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Fires in Underground Transport Systems - Essay Example

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The researcher of this paper will attempt to discuss the causes and effects of tunnel fires or fire accidents in underground transportation systems. It will also make recommendations to mitigate the impact of such types of disasters in future…
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Fires in Underground Transport Systems
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Download file to see previous pages Invisible flames and clean wood smoke caused misinterpretations among emergency response teams. In addition to 31 deaths, more than 60 people got hurt ranging from smoke inhalation to severe burns. Kaprun fire disaster The Kaprun fire disaster occurred at the Gletscherbahn 2 railway tunnel in Austria on 11th November 2000. The disaster killed 155 people; 12 people including 10 Germans and 2 Austrian were the only survivors of the catastrophe. As Carvel et al (2005, p. 6) claim, the unscientific infrastructure of the railway car greatly added to the disaster. To illustrate, the unit had kept its fire extinguishers out of the travellers’ reach and there were no smoke detectors on the board. The fire was ignited by an electric heater at the lower end of the train evidently due to a faulty design. The braking system pipes containing flammable hydraulic fluid were quickly melted and this condition resulted in an unexpected halt of the train. The intense fire damaged the emergency exit systems of the train and therefore majority of the passengers were trapped in the train. Prior to the Kaprun disaster, designers had held a general view that fire would not occur in a funicular cabin. 1995 Baku Metro fire According to Fridolf (2010), the fire occurred in the subway system in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, on 28th October 1995 claimed the lives of 289 people. Electrical malfunction is believed to be the ultimate cause of the disaster even though there alleged to have a deliberate sabotage. Although 95% of the passengers survived the disaster, it remains the world’s deadliest fire in the underground transport system (ibid). Firstly, passengers observed white smoke, which was quickly turned to thick black smoke and caused...
From this research it is clear that underground transportation systems planned and built these days are obviously very complex and vulnerable to fire accidents. Evidences show that fire accidents in the recent past caused extreme damages to people and property alike. Due to the spatial limitations of an underground transportation system, tunnel fires hinder all ‘rescue and repair’ operations and hence add to the intensity of the catastrophe. In addition, unlike other accident scenarios, passengers are less aware of the sources of danger and may not have clear and coherent information. This situation will also become a barrier to evacuation measures and increase the magnitude of the disaster. As Julga argues, technical defects and accidents are the two fundamental causes of fires in underground transportation systems. Although a variety of fire resisting tunnel transportation technologies have been developed recently, none of them is potential enough to completely eliminate the danger of fire. Some of the recent fire accidents in underground transportations systems are described in the paper. They would help one to understand the seriousness of the issue. There are two fundamental causes for fires in underground transportations systems: technical defects and accidents. Evidences suggest that technical defects are the main causes of majority of underground tunnel fires. The discussion altogether indicates that fires in underground transport result in dreadful impacts including human and material damage and immeasurable socio-economic losses. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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