Structural Fire Protection in Tunnelling

Structural Fire Protection in Tunnelling

Transportation facilities such as tunnels are subject to strict requirements and extensive quality inspections. On average, the frequency of accidents in tunnels is lower than outside of tunnels because of defensive measures for the prevention of accidents such as speed limits or restriction on overtaking. Tunnel roads are also not exposed to weather conditions such as snow, ice etc. However, this is contrasted by the fact that the extent of a fire in a tunnel is usually considerably more severe than on the open road.

Baulicher Brandschutz im Tunnelbau (© shutterstock)
Structural Fire Protection in Tunnelling (© shutterstock)

Electrical function maintenance

Electrical security systems in tunnelling

The fast and safe evacuation of people in the event of fire requires that all relevant safety equipment is not impaired in its function. For the most part, road tunnels are therefore equipped with electrical wiring systems (cables + distribution boards) that are used, in addition to the general supply of power, for the power supply of safety-related systems inside the tunnel that must maintain its function for a certain period of time (maintenance of performance 90 min) in the event of a fire (e.g. night-time illumination / emergency lighting / fire emergency lighting, smoke extraction, extinguishing devices, etc.).

Separation of fire zones

and smoke sections in tunnelling

Rescue routes must be kept smoke-free. This can be achieved with locks or positive pressure ventilation. Escape and rescue routes must be separated in terms of fire protection so that each tube, each rescue tunnel and every rescue shaft can be classified as an individual fire zone.

tunnel boring machine (Picture: Kerem Kurluva - istockphoto)

Rescue zones in tunnel driving

In tunnelling, a distinction is generally made between open construction, in which the tunnel is built from above, and closed construction, in which the tunnel is driven from one or both end points. In closed construction, tunnelling is carried out with tunnel boring machines (shield tunnelling).
The tunnelling is divided into three hazard classes in accordance with existing technical regulations (RABT, BOStrab and EBA-Ril). As part of the safety concept for the construction period, detailed fire protection, escape and rescue concepts including an alarm and emergency plan must be drawn up. This concept shall specify whether protective containers or rescue containers are to be used for the planned tunnelling operation.

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Fire protection according to RABT

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