Serra Grossa rail tunnel in Alicante

A major fire was set to sweep through the Serra Grossa rail tunnel in Alicante this weekend, but fortunately it was intentional and part of a test of a new emergency management system, and was closely monitored by fire fighters and the city’s Department of Safety.

The new system has been developed as part of a project named “Firetunnel”, and has already undergone rigorous testing in controlled conditions in the manufacturer´s facilities, but the real test comes when putting the system to work in a real life situation.

According to Teresa Real, researcher at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, “Our project will improve the efficiency of emergency plans making staff’s work easier and helping to reduce the number of victims as evacuations will be more effective”.

The system is designed to facilitate evacuation of passengers and staff in case of a railway fire. Consisting of four closely interconnected subsystems, including detection, anti-propagation, ventilation and information, the system monitors the entire tunnel and can plot the likely spread of fire and smoke, taking appropriate action such as unfolding flameproof fabric on either side of the fire to prevent it from spreading, and creating controlled ventilation routes at the same time.

Then, once the control system is established, the safest exit routes are indicated through a series of flashing lights, indicating the fastest and safest exit from the tunnel on foot.

The tunnel in which the system was tested is not operational at the moment, forming part of the Tram extension to cover Benidorm, now not expected to be opened until 2016, due to budget constraints.

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