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A nation-wide trend in increasing the intensity of freight and public transportation created a major challenge for the fire service. The issue of the efficient movement of products and people is inextricably linked to the need for developing new fire prevention initiatives. This paper will explore the technological solutions for diminishing fire safety as a result of the deteriorating transportation infrastructure.
Overview of the Issue
The transportation industry is the major sector of the United States economy that accounts for more than 10 percent of the country’s GDP (USDT, n.d.). According to the United States Department of Transportation, around 20 million people were employed in the transportation sector in 2002 (USDT, n.d.). The projected expansion of the industry poses a significant challenge for fire safety. Moreover, the growth of population, the need to solve congestion, highway capacity, and freight traffic problems require new technological solutions for the challenge (USDT, 2015). Therefore, the companies renovating old tunnels and building new ones use communication technologies, networks, and the Internet as resources for solving the issue of diminishing fire safety.
With the inevitable deterioration of the existing infrastructure and simultaneous growth of the transportation industry, the issue of fire safety in rail and road tunnels becomes more prominent each year. A wide spectrum of negative factors associated with their use ranging from threats such as fire incidents, including flammable cargo and vehicle or tanker fuel to terrorist attacks, poses a considerable risk to many lives (Siemens, 2010). The potential human cost and serious business disruptions are the main concerns of national and international tunnel safety initiatives aimed at the development of technological solutions to infrastructure challenges (Siemens, 2010).
A fire in a tunnel considerably differs from a fire in a building; thus, implementation of proper safety measures with the use of communication technologies and networks greatly facilitates the fire-fighting efforts. The incidence of fires is significantly lower for the tunnels than for open roads; however, their human cost can be much higher (Siemens, 2010). Even though fire prevention is the main priority, the use of fire detection solutions integrated via network channels with response systems proves effective in the safe people evacuation and helps significantly decrease structural damage and potential human cost (Siemens, 2010).
The engineering companies like Siemens deliver holistic technological solutions that utilize existing communication technologies, networks, and the Internet and can guarantee optimal fire safety. Their cutting-edge fire safety solutions can detect and locate a fire as well as transfer the information about its progression and the potential hazard to firefighters. Siemens offers advanced surveillance systems that are able to analyze video records from the tunnels and produce alarm signals if predefined safety requirements like speed and distance are violated (Siemens, 2010).
The company’s video smoke detection systems provide timely intelligence to intervention forces, enabling them remotely to assess reports on potentially dangerous situations and adequately respond to them (Siemens, 2010). Siemens also offers solutions for extremely targeted fire detection. The company’s FibroLaser cable with the function of heat recognition is capable of identifying a fire in a span of only one minute. Moreover, the technology can locate ignition within only three meters from its point (Siemens, 2010).
Web databases offer a viable solution for the dramatic reduction of deadly incidents and fires in the tunnels that can result in prolonged disruptions to the operation of the transport systems and a threat to human life (Thematic Network Fire in Tunnels, n.d.). Their use can lead to optimizing efforts on fire safety in rail and metro tunnels. The European Thematic Network presented six consultable web databases with the objective of optimizing research initiatives and projects on fire safety in tunnels. They list all research findings, thus improving knowledge transfer and increasing synergy via technological means.
The databases also collect reports on fire accidents and data on upgrade activities in different tunnels (Thematic Network Fire in Tunnels, n.d.). Moreover, numerical models that are being used for benchmarking by international institutions and specialized contractors support collaborative efforts in the tunnel safety field (Thematic Network Fire in Tunnels, n.d.). All databases are being structured and monitored by the European Thematic Network managers who are responsible for the input of information (Thematic Network Fire in Tunnels, n.d.). They also register personal presentations of more than 1400 of the Network’s members who work towards the expansion of the fire safety information and its subsequent dissemination (Thematic Network Fire in Tunnels, n.d.).
Life Safety Initiatives
Risk Management and Technology initiatives are applicable to this assignment because effective and adequate use of communication technologies can drastically decrease “injuries and line-of-duty deaths” (Everyone Goes Home, n.d. b). With the growing rates of international and national mobility, the issue of the effective use of Internet technologies for solving fire safety problems and reducing transportation security risks gains more prominence every day. Moreover, the implementation of monitoring systems could help to address the problem on the strategic level, thereby facilitating safe conduction of emergency operations (Everyone Goes Home, n.d. a).
Everyone Goes Home. (n.d. a). Risk Management. Web.
Everyone Goes Home. (n.d. b). Technology. Web.
Siemens. (2010). How can we optimize tunnel safety and availability? Web.
Thematic Network Fire in Tunnels (n.d.). General Report. Web.
USDT. (2015). Women and Skilled Careers in Transportation. Web.
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USDT. (n.d.). Economic Impact of Transportation. Web.