Fire safety in tunnels is a key concern for specifiers, authorities, designers, operators and the general public who use them for their transport needs. The limited egress opportunities allied to the number of people who may need to evacuate, creates potentially dangerous conditions in case of a tunnel fire. These considerations apply to a wide range of tunnels – road, railway and metro. Tunnel ventilation combined with fire suppression and concrete protection are key tools to mitigate the risk of smoke and fire spread, as part of an holistic fire safety strategy for a tunnel.
Tunnel safety has become a key issue following a series of fires in European tunnels and indeed fires worldwide, regrettably some involving heavy losses of life. The European Directive on Road Tunnel Safety has now been implemented, and has influenced the safety standards for many tunnels, not just those on the Trans-European Road Network.
Providing passive fire protection to the critical structural elements of the tunnel, namely the ceiling and upper walls, prevents concrete spalling to allow sufficient time for a complete evacuation. The RWS time/temperature curve , developed by the Rijkswaterstaat, Ministry of Transport in the Netherlands is currently the highest available standard in tunnel fire testing today and is promulgated as such. Although RWS Testing can be carried out several independent laboratories throughout Europe Efectis BV in the Netherlands are recognised worldwide as the leading experts tunnel fire testing.
NOTE: PassiveTec® Tunnel Liner 30 is specialist tunnel board that is currently tested to 180 mins to both RWS and HCM curves and 240 minutes to ISO 834.