For a long time, road and rail tunnels have been assessed for fire protection based on the materials which were likely to burn inside the tunnel. After investigations into several high-profile tunnel fires, it was determined that the heat energy involved far exceeded the level of fire protection in use. As a result, intumescent epoxy PFP has become a more popular solution for protecting tunnel structures, control systems and safety equipment in the tunnel.
Fires in tunnels have severe consequences resulting in loss of life, large property losses and long business interruption periods. History shows us that 177 tunnel events have been recorded in 29 countries worldwide since 1866 (the first being recorded in the UK) and were caused by electric fire, car crash, bomb attack, fire, derailment, collision, collapse during construction, arson, broken catenary leading to fire, engine fire, electrical train equipment on fire, etc. Of these 177 tunnel events, 28 major fire events were recorded between 1949 and 2008, resulting in more than 700 deaths, more than 1,000 people injured, the loss of more than 500 vehicles (including cars, trucks and trains) and loss of more than £1 billion.
Tunnels are basically long or very long structures (the longest tunnel in the world the Japan Seikan railway tunnel at 53.85 kilometer, with a 23.3 kilometer long portion under the seabed) with very few internal fire partitions other than fire shelters and heavy fire doors between the tunnel and the service tunnels (weighing up to 2 tons in the Channel Tunnel), and inside crossover tunnels (e.g. Channel Tunnel crossover tunnels are equipped with a 90-ton fire door). Therefore, a tunnel is an open plan area with a very limited level of feasible passive fire protection compared to other property risks. This allows a fire to spread in the tunnel using trapped fire load as fuel.
Generally, the fire protection in tunnels is dealt with by using spray applied cementitious materials or fireproofed panels, protecting the top of the tunnel’s inside structure. We can provide K-MASS LITE® enclosures and K-CABS enclosures to protect electrical equipment junction boxes or electrical control panels for the essential ventilation equipment for getting the smoke out in case of fire. Alternatively, we can design and manufacture any specialty product to fit your project needs.