Fire in a tunnel: To blow or not to blow? Edinburgh

22 March, 2016 | 18:00 - 19:30

Workers alongside heavy machinery. Picture courtesy of Crossrail.
Workers alongside heavy machinery. Picture courtesy of Crossrail.

About this event

For over 100 years, the standard strategy for fire safety in a tunnel or mine network has been to use ventilation fans to direct the smoke from any fire away from the egress path used by the majority of people in the tunnel. While this is often the right thing to do, experience has shown that ventilation systems are sometimes not able to do this in practice. Furthermore, blowing on a fire may cause the fire to grow, producing more smoke.

In some circumstances, not using a ventilation system, even if one is available, is the right thing to do. This lecture will discuss the science, the engineering and the practicalities of using real ventilation systems in real tunnels, to maximise life safety in the event of a fire in a tunnel.

Registration and refreshments from 6.00pm for a 6.30pm start

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You can join the event up to 15 minutes before the start time of 6.30pm:

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For further information on this event, please contact Ross Elliot:

Event materials

The following materials are available for download:


Ricky Carvel

Ricky is Lecturer in Combustion & Fire Dynamics at the University of Edinburgh. He is editor of the 'Handbook of Tunnel Fire Safety' (2nd Edition, ICE Publishing, 2011) and associate editor of Fire Safety Journal. He has been working in the field of fire science and tunnel fire phenomena since 1998. His research work has focussed on the interaction between fires and ventilation (specifically tunnel ventilation systems, crosswinds and, currently, under-ventilated fires such as in basements and ships' holds).

In 2004 he was awarded a PhD from Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh, Scotland) for his thesis "Fire Size in Tunnels". In addition to fire vs. ventilation research, he has also been involved into research in dust explosions, ignition, material flammability, CFD modelling and fire suppression. He has authored more than 20 journal papers and more than 40 conference papers.