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Planning and Design for Fire and Smoke Incidents in Underground Passenger Rail Systems (2017)

Chapter: Chapter Three - Survey Results Part One: Information from Agencies

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter Three - Survey Results Part One: Information from Agencies ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Planning and Design for Fire and Smoke Incidents in Underground Passenger Rail Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24691.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter Three - Survey Results Part One: Information from Agencies ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Planning and Design for Fire and Smoke Incidents in Underground Passenger Rail Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24691.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter Three - Survey Results Part One: Information from Agencies ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Planning and Design for Fire and Smoke Incidents in Underground Passenger Rail Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24691.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter Three - Survey Results Part One: Information from Agencies ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Planning and Design for Fire and Smoke Incidents in Underground Passenger Rail Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24691.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter Three - Survey Results Part One: Information from Agencies ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Planning and Design for Fire and Smoke Incidents in Underground Passenger Rail Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24691.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter Three - Survey Results Part One: Information from Agencies ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Planning and Design for Fire and Smoke Incidents in Underground Passenger Rail Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24691.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter Three - Survey Results Part One: Information from Agencies ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Planning and Design for Fire and Smoke Incidents in Underground Passenger Rail Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24691.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter Three - Survey Results Part One: Information from Agencies ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Planning and Design for Fire and Smoke Incidents in Underground Passenger Rail Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24691.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter Three - Survey Results Part One: Information from Agencies ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Planning and Design for Fire and Smoke Incidents in Underground Passenger Rail Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24691.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter Three - Survey Results Part One: Information from Agencies ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Planning and Design for Fire and Smoke Incidents in Underground Passenger Rail Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24691.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter Three - Survey Results Part One: Information from Agencies ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Planning and Design for Fire and Smoke Incidents in Underground Passenger Rail Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24691.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter Three - Survey Results Part One: Information from Agencies ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Planning and Design for Fire and Smoke Incidents in Underground Passenger Rail Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24691.
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19 IntroductIon This is the first of two chapters presenting the results of a survey of transit agencies regarding planning and design for fire and smoke incidents in underground passenger rail systems. The survey was designed to elicit information on: 1. Sources of information; 2. Definitions; 3. Incidents and causes; 4. Fire and smoke detection, prevention, protection, and ventilation systems; 5. Protocol, procedures, and systems for fire and smoke incident management; 6. Training and familiarization for employees and first responders; 7. Challenges; 8. Next generation; and 9. Lessons learned. This chapter presents responses by category for the first six categories listed. The remaining categories are addressed in chapter four. Twenty-five completed surveys were received from the 30 rail transit agencies in the sample, a response rate of 83%. All agencies did not answer all questions. Three partially completed surveys were also received, and responses from the partially completed surveys are included in this analysis. Chapter four discusses survey results related to the responding agencies’ assessment of challenges, lessons learned, and elements of the “ideal” fire prevention and response system. SourceS of InformatIon Table 4 shows sources used by transit agencies in planning and designing for response to incidents of fire and smoke in underground portions of the rail system. All respondents use NFPA 130. Slightly more than half of the respondents use the National Incident Management System (NIMS), locally developed standards and guidelines, or both, and just less than half use the APTA Recommended Practice Report. Other responses include best practices culled from a variety of sources, agency- developed specifications and practices, FRA regulations, host railroad design standards, and other documents, including: • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Requirements; • Uniform Building Code; • APTA RT-S-VIM-020-10, Emergency Lighting System Design for Rail Transit Vehicles; • FRA 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 238.103 (Appendix B: Test Methods and Perfor- mance Criteria for the Flammability and Smoke Emission Characteristics of Materials Used in Passenger Cars and Locomotive Cabs); • FRA 49 CFR 238 (Passenger Equipment Safety Standards); • FRA 49 CFR Subpart D [includes 38.71–38.97 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)]; and • Major test standards, including American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) E-119 (Floor Fire Test), ASTM E-648 (Critical Radiant Flux), ASTM E-162 (Flame Spread), ASTM E-662 (Smoke Density), Boeing Specification Support Standard BSS 7239 (Toxic Gas Generation), and Fire and Life Safety Analysis (Contract Data Requirements List 48). chapter three Survey reSultS Part one: InformatIon from agencIeS

20 One agency noted that it uses NFPA 130 on all new projects but some parts of its system predate the standard. Table 5 shows how agencies use NFPA 130. Most responding agencies use this standard in the design of transit facilities. Several agencies treat NFPA 130 as a best practices document and use it for guidance when practical or when it does not conflict with other code. Several agencies noted that they rely on it for specific purposes, including inspection and certification, emergency planning and response, ventilation, and new construction. defInItIonS Agencies define “underground” in different ways, as shown in Table 6. The most frequently mentioned definitions are “below grade” or “subterranean,” followed by “consistent with NFPA 130.” Several agencies use a minimum length of tunnel to define underground, with the minimum ranging from 150 to 1,000 ft. Respondents also reported how their agencies define a fire and smoke incident. This was a multiple- choice question with multiple responses allowed. Table 7 shows that obvious signs of fire and/or smoke most often define an incident. Other responses include: • Passengers or operators calling in to report fire or smoke (noted by two agencies); • Any of these signs triggering response procedures; • Not categorizing the incident as an emergency if the cause is immediately known; and • Categorizing the incident as reportable if an extinguishable flame is present and as recordable in the absence of an extinguishable flame. Source No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding NFPA 130, Standard for Fixed Guideway Transit and Passenger Rail Systems 28 100 National Incident Management System (NIMS) 15 54 Local standards and guidelines 14 50 APTA RP PS-005-01a, Recommended Practice for Fire Safety Analysis of Existing Passenger Rail Equipment 14 50 APTA SS-E-013-99, Rev 1, Standard for Emergency Lighting Design for Passenger Cars 11 39 Presidential Directive No. 5 7 25 Other 7 25 Total responses 28 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of multiple responses. TABLE 4 SOURCES OF INFORMATION Use No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding Design 10 53 Guidance 5 26 Inspection/certification 3 16 Emergency planning and response 3 16 Ventilation 2 11 New construction 1 5 Total responses 19 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of multiple responses. TABLE 5 AGENCy USE OF NFPA 130

21 IncIdentS and cauSeS Minor underground fire and smoke incidents are not uncommon, but major incidents occur less often. The survey defined a “major” incident as causing a service disruption of 2 h or more. Table 8 shows that only four agencies reported a major incident in the past 12 months. Sixteen agencies reported a minor incident. Definition No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding Below grade/subterranean 5 21 Consistent with NFPA 130 4 17 On the underground side of portal 3 13 No formal definition 3 13 Not elevated, embankment, surface, or cut 2 8 Enclosed or covered structure longer than 200 ft 2 8 Fully enclosed; more than 150 ft 1 4 At least 800 ft 1 4 At least 1,000 ft 1 4 Covered on all four sides 1 4 Where cannot freely vent to atmosphere 1 4 Floor level 30 ft or more below lowest exit discharge (city code) 1 4 Entire subway is underground 1 4 Total responses 24 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of multiple responses. TABLE 6 DEFINITION OF “UNDERGROUND” Definition No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding Visible flames 23 88 Sight or smell of smoke 21 81 Automatic alarm triggered 9 35 Manual alarm triggered by the operator 9 35 Other 5 19 Total responses 26 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of multiple responses. TABLE 7 DEFINITION OF “FIRE AND SMOkE INCIDENT” Type of Incident No. of Incidents No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding Major (causing a service disruption of more than 2 h) 0 19 83 1 2 9 2 2 9 Total responses—Major — 23 100 Minor (no service disruption or less than 2 h) 0 8 32 1-2 6 24 3-5 4 16 6-10 2 8 10+ 4 16 Unknown 1 4 Total responses—Minor — 25 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of rounding. TABLE 8 NUMBER OF UNDERGROUND FIRE AND SMOkE INCIDENTS wITHIN THE PAST 12 MONTHS

22 Table 9 shows the primary causes of underground fire and smoke incidents. This was a multiple choice question with multiple responses accepted. Arcing and trash fires in tunnels were noted by more than half of all respondents. Figure 6 shows the damage that electrical arcing can cause. Other causes included tie fires, a spark near the attendant’s booth, trash fire outside the tunnel portal with intrusion into the tunnel, miscellaneous equipment, overhead messenger wire snagged by light rail vehicle (LRV) pantograph after a tunnel ceiling mount casting failed on a hanger arm. fIre and Smoke detectIon, PreventIon, ProtectIon, and ventIlatIon SyStemS More than half of all respondents (15 of 27; 56%) reported that their agencies have an early under- ground fire detection system. Table 10 shows the responses to a multiple choice question regarding the elements included in the early detection system. Closed circuit television (CCTV), station smoke or heat detectors, and closed-head sprinklers (heat sensitive) in the station are the most common elements. Other responses include station heat detectors in nonpublic areas and ventilation shafts and observations of employees or passengers. More than two-thirds of respondents (18 of 26; 69%) report that their agency has adopted design standards or codes related to underground fire and smoke prevention and detection. As noted in Table 11, these standards or codes are used primarily in the design phase or in design review on new construction and rehabilitation projects. Several agencies have adopted NFPA standards as their own. Standards and codes are also incorporated into standard operating procedures (SOPs). Cause of Incident No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding Arcing—traction power 13 59 Trash fire in tunnel 12 55 Vehicle or vehicle equipment 8 36 Trash fire in underground station 7 32 Insulator 7 32 Electric cable feeder 6 27 Trash fire on vehicle 0 0 Other 8 36 Total responses 22 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of multiple responses. TABLE 9 PRIMARy CAUSES OF UNDERGROUND FIRE AND SMOkE INCIDENTS FIGURE 6 Damage from electrical arcing incident at WMATA (Source: NTSB).

23 Most respondents (24 of 26; 92%) report that their agency does not have a fire suppression system onboard transit vehicles that operate in tunnels. Sprinkler systems in tunnels are also relatively rare, with 19% of respondents (5 of 27) reporting sprinkler systems in some tunnels and only 4% reporting sprinkler systems in all tunnels. Sprinkler systems are more common in underground stations, as shown in Figure 7. Most respondents indicate that their agency’s ventilation control system is designed to remove smoke and provide fresh air and/or cooling, as shown in Table 12. Other responses include the use of Element No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding CCTV 13 93 Station smoke or heat detector 11 79 Closed head sprinkler in station (heat sensitive) 9 64 Tunnel smoke detector 6 43 Inside vehicle detection (smoke or heat) 3 21 Linear heat detector 2 14 Video analytics 0 0 Other 3 21 Total responses 14 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of multiple responses. TABLE 10 ELEMENTS OF EARLy DETECTION SySTEM How Applied No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding NFPA standards adopted 4 24 On new construction and rehabilitation projects 4 24 In the design phase of projects or in design review 4 24 Incorporated in SOPs 3 18 In CFD analyses leading to ventilation system designs 1 6 Minimum requirements 1 6 Total responses 17 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of rounding. TABLE 11 APPLICATION OF DESIGN STANDARDS OR CODES In all underground stations 41% In some but not all underground stations 26% In no underground stations 33% n = 27 FIGURE 7 Sprinkler systems in underground stations.

24 ventilation to produce an evacuation path free of smoke and a maintenance mode to remove by-products of combustion from maintenance vehicles during nonrevenue hours. Table 13 indicates that ventilation fans typically are controlled remotely. Other responses indicate an ability to control fans manually in an emergency, either by the fire department or from another location. Almost all respondents (23 of 25; 92%) report that their agency regularly tests fan operation. Table 14 shows how often fan operation is tested. More than half of respondents test fan operation weekly or monthly. Ventilation System No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding Remove smoke and provide fresh air and/or cooling 17 71 Used to remove smoke, although not designed for that purpose 3 13 Provide fresh air and/or cooling, not to remove smoke 2 8 Tunnels are naturally ventilated 2 8 Remove smoke only 1 4 Other 2 8 Total responses 24 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of multiple responses. TABLE 12 TyPES OF VENTILATION SySTEMS Means of Control No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding All are controlled remotely at the operations center or other centralized location 10 46 Some or all can be controlled either remotely or manually 9 41 All are controlled manually by on-site fan controls 0 0 Some are controlled remotely, others manually 0 0 Other 3 14 Total responses 22 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of rounding. TABLE 13 CONTROL OF VENTILATION FANS Frequency No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding Weekly 4 18 Monthly 8 36 Every 45 days 1 5 Quarterly 2 9 Semiannually 1 5 Annually 2 9 As needed because of maintenance issues 3 14 Unsure 1 5 Total responses 22 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of rounding. TABLE 14 FREqUENCy OF TESTING FAN OPERATION

25 A final set of questions in this section asked about if and how agencies change their protocols and procedures as new techniques and regulations emerge, if there are “triggers” to retrofit the system, and if there are work-arounds for legacy systems to meet new requirements. Table 15 indicates that agencies take several different approaches. Internal cross-departmental evaluations are common, and these include debriefings after an event. Respondents use formal quantitative techniques (risk, cost-benefit, and engineering analyses). Regulatory compliance is essential, although older systems may be “grandfathered.” Respondents also pay close attention to industry incidents and actions taken by other rail agencies. Capital improvements are a trigger for retrofitting the system; although each system was built to code at the time of construction, all elements may or may not meet current codes. The need to replace system components at the end of their useful life affects the need for capital improvements. Several agencies, including newer rail systems, report no specific triggers for retrofitting the system. Table 16 shows responses to the question regarding work-arounds for legacy systems to meet new requirements. The response provided most frequently was that needed changes were made during repairs. managIng IncIdentS Every agency has established procedures for responding to and managing underground fire and smoke incidents. Respondents went into varying levels of detail in describing these procedures. One of the more detailed responses is provided verbatim here, addressing internal and external notification, command structure, power shutoff, evacuation, and unified command structure at the scene. Upon initial notification to the Control Center, a call is made to the local fire department. Transit Police, Supervision and other agency personnel are dispatched. Power is removed. Train traffic will be prevented from Means of Change No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding Internal evaluation 7 32 Capital improvements as opportunity to retrofit 6 27 No specific triggers 5 23 Formal analysis 3 14 Regulatory compliance (if not grandfathered) 3 14 Industry incidents/benchmarking at other agencies 2 6 Total responses 22 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of multiple responses. TABLE 15 HOw AGENCIES CHANGE PROTOCOLS AND PROCEDURES Approach No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding Changes during repairs or whenever possible 5 42 No work-arounds 3 25 Dry standpipe system installed in tunnels 2 17 Yes, but not specified 2 17 Manned stations to assist with evacuation 1 8 Risk assessment when grandfathered 1 8 New capital projects as needed 1 8 Total responses 12 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of multiple responses. TABLE 16 wORk-AROUNDS FOR LEGACy SySTEMS TO MEET NEw REqUIREMENTS

26 entering the affected area. If the incident is deemed serious enough, passengers will be evacuated. The first agency responder is deemed the incident commander until emergency response personnel arrive. Upon their arrival, a unified command structure is established. The incident is managed by responders until completion. After the response agencies have finished, the agency will make repairs where needed and service will be restored. Another response describes variations based on fire location: when Fire and Smoke Plans A (vehicle), B (track level or platform) or C (stations) are invoked, ventilation protocols are activated based on location of incident and evacuation direction, based on information provided by site personnel. Protocols are activated by Power Control staff, based on direction of Transit Control. For an incident in a station there is one protocol available, which is based on an all-exhaust scenario (with fans at end of platforms), using the next 3 or 4 adjacent stations as support. For an incident in a tunnel there are two protocols available, based on a push-pull scenario, depending on the evacuation direction, using the next 3 or 4 adjacent stations as support. Equipment sequence activation is done manually from Power Control, although plans are to move to automatic sequence activation of the equipment (with protocol being manually activated). Table 17 shows actions taken for fires where first responders and other agencies respond. NIMS is used by nearly every responding agency when an underground fire and smoke incident occurs. A major element of NIMS is an on-site incident command to establish a chain of command and facilitate communication at the scene. Figure 8 indicates that most agencies always, and all but one usually, use NIMS. The survey asked what fire size agencies plan for in establishing their protocols and procedures. Table 18 presents the broad range of answers. Action No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding Send staff to meet responder command staff at the scene 25 96 Set up multiagency command center or similar function on your property 20 77 Send staff to a central command center not on your property 13 50 Total responses 26 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of multiple responses. TABLE 17 ACTIONS TAkEN By TRANSIT AGENCy FOR FIRES TO wHICH OTHERS ALSO RESPOND Always used 56% Usually used 40% Not used 4% n = 25 FIGURE 8 Use of NIMS to establish a chain of command at the scene.

27 Most agencies (16 of 24; 67%) are not aware of recent full-scale tests in which fire size was measured at 52 to 72 Mw in existing vehicles (roughly four times larger than most systems are designed to handle). Only one agency that was aware of the tests reported a change in protocols and procedures as a result of these tests. This agency installed a fire protection and ventilation system to address the higher HRR from certain vehicles. No respondent reported changes in the planning of new tunnels; however, the survey did not ask if the agency is currently planning new tunnels. Almost one-third of respondents (8 of 25; 32%) indicated that their agency has made changes to its standard operating procedures for managing underground fire and smoke incidents within the past 2 years. Changes typically fell into one of three categories: 1. Enhanced clarity (e.g., procedures to meet first responders at certain high-risk stations and locations, transit police defined as the first responders); 2. Improved training (more frequent drills, changes in training for control center personnel); and 3. Improved safety (new ventilation modes as a result of the operation of longer trains; updated procedures to address smoke in tunnels). The reasons for changes to SOPs included FTA safety advisories, NTSB and APTA publications, incidents at other transit agencies, installation of new controls, and changes to rail operation. traInIng Training is an integral component in planning and design for fire and smoke incidents. Table 19 shows the extent to which certain elements are included in transit agency training programs. Fire Size No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding More than 30 MW 5 24 10–30 MW 5 24 0–10 MW 4 19 Defined in agency policies and procedures but not available at the moment 4 19 All sizes and types 1 5 Based on operating experience 1 5 NFPA 130 standard 1 5 Total responses 21 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of multiple responses. TABLE 18 FIRE SIzE PLANNED FOR IN PROTOCOLS AND PROCEDURES Element No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding Review of SOPs for fire and smoke incidents on tracks, on vehicles, and in stations 23 96 ICS training 22 92 Hands-on training for use of portable fire extinguishers 17 71 Review of how smoke management system is designed to operate 10 42 Field tests of SOPs for fire and smoke incidents (in transit yard or elsewhere) 10 42 Field tests of smoke management with live or artificial smoke 9 38 Training on options if one or more fans fail to operate correctly 8 33 Total responses 24 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of multiple responses. TABLE 19 ELEMENTS INCLUDED IN TRANSIT AGENCy TRAINING PROGRAMS

28 A follow-up question revealed additional elements of agencies’ training programs. Ten agencies responded. Training in tunnels and coordination with first responders were most often mentioned (coordination with first responders is the subject of subsequent questions). Training specific to each group of employees was also mentioned; an example is the safe movement of passengers and the decision to evacuate or shelter in place for train engineers and crew. One agency cited communication with passengers as an element of agency training. Respondents described components of ongoing training with first responders from local jurisdic- tions, as shown in Table 20. Field and tabletop exercises are the most common elements of training with first responders. Other responses include: • we have developed a first guidance training manual that includes a compact disc (CD) and book and train the trainers for all jurisdictional responders. • Periodic drills. • All front line firefighters along the rail line get rail familiarization training every few years. All new firefighters get the same training during the academy training. • The transit agency meets with all jurisdictional Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) stakeholders once a month through the Council of Government committee. Eighty-eight percent of survey respondents (21 of 24) report that their agency serves multiple jurisdictions with multiple first-response teams. Table 21 shows the frequency of training for each local first-response team. Annual training is the most common response. Element No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding Joint training exercises in the field 22 92 Tabletop exercises 21 88 Classroom training exercises 14 58 Regular meetings to discuss fire response 14 58 Ad hoc meetings to discuss fire response 10 42 Online training exercises 5 21 Other/varies by jurisdiction 4 17 Total responses 24 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of multiple responses. TABLE 20 TRAINING wITH FIRST RESPONDERS FROM LOCAL JURISDICTIONS Frequency No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding Almost on a weekly basis throughout our service area 1 5 Every 6 months 1 5 Annually 8 38 We reach out to all agencies annually and issue training certificates that expire after 1 year as a reminder to retrain. Response rate from agencies is about half with between 1,000 and 2,000 individual responders trained annually. 1 5 Annually with two major cities; ad hoc basis with other cities 1 5 Every 2 years 1 5 Every 2 years or as requested 1 5 Ad hoc 5 24 Frequently 1 5 Unsure 1 5 Total responses 21 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of multiple responses. TABLE 21 FREqUENCy OF TRAINING EACH LOCAL FIRST-RESPONSE TEAM

29 As noted, many agencies rely on NIMS and its Incident Command System (ICS) to establish a chain of command in the field when responding to fire and smoke incidents. Table 22 indicates that 84% of respondents report that all of most transit agency personnel who respond to fire and smoke incidents are familiar and comfortable with NIMS. Table 23 shows greater familiarity and comfort with NIMS among first responders, with 96% of respondents reporting that all or most first responders are familiar and comfortable with NIMS. Summary Twenty-eight transit agencies responded (at least in part) to the survey regarding planning and design for fire and smoke incidents in underground passenger rail systems. More than half of respondents operate heavy rail, 46% operate light rail, and 36% operate commuter rail. Twenty-five percent of responding agencies operate multiple modes. Findings are organized by the following topic areas. • Sources of information. All respondents use NFPA 130, often in the design of transit facilities and as a best practices document. Several agencies noted that they rely on it for specific purposes, including inspection and certification, emergency planning and response, ventilation, and new construction. Respondents also use NIMS, locally developed standards and guidelines, and/or the APTA Recommended Practice Report. • Definitions. Agencies typically define “underground” as “below grade” or “subterranean.” Several agencies use a minimum length of tunnel (ranging from 150 to 1,000 ft) to define underground. Obvious signs of fire and/or smoke most often define a fire and smoke incident. • Incidents and causes. Minor underground fire and smoke incidents are not uncommon, but major incidents (defined as causing a service disruption of at least 2 h) occur less often. Arcing and trash fires in tunnels were noted by more than half of all respondents as primary causes of underground fire and smoke incidents. • Fire and smoke detection, prevention, protection, and ventilation systems. More than half of all respondents report that their agencies have an early underground fire detection system. CCTV, station smoke or heat detectors, and closed-head sprinklers (heat sensitive) in station Familiarity/Comfort No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding All are familiar/comfortable with NIMS 10 42 Most are familiar/comfortable with NIMS 10 42 Some are, some are not 3 13 Most or all are not familiar and comfortable with NIMS 1 4 Total responses 24 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of rounding. TABLE 22 FAMILIARITy OF RESPONDING AGENCy PERSONNEL wITH NIMS ICS Familiarity/Comfort No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding All are familiar/comfortable with NIMS 19 83 Most are familiar/comfortable with NIMS 3 13 Some are, some are not 1 4 Most or all are not familiar and comfortable with NIMS 0 0 Total responses 23 100 TABLE 23 FAMILIARITy OF FIRST RESPONDERS wITH NIMS ICS

30 are the most common elements. More than two-thirds of respondents report that their agency has adopted design standards or codes related to underground fire and smoke prevention and detection. Several agencies have adopted NFPA standards as their own. Most respondents indicated that their agency’s ventilation control system is designed to remove smoke and provide fresh air and/or cooling. Ventilation fans typically are controlled remotely. Almost all respondents reported that their agency regularly tests fan operation. More than half of respondents test fan operation weekly or monthly. Agencies take several different approaches to changing protocols and procedures as new techniques and regulations emerge. Internal cross-departmental evaluations are common, includ- ing debriefings after an event. Respondents also use formal quantitative analyses. Regulatory compliance is essential, although older systems may be grandfathered. Legacy systems often meet new requirements by making needed changes during repairs. Respondents also pay close attention to industry incidents and actions taken by other rail agencies. Capital improvements and the need to replace system components at the end of their useful life are triggers for retrofitting the system. • Managing incidents. Procedures for responding to and managing underground fire and smoke incidents typically involve internal and external notification, command structure, power shutoff, and evacuation. Nearly every agency uses the ICS, a major component of NIMS, to establish a unified command structure at the scene. Most agencies are not aware of recent full-scale tests in which fire size was measured at 52 to 72 Mw in existing vehicles (roughly four times larger than most systems are designed to handle). Almost one-third of respondents indicated that their agency has made changes to its SOPs for managing underground fire and smoke incidents within the past 2 years. Changes typically fell into one of three categories: enhanced clarity, improved training, or improved safety. Reasons for changes to SOPs included FTA safety advisories, NTSB and APTA publications, incidents at other transit agencies, installation of new controls, and changes to rail operation. • Training. At least half of all respondents report the review of SOPs, hands-on training in the use of portable fire extinguishers, and knowledge of ICS as components of their training programs. On-site training in tunnels and coordination with first responders were cited as additional training measures. Ongoing training with first responders from local jurisdictions typically takes the form of field and tabletop exercises. Among the 88% of respondents whose agency serves multiple jurisdictions, annual training with each first-response team is the typical sched- ule but is not always possible to achieve for agencies with large service areas. Survey responses indicate a high level of familiarity and comfort with NIMS among transit agency personnel who respond to fire and smoke incidents as well as among first responders.

Next: Chapter Four - Survey Results Part Two: Agency Assessment »
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TRB's Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Synthesis 124: Planning and Design for Fire and Smoke Incidents in Underground Passenger Rail Systems documents the state-of-the-practice to address fire and smoke incidents. Fires in underground passenger rail tunnels require implementation of different measures in order to provide safety for the passengers and ensure structural and system integrity of the facilities and operating infrastructure. The publication addresses planning, design, and operations to address fire and smoke incidents, and identifies current practices including lessons learned, challenges, and gaps in information.

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