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European thematic network on fire in tunnels

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International committee on fire safety in tunnels

The establishment of the Committee on Operational Safety of Underground Facilities heralds a new era in tunnel safety, not only in Europe, but worldwide.

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A number of accidents in recent years has highlighted the need to address the issue of fire safety in tunnels in a more effective manner. The European Commission supported several relevant R&D projects, including a thematic network entitled FIT that was created to facilitate knowledge transfer. In total over 100 companies, from construction firms to tunnel operators to emergency response services, were involved in FIT. The full range of stakeholders was represented. As FIT drew to a close, it became apparent that significant value could be obtained by extending the constructive collaboration cultivated during the project. The FIT participants examined several different options and consequently created the Committee on Operational Safety of Underground Facilities (COSUF) in collaboration with the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association (ITA). The backing of the World Road Association (PIARC) was also acquired. COSUF will attempt to extend networking activities from the European to international scale. In addition, teams composed of experts participating in COSUF will tackle specific research agendas. Efforts will be made to elicit the funding necessary to carry out the research. Finally, COSUF will seek to continuously promote fire safety through a variety of educational and awareness initiatives.

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