training exercises to test their emergency management skills in the event of fires in tunnels. The exercises were carried out at the Applus+ TST facilities in San Pedro de Anes, Asturias (Spain), which include a large testing tunnel equipped for simulating full-scale fires. These training sessions were the first phase of a programme which will train 140 Bolzano firefighters over the next few years at Applus+ TST.
The Bolzano fire brigade, in charge of the second biggest rail tunnel in the world
The Bolzano fire service operates in the Alps and has responsibility for numerous tunnels, among them the forthcoming Brenner Base tunnel. This rail tunnel, which is currently under construction, is 55 km long and has three independent tubes: two rail traffic tunnels and an exploratory tunnel. The Brenner Base tunnel will join Italy and Austria, connecting with the Innsbruck bypass tunnel (14 km), making it the longest underground rail link in the world.
Tailor-made training for handling fires in tunnels
The Bolzano fire brigade chose Applus+ TST to carry out this training because of its capabilities, unique in Europe, which combine full-scale fire tests of up to 20 MW of Heat Release Rate (HRR) in a 600-metre tunnel.
Applus+ TST’s fire safety experts developed a tailor-made training solution, with different exercises and manoeuvres, based in the fire brigade’s requirements. Applus+ TST took responsibility for both the preparation and ignition of the different fires, together with safety controls and prevention measures during the training sessions.
Over the course of the training days, the firefighters faced real fire situations in confined environments with extremely fierce fires which reached strengths of up to 30 MW of HRR, the equivalent of 7 cars burning in a tunnel.
The training exercises allowed firefighters to practice using their own equipment in real fire conditions. Specialist equipment was brought from Italy for the training days, including water mist pump systems and a truck equipped with a high-flow fan which succeeded in overcoming a counter air current speed of 2 m/s.
Unique facilities for simulating high-power fires in tunnels
Applus+ TST, recently acquired by Applus+ Laboratories, boasts unique facilities for fire testing and fire simulations in tunnels. Fire and emergency service teams from around the world visit these facilities to carry out practical exercises and training in a one-of-a-kind testing area which allows for situations involving full-scale, real fires. Applus+ has a team of experts in fires and ventilation, which organises and provides tailor-made theory and practice training sessions, including exercises in full-scale fire situations.