The tunnel training centre is established as a consequence of several severe tunnel fires in Switzerland and Europe. Each year there are 2300 Swiss participants, but also many international participants on these courses. Learning important basic skills for fire fighting in tunnels. Important part of the Fire Academy´s program is also to train management so they can establish a well functional incident command in their units. It is important to have an incident command that have both knowledge and experience to facilitate the best decisions during an incident.
In 2017, the International Fire Academy extended the centre with new building facilities, new top modern classrooms and other facilities, and Balsthal training centre is now equipped with the latest technologies when it comes to facilitate teamwork and learning. The tunnel training facilities in the tunnel are custom made for training purposes, and the participants are learning in an environment that is close up to a real fire, and easy to repeat training by turning on and of fire and smoke.
Learning by doing is important for this state of the art training course. The 30 hour basic tunnel training for fire fighters are mostly done in practical lessons in the 260 meter training tunnel in Balsthal and in the 170 meter long training tunnel in Lungern. Every fire fighter in Switzerland learn the tactical methods on how to act in a fire incident in a tunnel. A training that is considered a prerequisite for a safe and fast response to these types of incidents.
There are three types of teams in the Swiss tactical tunnel fire respond method, the reconnaissance team, the fire fighting team and the search and rescue team. In addition there is an incident command.
Every fire fighter in the Swiss fire departments now how to act and how to communicate in the different teams (basic training). This well proven method give the Swiss authorities a quick and safe information about the situation, quick and safe fire fighting response, and a quick and safe search, in any road tunnel fire in Switzerland.
A very important initiative for tunnel safety in Europe, and it is impressive how the Swiss authorities give priority to tunnel safety.
The Photos in this article is taken during a training course for Brandweer Zuid-Limburg, a highly skilled firefighter unit from the Netherlands, learning the Swiss tactical tunnel fire respond method.