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31 IntroductIon This is the second 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 previ- ous chapter addressed survey results related to sources of information; definitions; incidents and causes; detection, prevention, protection, and ventilation; protocol and procedures for fire and smoke incident management; and training. This chapterâs focus is on agenciesâ evaluations of their planning for and management of fire and smoke incidents. Specific topics include challenges, next-generation tools, lessons learned that would be of interest to other transit agencies, and elements of the âidealâ fire prevention and response system and how it would differ from those in use today. challenges Respondents rated various potential challenges related to underground fire and smoke incidents. Table 24 displays the results. Major challenges were defined as having a significant actual or potential effect on an agencyâs ability to respond to and resolve the situation; minor challenges were defined as being of concern but not rising to the level of life-and-death issues. No element was rated as a major challenge by more than 25% of the respondents. Intensity of the fire and difficulty in gaining access to the site were mentioned most often as a major challenge. Respondents elaborated on various challenges. Access to older sections of the rail system often is difficult and sometimes requires a long walk or taking a train to perform reconnaissance with fire department personnel on board. An intense fire (e.g., in a power substation) can prevent first responders from gaining immediate access because of the need to shut down the power supply. Early detection is an issue, but clear SOPs for the different disciplines within the transit agency once a fire alarm has been activated may be even more important. The challenges can vary from major to minor depending on the specific incident and the exact location. Training is variable and can be difficult to arrange because of other commitments among first responders, staff turnover, and remote locations of rail maintenance and storage facilities. If transit equipment is not in the yards during the business day, training is relegated to special midday circumstances, weekends, and some evenings. Respondents also answered an open-ended question to describe the major challenge related to underground fire and smoke incidents. Incorporation of new technologies in legacy systems, ventila- tion issues, and cost/funding were the three challenges mentioned most often. Table 25 summarizes the responses. Examples of specific responses are provided here. Old infrastructures built pre-NFPA-130, constructed with equipment designed only for general ventilation, as well as some stations with limited egress capacity, some with only one egress from each platform. There are so many ventilation scenarios to design, depending o[n] so many factors, that it can be really difficult to manage the entire system and keep it up to date. I believe that the principal difficulty is to validate your theoretical scenarios with real life. It takes a lot of experience to analyze the situation. One major challenge during the design of our underground system was being able to provide a train detection system that would indicate the zones w[h]ere a smoke event was occurring. We solved this problem by posting reflectorized signs indicating the zone numbers and by positioning cameras at each zone that send the video data back to the control center. chapter four survey results Part two: agency assessment
32 Some of the challenges during planning and design are that many times in the industry the safety engineers are not on board during this stage and are brought in later. I find this happens in many cases. When this happens hazards are not designed out during the planning and development stages of the project. It is really important to have your safety team involved very early in the design. Some other challenges are locations, high water tables and spacing. These variables can make the evacuations challenging. Even choosing fire suppression systems, placement of steps/escalators and elevators. Having more than one emergency evacuation route from a tunnel or station. The proximity of other buildings and structures that could be affected by fire/smoke incidents. Ensur- ing that all of your exhaust fans are working and you have replacement parts and that you are managing your assets and identifying those that are critical. Of course ensuring that your agency is in a state of good repair and that you have defined it based on your operating environment. Long term maintenance plans, budgets and testing procedures must be addressed. Having an independent QA [quality assurance] of your system is critical. Potential Challenge Major Challenge (%) Minor Challenge (%) Not a Challenge (%) No. of Agencies Responding Intensity of fire 25 55 20 20 Difficulty in accessing the site 20 50 30 20 Passenger evacuation 15 65 20 20 Timely detection 15 40 45 20 Sufficient number of trained and proficient transit staff to support training of emergency responders 15 35 50 20 Confusion at the scene of the fire 10 60 30 20 Training of agency personnel 10 35 55 20 Inadequate ventilation 10 30 60 20 Establishing chain of command at the scene 5 50 45 20 Training of first responders 5 45 50 20 TAbLE 24 RATINgS OF POTENTIAL CHALLENgES Challenge No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding Incorporating new technologies/retrofits within the limitations of a legacy system 7 25 Managing/designing ventilation systems 5 18 Cost and funding 3 11 Determining the exact location where a fire/smoke incident is occurring 2 7 Coordinating with other agencies sharing the tunnel 2 7 Limited amount of references or standards regarding design for underground train fires affecting tunnel and platform environments (e.g., fire/HRR) 2 7 Evacuation route considerations 1 4 Midcar train fire in tunnel 1 4 Awareness of SOPs 1 4 Ensuring a customized approach based on specifics of the location 1 4 24/7 operation 1 4 Involving safety engineers during planning/design 1 4 None 1 4 Total responses 28 100 NOTE: Percentages do not add to 100% because of rounding. TAbLE 25 ONE MAjOR CHALLENgE
33 next-generatIon tools Transit agencies are exploring new technologies to prevent or minimize the impact of underground fires, although many prefer to rely on tried-and-true methods. Table 26 presents survey responses. The survey also asked about any promising approaches undertaken or planned that would be of interest to other rail agencies for managing underground fire and smoke incidents. Table 27 summarizes the responses. Ventilation-related approaches include: â¢ Automated scenarios to coordinate response between jet fans and supply/exhaust louvers that reduce the possibility of forcing air in competing directions; â¢ Computer models that simulate smoke and heat flow to optimize design of ventilation systems; New Technology No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding None 10 38 Yes, but not specified 3 12 Ventilation systems 3 12 New fire alarm notification systems 2 8 Use of new components that do not add to fire load 2 8 New supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system tied to the OCC 1 4 Early detection such as video analytics 1 4 Review of new fire life safety systems and response protocols 1 4 Test prototype/installation of onboard fire suppression system 1 4 Onboard mist suppression 1 4 Infrared detectors to scan tunnel roadway for heat signatures 1 4 Very early smoke detection apparatus (VESDA) system for smoke detection to activate ventilation in the most favorable way 1 4 New types of chemical agents 1 4 Total responses 26 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of multiple responses. TAbLE 26 ExPLORATION OF NEW TECHNOLOgIES Approach No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding Ventilation-related 5 22 Training/emergency drills 5 22 None 5 22 Detection/suppression systems for rail cars 3 13 Emphasis on preventive maintenance 2 9 Linear heat detection 1 4 Use of ICS in all responses 1 4 Not specified 1 4 Site-specific planning 1 4 Use of mode tables that control center is trained to use 1 4 Total responses 23 100 NOTE: Totals do not add to 100% because of multiple responses. TAbLE 27 PROMISINg APPROACHES OF POSSIbLE INTEREST TO OTHER TRANSIT AgENCIES
34 â¢ Mechanical door assists on egress doors to overcome forces created by emergency ventilation systems; â¢ Test of each emergency ventilation sequence at least once per quarter; and â¢ Ongoing ventilation studies. lessons learned Lessons learned that would be helpful for other transit agencies are shown in Table 28. Frequent emergency drills and strong working relationships with first responders were emphasized. Selected responses are presented by category. All comments are reported as expressed by agency respondents. Frequent emergency training exercises (as stated) â¢ Drill, drill, drill is the name of the game to stay current and prepared. â¢ Need to test ventilation equipment and keep control staff trained. â¢ Having the local fire department serve as part of the tunnel rescue team during the construction of the under- ground workings. â¢ Our Underground Fire Prevention Training Centre, used to train our staff and local police and fire department. â¢ Train your employees. Ensure all employees receive NIMS training as appropriate. Test the system frequently. â¢ We provide rail familiarization training for the fire units that would respond to our system. â¢ Hold frequent emergency training exercises. strong working relationships with First responders (as stated) â¢ Train all of your jurisdictional fire departments and police or any agencies you interact with frequently, and update emergency telephone list for control centers. â¢ Training first responders frequently. Document the trainingâboth transit and Fire Department need to document. â¢ Maintaining a very good working relationship with the local fire department through all phases of the project leading up to the certificate of occupancy. â¢ With regard to planning, we utilize designated command post locations for emergency forces to respond to as a regular practice, which we incorporate life safety monitoring and control equipment in. It also benefits us to establish a forward operating command post which aides in providing real time information and a better coor- dinated response to incidents. â¢ Timely notification to first responders is critical of any fire/smoke incident. Keep first responders aware of the environment through training is also important. A clear line of communication between the transit agency and first responders is important especially during the initial response in order to orient the first responders as they arrive. Lessons Learned No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding Frequent emergency training exercises 10 45 Strong working relationships with first responders 7 32 SOPs and regular updates 4 18 Communication with other transit agencies 3 14 Design and testing of ventilation system 3 14 Planning for the future 3 14 Adequate budgeting for safety 3 14 Focus on overall safety system along with individual components 2 9 Communication with passengers 2 9 Prevention 1 5 Total responses 22 100 NOTE: Multiple responses allowed; percentages do not add to 100%. TAbLE 28 LESSONS LEARNED
35 â¢ The City Fire Department is the primary response group and all fire houses along the rail system get refresher training on a regular basis. The Fire Training Academy has also made this training a part of their curriculum and all new firefighters get it. This has been the case for more than 10 years. standard operating Procedures and regular updates (as stated) â¢ Review SOPs/EOPs [emergency operations plans] annually or post an event. â¢ Lessons from previous incidentsâhot wash with all responders. What went well, what did not. â¢ Simulations to guide your approach to design. communications with other transit agencies (as stated) â¢ There was an incident in which two work crews, one from our agency and another with our sister agency working near the same local had ventilation fans configured in a way which would have been appropriate for each on its own, however in combination ended up unintentionally discharging smoke into our subway. It demonstrated the importance of communicating and coordinating actions between our respective organizations. â¢ Develop a tunnel standard. Install only primary response and then include IOP channels. design and testing of ventilation systems (as stated) â¢ Need to test ventilation equipment and keep control staff trained. â¢ Consider potential impacts of ventilation fan directed air flow on passenger evacuation route selection. For example, the most effective route may be against the wind and Venturi effect when passing cars in the tunnel may be significant. â¢ Provide jet type fans in tunnels that are capable of evacuating smoke in a predetermined direction through use of pre-programmed scenarios. During a smoke/fire event the controllers are able to select the zone and event location and activate a preset scenario that automatically sets fans and louvers to the correct position exhausting smoke and providing a safe evacuation path for passengers. Planning for the Future (as stated) â¢ Update technology. â¢ Ensure you have long term maintenance plans. â¢ Retrofitting existing system to meet new ridership demand is needed from time to time and is very difficult. Suggest to leave sufficient real estate for future use particularly for life safety system. adequate Budgeting for safety (as stated) â¢ budget for future repairs, inspections and testing. â¢ Planning a budget for safety. â¢ Funding for equipment for first responders. Focus on overall safety system along with Individual components (as stated) â¢ Performing an exhaustive test of the integrated systems and controls to ensure it all works in concert and as designed before closure of any project regardless of sign-off by AHjs [authorities having jurisdiction]. â¢ Engineers and Contractors are great for designing complex systems and installing them (e.g., emergency ventilation), but do not appear to provide much in the way of operations manuals or monthly tests designed to test operation of the system as a whole. Our experience appears to indicate that you get plenty of manuals on individual pieces of the system and how to maintain it or test that piece. communication with Passengers (as stated) â¢ Communications with passengers is the biggest lesson learned. Keeping them informed during an incident is paramount. â¢ Customer safety awareness campaigns. Prevention (as stated) â¢ As close as possible, maintain a debris free right-of-way. Especially around third rail transitions.
36 the Ideal system The final question in the assessment section of the survey was: based upon your experience, do you have any recommendations for specifications or design features for inclusion in the design of new tunnels or retrofit of legacy tunnels? What would the âidealâ fire prevention and response system look like to you? How would it be different from today? Many respondents took a systemic approach, whereas others focused on specific critical elements, especially the ventilation system. Two respondents offered no recommendations. Responses are pre- sented by category. All comments are reported as expressed by agency respondents. system approach â¢ You have to consider every aspects in order to design an ideal system. NFPA 130 surely define the ideal system but for me, ventilation system have to be the critical one. â¢ As designed to NFPA standards, our tunnel system with evacuation routes, Tunnel Ventilation System . . . and fire suppression connections appear to be ideal. â¢ System detection/event location presents one of our biggest challenges. A hardened system not subject to the elements with some sort of graphical user interface integrated with a pre-populated SCADA [supervisory control and data acquisition] system would be ideal. â¢ The ideal system would be able to detect an issue, eliminate a false alarm, instruct the control center on how to manage other vehicles, and finally direct first responders. â¢ Considering the limited resources, itâs important for any system to be practical and as âautomaticâ as possible. As weâve learned from recent events, a system may not be effective when it is controlled by people. The basic human error factors are always in play but when you also place those controls with an already overtaxed rail operations controller you increase your risk of error. Automation in detection and activation are key to any modern system. â¢ At this time no, but I would recommend reviewing any national incident reports related to fire prevention and evacuation and researching new technology on fire prevention in tunnels. â¢ We are fully implemented with new detection and communication system. No fire life-safety system though is without potential problems and on-going routine testing to ensure adequacy is a must. â¢ Analytical camera in every room to double check room for hazards and smoke/fire. A drop down list from the fire zone for every stationâs room with contents, mean of access (key) purpose and known hazards within room. A way to bring up the fire zone remotely and wireless access and to examine the room thru the use of a lap-top viewing the analytical cameras. Tunnel ventilation control at or near the kiosk. In-house telephone at street level for FD access if not able to access station phone/controls. â¢ Tunnel systems need segregation of the tubes, SCADA [supervisory control and data acquisition] for ventila- tion control, according to ventilation modeling. ventilation system â¢ Ideal would be a transverse ventilation system that isolates the smoke and extracts it near the source of the fire, instead of a longitudinal system that sends the smoke along the tunnel (where passengers may be located). â¢ Would recommend having the ventilation placed at the top of the tunnel. â¢ At-grade HMI [humanâmachine interface] panels are one thing we added on a recent project (2012 year completion). These allow remote operation of emergency ventilation in case communication is lost with the control center, and allows control by a local Supervisor or Incident Commander if that be needed or desired. â¢ Positioning and sizing ventilation facilities is critical. Rehabilitation of existent facilities is sometime hard to do because you cannot build your ventilation system as exactly as you want to. â¢ Our ventilation system is a result of existing tunnel retrofits as we are a legacy system. When there is an oppor- tunity to modify station, tunnels, etc. updating the vent system, etc. characteristics is made part of any analysis. non-combustible materials â¢ Material linings that donât burn, smoke or retain heat are products we reviewed and trialed but were never able to receive funding. â¢ I would also recommend looking at any materials used in your tunnels for flammability and on your vehicles. â¢ Reduce or eliminate to the extent possible combustible material. other elements â¢ Cameras are critical to early response. â¢ Increasing the number of emergency exits.
37 â¢ based on our experience with âwetâ standpipe systems in running, we recommend âdryâ standpipes in our new tunnels going forward. This allows for cost for maintenance (including heat trace elements) and the on- going electrical costs for heat trace systems. â¢ As a recommendation, prior to startup, the disabled community lobbied for and were granted a change associated with operation of the elevators in the tunnel stations. During a fire and smoke evacuation scenario, the elevators remain operational to allow for disabled self-evacuation. The Tunnel Ventilation System pumps air through the elevator shafts to maintain air flow. Table 29 summarizes responses about the ideal system by category. summary This chapter describes agency assessments of their planning for and management of fire and smoke incidents. Findings include: â¢ Intensity of the fire and difficulty in gaining access to the site were most often rated as a major challenge related to fire and smoke incidents. No element was rated as a major challenge by more than 25% of the respondents. â¢ Incorporation of new technologies in legacy systems, ventilation issues, and cost/funding were the three responses mentioned most often in replay to an open-ended question regarding the single biggest challenge faced by the transit agency. â¢ Transit agencies are exploring new technologies to prevent or minimize the impact of underground fires, although many prefer to rely on tried-and-true methods. Automated means of early detection, fire suppression, ventilation, and notification are among new technologies under consideration or being installed. â¢ Respondents also reported on promising approaches undertaken or planned that would be of interest to other rail agencies for managing underground fire and smoke incidents. These include optimized ventilation systems, onboard fire suppression, and linear heat detection. â¢ Frequent emergency drills and strong working relationships with first responders were reported among lessons learned that would be helpful for other transit agencies. Review of training exer- cises and incidents yield valuable lessons. â¢ Many respondents took a systemic approach in defining the âidealâ fire prevention and response system, emphasizing the various elements of the ideal system (detection, ventilation, notifica- tion, use of noncombustible materials, etc.) and the need for all elements to function as part of the overall system. Automation is part of the ideal system. â¢ Respondents emphasize the importance of testing the entire system (not only its individual components) before acceptance and of frequent emergency training exercises for agency staff and first responders. Category No. of Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding Holistic system approach 9 47 Focus on ventilation system 6 32 Focus on noncombustible materials 3 16 Focus on other elements 4 21 No recommendations 2 11 Total responses 19 100 NOTE: Multiple responses allowed; percentages do not add to 100%. TAbLE 29 RESPONSES TO THE âIDEALâ FIRE PREVENTION/ RESPONSE SYSTEM QUESTION