Canadian Consulting Engineer

RESEARCH: Burning trains in tunnels

A full-scale fire testing facility that will allow fire researchers to study smoke management in subway tunnels, train stations and underground parking areas is to be built outside Ottawa. The testing...

May 1, 2002   Canadian Consulting Engineer

A full-scale fire testing facility that will allow fire researchers to study smoke management in subway tunnels, train stations and underground parking areas is to be built outside Ottawa. The testing centre will also be used for studying smoke movement in the atria of commercial and residential buildings.

The centre will be the first of its kind in the world, and is being built for Carleton University’s graduate program in fire safety engineering. The director is Dr. George Hadjisophocleous, P.Eng., the industrial research chair in fire safety engineering at the university.

To be built adjoining the existing National Research Council’s fire testing facility in Almonte, the 1,700-m2 centre will cost $10 million and include a 10-storey atrium, 50-metre long tunnel, and a burn hall large enough to hold a frame house. The Canadian Foundation for Innovation approved a $4 million contribution to the $10 million project in January. Other partners include the NRC, Ottawa Fire Services and the Toronto Transit Commission, which is donating old subway cars.

“There was a need within the fire-safety industry for this type of research,” Dr. Hadjisophocleous explains. “Currently, building fire safety measures are based on computer models that have not been tested in real life. This centre will allow us actually to burn a train car, for example, and gather the results of ventilation performance, heat distribution and the effect on the tunnel.”

Construction of the 1,700-m2 facility should begin in 1993.


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