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Catastrofic Fire in Tunnels

Catastrofic Fire in Tunnels



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Published by Attilio Sacripanti
general description of SITI Project and advanced Tunnel Safety Approach
general description of SITI Project and advanced Tunnel Safety Approach

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Published by: Attilio Sacripanti on Nov 24, 2008
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Handling Exceptions in StructuralEngineering:
Robustezza Strutturale, Scenari Accidentali, Complessitàdi Progetto
Roma, 13-14 Novembre 2008 – www.francobontempi.org/handling.php 
Handling Exceptions in StructuralEngineering:
Robustezza Strutturale, Scenari Accidentali, Complessitàdi Progetto
Roma, 13-14 Novembre 2008 – www.francobontempi.org/handling.php 
INTRODUCTIONThe tunnels, normally used in transportation sys-tems, are engineering infrastructures utilized toovercome natural obstacles disconnecting territories,like rivers, mountains or little sea surface, to makeeasier or shorter the way of communication.The simpler way to classify the tunnel is foundedon the basis of the kind of transportation system towhich they are destined like: railway tunnel, road-way tunnel and underground tunnel.Connection was in all time an important function,also today in our globalized environment, the bestconnection makes easier the exchange of informa-tion, makes cheaper the consumer goods, makesmore wide-spread the welfare.Normally from the philosophical point of view,the tunnel safety can be or prescriptive or perform-ance based. The first is easier for national regulationadministrations, and for planning management, butobviously not corresponds to the real safety for alltunnel, the second is nearer to the local tunnel safetybut is more difficult to achieve.The safety in tunnels depends from the connectedapplication of many integrated safety systems.No taking into account the very important issue:safety against the accidents during construction,(more or less one death for each tunnel km).Different kind of accidents are possible duringtunnel exercise, but accidents involving fire are themost dangerous as it is shown by the last terrible in-cidents involving human deaths for remember inonly two years: Monte Bianco 24/3/1999 (Italy andFrance) 39 deaths, Tauern Tunnel 26/5/1999 (Aus-tria) 13 deaths, Gleinalm 6/8/2001 (Austria) 5deaths, Gottardo 24/10/2001 (Switzerland) 11deaths.Tunnels fires have been rare occurrences, how-ever the potential for entrapment and injury of largenumbers of people who routinely use highway tun-nels, or underground massive transport facilities, ormainline railroad tunnels, warrants special consid-eration.Normally safety systems into tunnels are, in func-tion of their operability, and usually can be definedactive or passive ones. Normally, tacking in accountthe specific differences, the safety strategy for majorfire accidents into conventional tunnels, highway,underground or railroad is basically the same.In term of flow of time the basic steps are:1. Detection. 2. Alarm. 3. Incident location. 4.Communications. 5. Planned responses. 6. Evacua-tion. 7. Smoke control. 8. Fire suppression.If we think to fire detection as wide application of thermal detectors or smoke detectors in the tunnels,also if there are thinking to the last generation of de-tectors, they are very limited in their capabilities.
Catastrophic fire in Tunnels
A. Sacripanti
 Dipartimento Tecnologie della Fisica e Nuovi Materiali (FIM), ENEA, Italy
ABSTRACT: To overcome the very difficult problems set by catastrophic fire in Tunnels in 2000 under theProf Rubbia Patronage the ENEA built up a strategic project called FIT (Fire In Tunnel) flowed in one biggermeta-project called SITI (Safety In Tunnel Intelligence), the author, builder and general project manager of both projects, starting by a deep revision of the risk analysis philosophy, obtained a very flexible “systemic”safety approach useful for highway, railway and underground tunnels. The meta-project starting by the newconcept of “comparative time dependent risk analysis”, on the basis of the experience gained in ITS and Nu-clear Power Safety fields, developed through the application of integrated and modified, innovative technolo-gies, the praxis of the “Effective Safety” new concept, useful for all kind of specific Tunnels. At the end, aconcise description of main results obtained by the SITI meta-project built up by 15 work packages represent-ing 35 interconnected sub-projects, and submitted for partial funds, to the Italian Research Ministry. Theoverall cost of research streams has been about 15 million Euros, assigned form the 2004 till to the end of 2007.
For example smoke detectors are unsuitable in tun-nel environment due to the products of combustionin the vehicles exhaust emissions. However the mainproblem even with the last detectors generation isthe substantial lag time from the starting of fire tothe detection (normally fire starts al floor level and itis detected at ceiling level), it would be reasonableto conclude that the fire has had time to increase atsignificant size (see in this article the fractal firemodels).The problem of knowledge of location of a fireaccident in a tunnel is critical to complete safety re-sponse. It is always possible to use loop detectors orthermal detectors or heat linear detectors to deter-mine the fire first location zone, but video monitorsand men could be the most accurate finder of the ac-cident zone, because they are free of mistakes orfalse alarm.In this paper we describe the overall safety ap-proach to catastrophic fires in tunnel used in FIT andSITI Projects, the improvement in risk analysis per-formed, and the main results obtained in prototypesand advanced studies, using an Intelligent ApproachSystem based on ITS technologies and Nuclearpraxis.2
THEORETICAL BACKROUND – STATICVERSUS DYNAMIC CONSIDERATIONIf we go, in a special kind of rarefied abstraction,looking at meaning of tunnel as link between twosocial and economic environments, in a more deepinsight at light of mathematical topology, the landsurface could be assimilate to an abstract mathe-matical set of points, some connected and someother disconnected, in such view it can be possibleto see the tunnel like a relationship or a connectingfunction between two o more disconnected points.Continuing this mathematical similarity, it will bepossible to describe a generic tunnel as the mathe-matical multi-parameters function, that links twodisconnected points or two disconnected areas in theland-space under consideration.But as many parameters we use, each couple of points or areas will be obviously different.It means, that all tunnel could be described by thesame general function, but every specific tunnel, inthis space, will differ in each connection, for hisnumerical value.In this very abstract approach, built on discon-nected points or areas into the Environment (the sys-tem), and a special connecting function describingthe “Generic Tunnel”, it easy to understand that,however the general function is similar, his specificnumerical value will be different for each two con-necting points.The previous clear understandable rule could beapplied, in the same way for the safety systems intothe tunnels: a general view common to all tunnels,but for each tunnel the specific configuration of theapplication of safety systems will again be different.Even more, if in the general function describing the“Generic Tunnel” are considered not only static orgeometric parameters, but also the dynamical ones,then it will be possible to introduce, in very naturalway, the concept of “Dynamic Tunnel” as the timedependent form of function describing the GenericTunnel.The conclusion of this speech is that: from a morephilosophical, than operative point of view, it is pos-sible to tell that a specific tunnel is never equal to it-self.If we remember the variational operator used todenote a change in a given quantity then let
 be the configuration of a given tunnel system at time
, an admissible safety configuration of the system isof the form:(1)with
small. Therefore, for any fixed
can beviewed as a change or variation in the actual evolu-tion
, this variation is often denoted by
  
 next consider a tunnel function of t, of the dependentvariable u and its derivate u’.
its variation for fixed t will be:(2)From the previous reasoning, it accrues that every“Dynamic Tunnel” changes his numerical value dur-ing the time and then, for this reason, the safety sys-tem must be changeable in time for a correct appli-cation of the previous “abstract” safety concept.In general terms, the safety in this abstract ap-proach could be see as an operator minimizing somevalues of the generic tunnel function, however interm of real applicable safety to a specific dynamictunnel, the safety will minimize some variable val-ues of a time series decomposition of the specificdynamics tunnel function.The first meaningful extension of this analysiswas that it allows the complete parallel approachamong highway, railroad and underground tunnels.This comparative view showed clearly that theclassical safety vision utilized so far must be im-proved, in the light of new knowledge obtained bythis comparative analysis.A more deep study enables us to understand notonly the well known differences regarding highway,roadway and underground tunnel safety, but alsounknown similarities and helpful methodological in-terconnections.In many countries, until now, safety against catas-trophic accident, as fire in tunnel, is: a matter of “passive” approach to the problem; a collection of separate view of problems among road, rail and un-derground tunnels; a problem very far from the ap-
plication of more integrate and innovative technolo-gies, normally applied in the advanced transportationfields like ITS or in other structures, safety ad-vanced, like Nuclear Power Plant; as far as weknow, a vision restricted to the Tunnel structureboundaries only.3
HIGHWAYFor long-one tube tunnel, the last word on safetyis certainly the Monte Bianco equipment structuredsystem. The technological apparatus of the tunnelincreased until the actual 41 video cameras for traf-fic control, 116 safety boxes (with visual variablemessages), 72 emergency places (every 300 m withphone and extinguisher ), 15 turning-bays (every600 m allows rescue vehicles to operate in the tun-nel), 116 new aspiration ores, and fresh air ventila-tion on one new underway emergency exit, two con-trol room a computerized help for emergency, threespecial "Giano" fire brigade trunk, posted 24 h aday, (one in the middle of tunnel the other two at theopposite extremities) (Alamberti 2001).In Japan, some time ago, tunnels were catego-rized in five levels, in term of dangerous structuresand decreasing severity class:AA, A, B, C, D, and “….the categorization is de-termined in such way, that a probability of one acci-dent every 22 million which is ensured, regardless of tunnel length and traffic volume…".As matter of fact, it means to consider one unifiedsafety approach providing a nearly equal safetylevel, for all tunnels!In Japan many further studies have been per-formed also about evacuation systems. From the ex-perience of earthquake, vantages and drawback of principles, utilized in the system for people evacua-tion, are analyzed in order to find the best way to ob-tain easier exit, and to lower time-queues, very dan-gerous during fire accidents.b.
RAILWAYThe most advanced safety organization for rail-way tunnel is, up to now, in the opinion of the au-thor, the systems utilized in the undersea Euro Tun-nel. As it is well known, this tunnel was designedwith a service tunnel between the north and thesouth running tunnels. After the 1996 fire accident,inside safety systems have been improved muchmore. Fortunately, this accident occurred with nodeaths or seriously injured, but the damages werevery high, nevertheless the very big emergency or-ganization involved: about 450 firemen, from Franceand England, who exhausted at least 250 oxygenportable reservoirs (Brouke 1996).In spite of this very effective and rapid safety re-sponse the Channel Tunnel was closed no less than15 days for restoration. No deaths also in the last fireaccident (lorry on freight shuttles) September 2008the tunnel was closed for few days.Except for one fire (Hokuriku 1972) all the fireswith multiple fatalities occurred when a train wasforced to stop in a tunnel.c.
UNDERGROUNDThe underground safety system could representthe most serious and complex situation, especiallyfor the evacuation problems from the tunnels or thestations remembering the 1100 people in Philadel-phia in Sept.6 1979.Among other serious accidents, it is worth tomention the fire in the Metro of Baku in 1995 (289people killed) and the fire on the cableway toKitzsteinhorn, Austria, in 2000 (155 people killed).Both tunnels had relatively small cross sectionalarea (Kitzsteinhorn 10 m
and Baku Metro 28 m
).In the annual of statistics it is possible to find thatbetween the years 71 -87 it was possible to countaround the world about 30 significant metro fires,including also the tragedy example of the King'sCross Underground Station fire (1987), with 31 pas-sengers killed in the hall of the station.4
RISK EVALUATIONQuantification of risk is the main way to perform agood safety approach. Risk analysis started in theUS for the nuclear power plants. This methodologywas also applied to road and rail, in E.U. especiallyin the northern countries. In Denmark, it was appliedto both road and railway about in 1970. In Germanyin 1983 was edited the Safety Concept for Tunnelsin New Railway, applied to the new high-speed rail.One study on the risk (H
 j 2002) concerning thedangerous goods through the tunnel was prepared by(OECD-PIARC-E.U.) in 1999, the total risk of openroute versus tunnel route was evaluated as usual(frequency /yr - fatalities).In Italy, until now, PRA is very far from tunnels,roads or, other transport systems, but an E.U. Direc-tive 2004/54/EC, on minimum safety requirementsfor tunnels in the trans-European road network, waspublished in 2004.The comparative analysis and the study of thestate of the art of tunnel safety allowed us to intro-duce and define the concept of “Dynamic Tunnel”, apoint of view very different from the generic unifiedsafety vision, normally utilized by engineeringgroups or corporation.Starting from the obvious consideration that: eachtunnel is different from the other ones’.This underlines the incorrect vision, previous in-troduced, of the “Tunnels Unified Safety Criteria”based on the concept that we called “Static Tunnel”.In general we may argue that for some parametersone tunnel is never equal to itself, in other words,each tunnel has its own degree of risk, not constant

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