This study investigates steps that can be taken to reduce the risk, damage, and fatalities from fires in existing and future highway tunnels and the effect of unrestricted transit of hazardous materials through them. The history of highway tunnel fires is examined to discover the design and operating features bearing on ignition, spread, detection, alarm transmission, response, control, resulting damage, and survivability aspects. Major domestic highway tunnel operators are interviewed concerning tunnel fires and their responses tabulated and compared. The procedures and results of several tunnel fire tests are examined and their recommendations evaluated in light of historical evidence and operating experience concerning tunnel fires. A risk analysis for unrestricted transit of hazardous materials through a reference tunnel is performed and applied to 35 tunnels included in the study. Qualitative assessments of the effects of traffic, tunnel design, and operations on this risk are made. Comprehensive design and operating recommendations for prevention, detection, alarm, notification, control, extinguishment, suppression, and survival are developed. A ventilation system with a fire/emergency operating mode designed to provide motorists trapped in a tunnel fire with optimal escape potential is described and its inclusion in future vehicular tunnels recommended.

  • Record URL:
  • Record URL:
  • Corporate Authors:

    Sverdrup and Parcel and Associates, Incorporated

    800 North 12th Boulevard
    St Louis, MO  United States  63101

    Federal Highway Administration

    Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, 6300 Georgetown Pike
    McLean, VA  United States  22101
  • Authors:
    • Egilsrud, P E
  • Publication Date: 1984-5

Media Info

  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Tables;
  • Pagination: 136 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00452006
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Report/Paper Numbers: FHWA-RD-83/032, HS-039 185, 8206
  • Contract Numbers: DT-FH-61-82-C-00053
  • Files: HSL, NTL, TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 31 2004 12:00AM