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Passive Fire Protection Federation letter on the latest Channel Tunnel crisis
Published:  22 January, 2010

David Sugden, Chairman of the Passive Fire Protection Federation, calls into question the fire safety strategy of the Channel Tunnel

Dear Ann-Marie

Both Eurostar (which operates the trains) and Eurotunnel (which operates the tunnel) were clearly ill-prepared to handle this weekend's breakdown. But their fire safety strategy is in question too. After the last major fire in 2008 Eurotunnel is developing a new fire safety strategy based on moving freight train carriages to an 'extinguishing area' where sprinklers will douse the fire and passengers and crew are evacuated into a (probably) smoke-and-flame filled tunnel. If the trains can't move -for up to 16 hours! - this strategy is a nonsense - and a very dangerous one at that. Fires can start and spread rapidly, even in sub-zero temperatures.

The Passive Fire Protection Federation challenged Eurotunnel on the BBC1 Politics show earlier in 2009 on their fire safety strategy. Despite repeated chasing, we have received no response on this matter - vital to both passengers and crew. There are likely to be more breakdowns and more fires in the tunnel. The question is when, and at what cost?

Yours sincerely

David Sugden
Chairman, Passive Fire Protection Federation