On the problem of ventilation control in case of a tunnel fire event

Peter-Johann Sturm, Michael Beyer, Mehdi Rafiei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The proper operation of a ventilation system plays a key role in tunnel safety. Foremost, the ventilation system needs to provide acceptable air quality for the safe passage of tunnel users. Further, it needs to provide tenable environment and to facilitate rescue conditions during a smoke or fire event. While accomplishing the first task (normal operation), i.e. providing sufficient fresh air, is relatively straightforward, dealing with the second issue is the subject of considerable debate since defining the best means to ventilate a tunnel during a
fire emergency is not always clear.
Although fire tests in tunnels have been performed since the early 1960s, and although the topic of fire ventilation was raised in early national and international guidelines, relatively little interest was given to fire ventilation until several big fire events occurred in the 1990s. The tunnel ventilation systems and ventilation methodologies existing at that time proved to work well under normal operation, but failed during fire ventilation.
Nowadays, the design and operation of the ventilation system during
fire incidents (commonly called ‘fire ventilation’) is a major topic. While the design might follow the well-established principles, the question, ‘how to control tunnel ventilation during a fire event?’, is quite controversial. This paper discusses methods of fire ventilation with a focus on the methodologies themselves as well as on the requirements for sensors and control
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-43
JournalCase Studies in Fire Safety
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Ventilation of road tunnels
  • Fire ventilation
  • Smoke control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Engineering(all)

Fields of Expertise

  • Mobility & Production

Treatment code (Nähere Zuordnung)

  • Application
  • Theoretical
  • Review

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