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Tunnel fire fighting

Posted by Shan Raffel
Shan Raffel
“Shan has pioneered and championed a global paradigm shift in fire fighting tech
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 21 April 2013
in Industry Insights · 0 Comments

During many firefighting operations there is sufficient space to bowl out coiled hose or to flake out hose from the pumper.

While many tunnels will have hose reels these are extremely limited and will not provide sufficient flow to attack a developed vehicle fire. Initial fire attack in tunnels will most likely be conducted by connecting a hose line to an outlet located somewhere in the tunnel complex.

It is therefore essential for firefighters to be able to carry lay flat hose to the scene. This may be very challenging in the confines of a tunnel for a number of reasons. It is likely that vehicles behind the incident will have to be abandoned.

This chaotic environment could make the task of stretching a line extremely difficult. If visibility is hindered due to smoke or the failure of emergency lighting the situation become even more difficult and dangerous.

Probably the most limiting environment for hose line deployment is in a rail tunnel. In many cases the distance between the carriage and the walls of the tunnel is extremely narrow. Footing is difficult due to the ballast and few rail tunnels are fitted with emergency lighting so visibility could be very limited.

The Attack Pack provides the possibility to easily carry the hose to the scene and allow for hose to be charged in a very narrow or congested space. The fact that the hose line does not need to be stretched out to be charged allows fire attack to commence earlier and connection to the hydrant provides a tenable anchor point.

As conditions improve, the coiled hose line allows for easy and reliable advancement of the line.

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Posted by Shan Raffel
Shan Raffel
“Shan has pioneered and championed a global paradigm shift in fire fighting tech
User is currently offline
on Friday, 09 March 2012
in Industry Insights · 5 Comments
I am often asked to explain the difference between flashover and backdraft, both of which I will define using the International Standards Organisation (ISO) 

The key elements in all definitions are:

  1. Rapid transition
  2. Leads to a fully developed compartment fire

Flashover is defined as: "The rapid transition to a state of total surface involvement in a fire of combustible materials within an enclosure."

Most fires start relatively small as some form of heat energy is applied to the object which leads to the ignition temperature being reached. The flame radiates back onto the object and this increases the rate of combustion. The radiation also heats up neighbouring items and they will begin to pyrolyse (break down into fuel and passive agents). The heated fire gases accumulate in the ceiling area forming an over pressure area. As the temperature increases the unburnt fuel in the smoke layer approaches its’ Auto Ignition Temperature (AIT) . When this fuel ignites the fire gas combustion rolls across the ceiling releasing an enormous amount of radiant energy which rapidly ignites the remaining combustibles in the room.

In a nutshell, flashover occurs when there is a good supply of air that allows the accumulated unburnt fuel to heat up to its’ Auto Ignition Temperature (AIT).

Fuel & Air + AIT = Flashover

Backdraught is defined as: "An explosion, of greater or lesser degree, caused by the inrush of fresh air from any source or cause, into a burning building, where combustion has been taking place in a shortage of air."

Well insulated rooms with limited air supply can limit the development of a fire. The fire will grow until the air is consumed and smouldering may continue for some time. The room may stay quite hot and the combustible contents will continue to pyrolyse (or breakdown) allowing the accumulation of large quantities of unburnt fuel.

If an opening is created air will flow into the compartment and add the missing ingrediant. It is possible for a sudden and explosive propagation of flame through the compartment and out through the openings. There will be pockets of gas remaining that are too rich to ignite immediately these will burn progressively as air is drawn into the compartment. The combustion process could continue for some time after the initial explosion and the heat generated could lead to a fully involved fire.

In a nutshell, backdraft occurs when air is added to a room with high temperatures and large quantities of unburnt fuel.

Fuel and Heat + Air = Backdraft

So how does this knowledge affect our fire attack strategy and hose lay tactics? Before we talk about that we must understand the 3rd critical fire development event, fire gas ignition.

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Posted by Shan Raffel
Shan Raffel
“Shan has pioneered and championed a global paradigm shift in fire fighting tech
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 26 February 2012
in blogs · 0 Comments

The 3D approach to compartment fire fighting has reached the stage where most of the fire services in the world have adopted at least some of the training principles, tactics and techniques.

As an obvious believer and regular practitioner I can tell you from experience when executed efficiently the effect of the most appropriate nozzle technique is powerful, instant and life saving.


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