Posted: 29 augusti, 2013 By: Comments: 0

Development of a decision support tool for rescue services

A number of underground fires have occurred in the Nordic countries during the last couple of months, with the most serious being the fire in the Norwegian Gudvanga tunnel that occurred on 5th August. Thus, although rare, fires in these types of facilities do occur, and we can be quite sure that they will continue to occur also in the future. Therefore, the work that I am doing together with others within the Swedish research project Tactics and methodology to facilitate rescue operations during underground fires (abbreviated TMU) feels highly important. The overall aim of the project is to develop rescue tactics and methods, which can be used to facilitate rescue operations during fires in underground structures. The objective is partially fulfilled by the execution of a number of full scale fire experiments at a mining facility in Sala, Sweden. This autumn, experiments will be conducted at two different occasions, and the project’s reference group will be invited to take part on the 25th October. If you want to know more, or want to take part in the reference group, contact Maria Kumm at Mälardalen University.


The ”train” that is used to represent the fire in the TMU project, burning outside during a test run. Max HRR in the tunnel will correspond to approximately 18 MW.

As a part of the Department of Fire Safety Engineering and Systems Safety, my main contribution to the project is the development of a decision support tool for rescue services. The goal of the model is to provide rescue services with a tool that can be used to plan rescue operations in different underground structures. My supervisor, Håkan Frantzich, who is also taking part in the development of this tool, did similar work a couple of years ago, which has been presented in a publication termed Räddningsinsatser i vägtunnlar (in Swedish). We now strive to expand this model, and to increase both it’s reliability and validity by including the data generated from the project’s experiment.

The intention is that the tool shall include a fire model, a rescue operations model, and an evacuation model. The fire model will in essence be based on fairly straight forward and simple correlations derived by Haukur Ingason at SP, which has been presented in the The Handbook of Tunnel Fire Safety. The rescue operations model will largely be based on the results derived from the experiments in the project, and the evacuation model will to some degree build on what I have previously done in other projects, e.g., the METRO project. When completed, the tool shall be able to give rescue services a rough feeling of their possibilities to perform an operation under various fire conditions, based on the selected rescue tactics, but also the expected of consequences in terms of number of people that may be left inside the tunnel as they arrive. The tool can be expected to be used to reduce uncertainties during planning of rescue operations, and as a part of education for rescue personnel. Due to the including of an evacuation model, I hope that the tool also can be used during the fire safety design of underground structures.

The work that I am doing in the TMU-project is really the definition of applied research, i.e., it is characterized by interpreting previous research results and putting it into a greater context, and I really like what I am doing. The project ends in December 2014, and if not before, this is also when the tool will be released to the public.


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