Fire Safety - Articles and news items

The Burning Issue

Transport Extra  •  3 October 2016  •  Clark Wright

Clark Right discusses fires on public service vehicles and suggests ways in which they can be contained safely.

Investigation begins after London double-decker hybrid bus bursts into flames

Industry news  •  3 October 2016  •  Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, Eurotransport

On Sunday 02 October a double-decker hybrid bus burst into flames outside Liverpool Street Station in London.

New UNECE regulation for fire suppression systems in bus & coach engine compartments issued

Industry news  •  26 September 2016  •  Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, Eurotransport

In July this year, a new amendment of UNECE Regulation 107 was published in relation to fire suppression systems in engine compartments of buses and coaches.

Bus Fire Safety: Safer battery systems in electric buses

Issue 3 2016  •  20 June 2016  •  Fredrik Larsson, Johan Anderson, Petra Andersson and Bengt-Erik Mellander

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries offer great energy and power densities accompanied with long battery life time. However, if a mechanical fault occurs or the batteries over-heat, the flammable electrolyte of the Li-ion battery may pose a risk. For Eurotransport, colleagues from the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden (SP) and Chalmers University of Technology explore further, identifying the risks involved with electric buses…

Post-collision fires in road vehicles, a pre-study

Industry news  •  3 June 2016  •  SP Fire Research

The loss of human lives and body injuries as a consequence of post-crash fires either by smoke inhalation or due to burn injuries are unfortunately not uncommon. In a report released by SP Fire Research, information indicates that fire events related to crashes are still a significant problem.

The 4th FIVE – Fires in Vehicles conference that will take place October 5 – 6, 2016 in Baltimore, USA

Industry news  •  9 March 2016  •  SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden

FIVE will bring together scientists, regulators, test engineers, industry, suppliers, insurance companies and other organizations from the diverse field of transportation to discuss important fire issues….

Bus Fire Safety: Biogas-powered buses and decision-making during incidents

Issue 5 2015  •  2 November 2015  •  Anders Lönnermark from SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden / Johan Lindström, Peder Lindström and Petter Backlund from Fire and Rescue Greater Gothenburg

All over the world new alternative fuels are emerging to replace fossil fuels, such as gasoline and diesel. The overall benefits are great but with new fuels and technical solutions, new risks emerge. For Eurotransport, colleagues Anders Lönnermark from SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, plus Johan Lindström, Peder Lindström and Petter Backlund from Fire and Rescue Greater Gothenburg, explain that first responders to incidents can often face new situations that they are not familiar with and have to make decisions that they are not trained for. Does the lack of education and experience have consequences on society, which can all come down to what kind of decision at incidents is taken?

Tunnel Fire Safety: Feeling the heat

Issue 1 2015  •  12 March 2015  •  Dr Fathi Tarada, Managing Director Mosen Ltd

For the past few decades, the risk of fire within underground metro systems has meant the need for tunnel ventilation to control the spread of smoke. However, significant improvements in fire resistance and running capability for rolling stock have reduced the risk of fire within metro tunnels. Instead, the need to evacuate passengers from stranded trains without the risk of heat exhaustion has become the key criterion for tunnel ventilation in a number of international metro tunnels. Dr Fathi Tarada, Managing Director of Mosen Ltd and Eurotransport Editorial Board Members, describes here the emergence of a new paradigm in metro tunnel ventilation, which has significant consequences for metro system owners, operators, contractors, designers and the general public…

Bus fire: Best-practices to reduce risk

Issue 5 2014  •  24 October 2014  •  Fredrik Rosén and Joey Peoples from the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden

Bus transportation is regarded as one of the safest modes of public transportation. Millions of passengers ride safely every day to and from work, school and for pleasure. The manufacturers and operators of buses have gone to great lengths to establish and maintain this safety record. However, a bus fire resulting from a collision or failure of a component puts lives at risk and can have an enormous impact on operational costs as well as customer confidence. Fredrik Rosén and Joey Peoples from the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden explore this area further with details of fire testing methods, increasing the awareness of fire safety, and how the Research Institute will continue to expand the envelope of knowledge in support of us and coach fire safety through research, testing and certification…

Safety & Security supplement 2014

Issue 2 2014, Supplements  •  30 April 2014  •  Jonas Brandt, Maria Hjohlman, David Roney, Geoff Dunmore

In our latest free-to-view Safety & Security supplement, fire researchers from the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden assess the dangers of fires breaking-out on-board buses; James Kelly from the BSIA takes a look at the importance of CCTV in the industry; David Roney from the British Transport Police tells how the force keep the UK’s railways safe; and Independent Transport Consultant Geoff Dunmore looks at how transport organisations should prepare for and manage networks during major events…

The importance of automatic fire suppression systems

Issue 6 2012  •  22 January 2013  •  Jonas Brandt, Project Manager, SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden

This is the second and final part of an article to provide a background look at bus fires and to underline the importance of automatic fire suppression systems for buses and coaches. Bus and coach1 fires are a common issue in society. Given the fact that most fires start in the engine compartment, adequate active fire protection systems for engine compartments are advantageous both in terms of passenger safety, carrier and insurance company economy, and general public resource management. However, there is still no legislative demand for this course of action, nor an international standard for testing bus engine compartment fire suppression systems. For this reason, SP has recently developed a new standard named SP Method 4912.

SP Method 4912 describes a new method to test and validate the fire suppression performance of different suppression systems in a repeatable and reproducible way. A broad reference group including more than 80 companies such as bus manufacturers and operators, transport auth – orities, insurance companies, fire investigators and suppression system manufacturers have given valuable feedback to the development of the method. More than 450 pre-tests have been performed involving 10 fire suppression system manufacturers and with several different types of suppression agents, such as ABC- and BC-dry chemical, water mist, water spray and foam systems, aerosol and clean agent.

The importance of automatic fire suppression systems

Issue 5 2012  •  31 October 2012  •  Jonas Brandt, Project Manager, SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden

This is the first of two articles to provide a background look at bus fires and to underline the importance of automatic fire suppression systems for buses and coaches. About 1% of all buses suffer some form of fire incident each year. Most of these fires occur in the vehicle’s engine compartment located at the rear of the bus or coach, making it difficult for the driver to discover the fire. Experience from Sweden – where the installation of detection and fire suppression systems is actively encouraged by the insurance industry – shows that the installation of an automatic fire suppression system is an important fire safety measure. The second part of this article will be published in Eurotransport Issue 6 2012.

High number of bus fires: Bus fires are an increasing worldwide problem. Even though accidents that cause injuries are fortunately quite uncommon, the potential risk of a disastrous event is still high, with several examples in recent years highlighting this. In the evening of 8 September 2009, the Atac bus depot in Rome, Italy, was enveloped in flames with 24 gas-fuelled buses destroyed. Only five months earlier, another Atac depot had burnt down, destroying 30 mini-buses. On 4 November 2008, on the motorway near Garbsen in Germany, a coach carrying a group of pensioners and children caught fire.

Improving disabled access in transport infrastructure

Issue 4 2012  •  31 August 2012  •  Fathi Tarada, Tunnel Safety Expert, Managing Director of Mosen Ltd and Eurotransport Editorial Board Member

Major infrastructure projects in Europe are increasingly integrating the requirements of persons with reduced mobility into the early stages of their design. For example, significant investment is earmarked for step-free access for a number of major surface stations within the Crossrail West scheme on the outskirts of London. New lifts and overbridges are being planned by Network Rail, in order to facilitate access to all platforms in stations such as West Drayton and Maidenhead. Such infrastructure works will benefit a wide range of people including mothers with prams as well as a wide range of people with disabilities.

The definition of disability is wide and encomp – asses persons of limited mobility, hearing and vision. It includes the elderly, infirm and wheelchair users. The infrastructure and facilities provided by transport networks should therefore go further than just providing wheelchair access, and should include aural and visual information systems, including induction loops; appropriate warning surfaces at the top and bottom of stairs and at platform edges; and alternative access arrangements where physical barriers make it impossible or difficult to use the service.

Considering the aging nature of European societies, the proportion of people with disabilities is significant and rising. For example, it is currently estimated that 4,600,000 people have walking difficulties in the UK, and 800,000 of these people use a wheelchair.

Fire safety in subway stations with Platform Screen Doors

Issue 4 2012  •  31 August 2012  •  W.K. Chow, Chair Professor of Architectural Science and Fire Engineering and Head of the Building Services Engineering Department, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Platform Screen Doors (PSDs) can be found in many modern subway stations. However, 32 separate PSD incidents have been reported in Hong Kong since 2000, affecting approximately 3,000 passengers. Some of the incidents that occurred during this period included the glass panes of the PSDs suddenly breaking, and some trains not stopping in the right position at a station, causing the train doors to be out of line with the PSDs, resulting in passengers not being able to get off the train which meant it had to move onto the next station. If these incidents were to occur during a station fire, evacuation would be extremely difficult, especially on crowded stations, and the consequences could be very serious. How PSDs operate in a station evacuation scenario must be better understood to determine an appropriate fire safety management plan.

Very high passenger loading is seen every day during rush hours on the Hong Kong local subway system (see Figure 1 on page 92) and many incidents connected to fire and poor ventilation provision due to train suspension have been reported1, with over 70,000 passengers being affected since 1979. Some incidents were recorded in crowded train cars due to service suspension resulting from electrical signal faults and other unknown reasons. Ventilation provision in crowded train compartments was observed to be inadequate when the train stopped, leading to serious consequences1. No data on in-train air quality and subway stations under crowded conditions was released to the public2. The ventilation rate required should be adequate, as was stated years ago3.

The large scale test programme in the METRO project

Issue 6 2011  •  3 January 2012  •  Haukur Ingason, Professor of Fire Protection Engineering at the Department of Fire Technology at SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden and Anders Lönnermark, Senior Research Scientist at the Department of Fire Technology at SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden

In September 2011, the Swedish METRO project finalised a large scale test programme in an abandoned railway tunnel. The objective of the METRO project is to improve safety in underground metro systems and to explore differences in the fire behaviour of the carriage using different types of interior materials. Further, the role of passenger luggage in the fire development was investigated. The test programme included both fire and explosion tests. The results are still undergoing analysis, but the test programme has already generated lots of new interesting information to report on. One thing that has become clear is the importance of the choice of lining material and the effects of passenger luggage on the fire spread.
About the large scale tests

A total of four tests were carried out in the 276m-long Brunsberg tunnel outside Arvika, Sweden. The abandoned tunnel was taken out of service when a new tunnel was constructed to reduce the sharpness of a bend in the route. Three fire tests using liquefied fuel as the ignition source were carried out first. The first test was a small pan with diesel oil mounted under the carriage while tests two and three were simulated arson attacks inside the carriage using petrol poured on a seat. A total of two carriages were used for the three fire tests.

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