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June 15, 2022

054 - The sustainability talk, tunnels and fire safety with Arnold Dix (part 1)

054 - The sustainability talk, tunnels and fire safety with Arnold Dix (part 1)

A few episodes ago I called for better communication in fire safety. And in this episode, tunnel fire safety legend Prof. Arnold Dix is answering that, by teaching us the ways of the 'sustainability' talk - how to communicate better having the global sustainability goals in mind? But it is not only a way of communication. It is a mindset. And it is a powerful one, leading to a rethink of the concept of safety and how one is delivered. A rejuvenating perspective in which we are mindful of our solutions and the goals we wish to achieve.

It may be too good to be true, but then again... it is not the first time the tunnelling industry is ahead of the curve. We are still discussing how to deal with risk methods, while for a long time it is a standard approach in tunnelling. We still wonder if buildings really need to survive burnout, while tunnelling talks about resiliency. We wonder which plume model to use in our atria, while tunnelling fully embraces PBD. These are just some examples, but they really highlight how this industry is on the leading edge in innovative and disruptive ways for fire safety. 

I hope you will enjoy this episode. There is a lot we can learn from the tunnelling industry, that we can implement at every end of fire safety. And if you like this talk  I have good news for you! Next week, join us for part 2. Innovative approaches in transportation, how will they change our cities and the landscape of fire protection engineering! An episode not to be missed.

Transcript
Wojciech Wegrzynski:

Hello, and welcome to episode 54 of the fire science show. Great to have you here in the first year of fire science show. We've opened up with the interviewer with the famous professor, professor Guillermo Rein, And for a good start for the second year, I also have a quite famous professor in, here today, and I'm really thrilled to host him on the show. His name is Arnold Dix he's from Australia and he specializes in tunnels. In fact, he's the president elect of international tunnel association and, He just received an NFPA award for committee service on his, input to NFPAs 5 0 2 and one 30, which are critical for tunnel engineering. So he certainly knows a thing or two about tunnels. I've met him for the first time, like 10 years ago in Sweden, on a Metro seminar where he gave a really interesting speech at the conference dinner about his journey. I actually thought he is a standupper who was just invited because that talk was absolutely hilarious and I loved it. And now I've rediscovered him 10 years later, uh, just a few months ago in the Graz conference in Austria, where he gave a really passionate talk about. Fire engineers, learning the wording of sustainability words, how to talk the talk, as he said, how to communicate with sustainability goals in mind and how these goals can actually change the perception of your own work and the telling projects we're involved with. And. Particular topic , was the one that I've invited him into the show with. But as you will hear, we've went far beyond that. And it was really, really great adventure. He asked me before the interview, what are we going to talk about? And I told him, we will start with sustainability and no one knows where we will end. And that's actually what happened, but it ended up really well. I actually ended, it's not an end because I have invited him for parts two, which you will hear the next week where we will talk about more and more interesting, aspects of, tunnel engineering model technologies and the role of fire science and all that. I hope you will love it. I. Did absolutely every single minute of this discussion is such a great speaker and such a cheerful person. I absolutely adore him. And, I hope you will hear that through the podcast that the energy is great and we're having great time for. Discussing important matters in fire safety. So I guess I got your attention right now and I hope, uh, you'll stay till the end of the episode and tune in for the next week where we will hear part two let's spin the intro and let's go. hello everybody. Welcome to the second year of the podcast and we're opening it with, uh, great guests. I have today. Professor Arnold Dix the President Elect of International Tunnel Association. Hey Arnold. Great. Great to have you in the

Arnold Dix:

you. Thanks for having me.

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

Yeah, I'm very happy, always happy to have great guests. And, from a small sample, uh, in the conference few weeks ago, it's gonna be, it is gonna be a

Arnold Dix:

I'm,

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

talk

Arnold Dix:

Well, I'm excited. I'm excited.

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

I'm, excited as well. So, uh, I've snapped you at the Graz event and, you gave a really good talk about, uh, New ways of communicating, , with everyone around non-engineers, especially in relation to, sustainability and, and our need to change the way, we communicate in order to. Keep our jobs and, and still be able to doing what, what we're doing. The world is changing. So we need to adapt, but before we go into how to speak to speak or talk to talk, like you said, let's settle up. How sustainable tunnels are. You really think that, tunnels are a great part of, of sustainability of the new world.

Arnold Dix:

what a loaded question to get off straight up, punch me straight in the nose. Come. Double barrel to the head. You have asked the absolute cl of a question for us right here at this stage in human history, because traditionally you'd have to say our tunnels have been instrumental in delivering, water, sanitation, power, um, all transport, all the great things for our civilization. However, right now, I think there's some big questions about the value proposition of underground infrastructure moving forward from a sustainability point of view and from a carbon footprint point of view and from a, uh, climate crisis point of view. And that's why I made that presentation in Graz saying my friends. We need to understand this narrative right now in order to not only. Communicate the sustainability of the underground, and what it delivers for humanity and the planet, but to double check that we are right, actually to double check, just, I think it's time to pause and have a look and go, are these assets that we've created really, as wonderful as we think they are in terms of the current pressing climate emergency sustainability agenda. What have you? I think the answer is yes. Like I do think they are. Um, and, and I think they're overwhelmingly. Yes, because they're intergenerational. So whereas buying a new car or, making a choice over some consumer item or, even building a, a road or building a house or something like that, you've really gotta. You know, ask yourself some hard questions. I think with our underground infrastructure, because it lasts and it lasts for hundreds or maybe even thousands of years that really tips it into the, yes, this really is transformational kind of stuff. Let's do it right. And generation upon generation of human beings. And. The planet itself can take advantage of it, but, but to answer it like that, we've really gotta stop,

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

Yeah.

Arnold Dix:

look in the mirror and go, what's the story on the carbon. What's the story. What's the story with the cement? What's the story with the method for construction? what's gonna happen to that carbon? Is it actually encapsulated? Is it gonna be leached? You know, All of devil in the detail. That's, that's what we need to really get our head around right now to answer this robustly.

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

we have some landmark projects. Literally changed the way, how communities or even countries work. Like I think about Euro tunnel project between UK and, and Europe. That's, that's a transformational project that, that completely changed not only the, the transport situation, but the, the whole economy around it. If you think about the biggest tunnels in Alps, it. It's not about shortening travel by 15 minutes. It's the, alternative is few hundred kilometers long detours through mountains. if you think about this, uh, Primitive civilizations early humans, for one case being on one side of Alps and the others being on the other side, that was like a few days of travel at best. And, and now they're just, one tunnel trip, uh, beyond. So that is truly transformational from a societal point of view, and to finish up with, with, , huge. City, shaping projects like Memorial tunnel comes into my mind. Sorry. Memorial is the, the fire counterpart, but it was all about putting intersection of, highways underneath Boston to recover the city for its, citizens. So you being in this community for quite long. you, did you observe this transformational role to societies, um, being done with these projects?

Arnold Dix:

Yeah, no, I think, and your, your cases are really good. I'm old enough and certainly ugly. To have been in Boston and actually saw those projects get rolled out. I stood there and watched the roads taken from above and put below. Um, I remember, I think it was the Gillette factory, , was there and they were busy going around the Gillette factory to again, to put stuff underneath and, seen something similar in Madrid. With the K 30 and Metro projects, they're just trans absolutely transformational for the cities and you're right. It, it it's like liberating the city for the people again, making, making the space human. And I think that. That type of transformational infrastructure really hits the nail. on some of these SDGs, you know, these 21st century SDGs like sustainable cities and communities, you know, item number 11 or, decent work and economic growth or, life on the land, all these sorts of things. I think they're wonderful, but I think we need to pause and, and be very clear that they really are delivering and we're not just. letting a government put up a project for the sake of putting up another underground project for me, this, this century now with all the troubles we have as humanity and the environment, it's we really need to stop and go. does it really stack up for the planet and our people right now, but yeah, I, what I've seen I'm I, I wouldn't be going to be president of the ITTA if I wasn't absolutely a hundred percent committed to the transformational capabilities of underground infrastructure. I mean, they're just. The things that they can do for people in planet are just without peer, but, but gotta do it right. And gotta make sure that , attention to detail. So yeah, no, I've seen it. It's true.

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

I like working on these projects. they have, nice cling to it. They, they they're massive they're as you said, intergenerational, they will be here for a hundred years. So, so, uh, if you do a good job there, it's well done job for, for many, many years now, in your Graz presentation, or in the paper that was counterpart to the presentation, you've mentioned. There unfortunately were projects that were canceled because of the sustainability goals. Like some Metro project in Germany that was signed off because of the sustainability policies, whatever that, that, that was so now we are entering some crazy realm in which a thing. You and me are convinced is sustainable can be like signed off because of, of the sustainable legal. And that, that worries me. That worries me. Are we doing a good job, talking about this dance, like you've said that we need to learn, we need to relearn the communication to be able to explain this, benefit. in the language that the stakeholders will understand. And unfortunately, our stakeholders in here are politicians, which is a difficult breed to talk. So yeah, let's go to talking to talk what's up with that. What, what

Arnold Dix:

Yeah. I th look that paper I wrote, cuz it, dawned on me when that German project got questioned and then subsequently too, there's been quite a lot of press over the recent, new openings in the UK, the new meso there and various, commentary saying, could this be the last. Of public transporters. We know it built in the UK. And if I hadn't thought about this before, when I'd read that headline, I probably would've fallen off my chair. How could it be this the last and when you. Sort of dig down into it. It seems that the world is desperate for small scale solutions. They're now talking about the 15 minute city people are becoming, I think perhaps post COVID even less inclined to what a, share a space with other people for transport. Whereas we might have been happy to jump on a Metro train and share it with. You know, 300 of our closest new best friends for 20 minutes, people are less inclined to wanna do that. They're more inclined to want to take a 15 minute from their home. Um, perhaps using one of these new forms of personalized public transport, one of these little battery scooters or, or whatever, not even push bike, even. I mean, I can't believe I'm so old that a push bike is now considered old fashioned. Like what. How did, how did a push bike become old fashioned? And how did walking become someone uncool? You have to be on one of these new high tech battery platform thingies, um, to propel you the 15 minutes to your point of origin. So if that's true, and if we're witnessing a social change and a social, change of expectation of what it means to be in a city, then. Some of the concepts and rationale for the things we build. Is questioned are, are being questioned. And so, and, and in order to, to rise to the occasion of those questions, we have to talk the talk cause the engineering talk, I don't, think's gonna do it anymore. Like we, I mean, gosh, we'd love to talk about the aquifers of the, you know, the ancient. Greeks or, you know, how wonderful the Romans were and look at their tunnels and, point to the, the tunnels in Paris and New York and, London and Sydney and, , Beijing and, Moscow. And, we wanna talk about all of that. But no one much wants to hear about that. Now, now, now they wanna talk about, well, um, how's this gonna impact my lifestyle? How how's this gonna impact my life balance? How, is this gonna impact? Life on the land. is it gonna have some, carbon footprint? What's the carbon footprint? How much of that am I responsible for? Surely there's a smaller solution to this couldn't we just put in a track or something and use my little micro scooter to zoom along to get my 15 minutes. well, all of this, I think we've really gotta get our head around it because. The world needs us more than ever more, more than ever to help with the challenges that we currently face. I mean, my goodness here, like here we are talking about stopping a Metro on the basis from sustainability option and within. What four or five hours flight. There's probably a billion people who still don't have fresh water and sanitation. So how about, you know, how do we put this into context? How do we, as citizens on the planet decide what. Not only how do we talk this global agenda for one people, one planet, climate crisis, all that. Not only how do we talk it, but how do we deliver, um, as engineers. and that's why I think this getting the narrative under our, under our skin ex accepting amongst engineers, we can talk the engineering talk, but let's get this new way of talking and thinking. as a language we really understand. So we can go into a meeting and say, Yes, it's gonna take a lot of carbon to build this particular underground piece of infrastructure, but you're gonna have it for 500 years, if not more. And it's gonna deliver reliable transportation solutions, even with climate change, even just with natural climate variability. So really get on the front foot, uh, with the language, um, and. And that has to be good, cuz it helps us understand what the politicians think are important. And it helps us understand what the communities are thinking are important and it might even help us understand what is important. Dare I say it.

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

Yeah. you've mentioned it's not only for communication. It's also to double check ourselves with, are we within these goals? If the goals are the goals now that that drive the projects that drive the. choice of the, of the project. We need to be sure that we're within them. Otherwise our projects will be cut off. And, my, my podcast is obviously targeted at fire safety engineers, not, the presidents of large companies that would love before a tunnel being built or, or, or people who would lobby. But, but still we, we, we have an important, task in here by providing safety and safeties. One of the biggest concerns in relation to tunnels especially in Europe, after, after Mount Blanc tunnels and other large tunnel fires that, opened the, a new chapter in the discussion on, on this fire safety, like fire safety become the number one thing being discussed. And, and I see it on the projects. I see it on the ground that . When we talk to the tunnel, fire safety is maybe number one topic in there. Like how do we do it? And here in the view of, of sustainability question is, are we delivering, uh, sustainable fire safety? Because you know, safety for safe of the, of being safer From my perspective. It's not always the best choice. How safe can you be? That that's a good question that we need to answer. How, how safe a tunnel needs to be. And, How much work in there. We, we should put I'm thinking about, for example, a difference between making, I know spending a lot of money on pacifier protection, or maybe making a tunnel a little bigger, because bigger is inherently safer in terms of fire. And, We don't take these decisions based on engineering assessment. We just, uh, speak the code and, and follow the, the rules. Maybe we should, think a more what's your

Arnold Dix:

You like, you know how to cut to the really sort of tough questions straight up. Yeah, point well, what you've just raised these issues around safe. What's safe enough also. What resources are required to deliver a particular level of safety. And then even your just casually in passing saying, well, we could just make it a little bigger and that would make it inherently more safe. Oh my, this is it. This is the whole narrative sustainability agenda right there in your sentences. And if can I just peel them back? I'll just peel some layers off the onion there. So I investigate disasters. You, you know that like, so, um, I went, uh, after Mo Blan, I went there. I gave some advice doesn't matter to who, but I. I was there. Um, investigated other disasters around the world. Some of them known some of them not known. And won't come as a surprise to you or listeners to know most of the disasters in tunnel. We don't talk about because they're kept secret, of course. and we know that underground humans are extremely vulnerable to being injured and kill. Because it's a confined space. let's just cut to the cut to the chase. Um, and we also have not just the confinement in terms of the toxic gases, but we've also got this confinement and re retransmission or reflection of radiation. So you've also got this, the underground oven effect down there as well. So you've sort of got the worst of all worlds and then. To add insult to injury, if it's not going so well, the damn thing collapses as well because of the structural integrity consequences. but I mean the good news being, if that happens, you're usually long and truly being killed anyway, because, you know, to actually hurt the structure, like that is very severe, but okay. So leaving, so, okay. We've got this underground space and it's inherently dangerous. One of the troubles. I think that we face as fire engineers is we get fixated on making the tunnel, it safe as safe as we can. We, and we look in the mirror and go, oh, could we do something better? Could we, could we add some more ventilation? Could we, change the, the monitoring systems? Could we, offer some better passive protection? Oh no. Could we act well, let's put some active fire suppression, um, are our human factors in order? Could we do better communications? Can we. Control the people entering. Can we better help them evacuate? Are the evacuation pathways well lived? Are they intuitive? Can they get out? Do the doors work, blah, blah, blah. So we get into this very interesting, discussion about how it is that we're gonna make it safe. And I think one of the risks that we run is we forget to stop and check the context of our tunnel. We become so. Passionate about our tunnel and looking after our tunnel, that we forget that the very people who use our tunnel have just coming off the street. How's the street out there. What's what's the lighting like out there for them. Is there snow on the road? has there been maintenance of the, of their, is the train okay. Has it been maintained? Like there's, there's a whole lot of other contextual things. So I think. As part of the new narrative as part of this requirement that we consider sustainable cities and communities and the responsible consumption, and production of everything from energy to equipment, to what have you. And as part of our commitment to good health and wellbeing, and as part of our commitment to, economic growth and these are. The sustainability development goals. I'm not just randomly picking them off. I mean, they're actually the goals. I think, I think we have to put things into context and be more willing to go safe enough. Not as safe as we could make it, but safe enough because if we don't society loses because we divert disproportionately effort into our tunnel and we may achieve a higher level of safety, but in doing so, we demonstrably reduce the level of safety for our people else. And that's for me, that's the tension that we have to be, be mindful of. And, you know, I'm, I'm passionate about my, tunnel safety and my fire safety in my tunnels. and the example that I'd give for me, the absolute classic example here is, do we let dangerous goods in our tunnel? Are we gonna, whether it's rail tunnels or road tunnels or whatever tunnels do we let dangerous goods in. And for those of us who are technical people who just love tunnels, go to bed at night, dreaming about tunnels. You know, we have postcards of tunnels on our walls, you know, we're like, oh gosh, on holidays, I'd love to go and see that new tunnel in, Germany. Let me go have a look. Oh, it looks gorgeous for those of us who are into our tunnels. We very easily start to worship them as if they're just a God in their own. Right. There's some special thing, but they're not. They're part of a, a rich tapestry of social investment and infrastructure there to serve our people and there to serve the environment and with dangerous goods. Often, I think the risk is that if you stop the dangerous goods from going through tunnels, which otherwise could have dangerous goods, what you're really doing is you are subjecting to harm large numbers of people who are along the alternative roots. And you're not even letting them know. You're not, we are not saying, oh, by the way, it's cuz we love tunnels. We love tunnels more than you. Um, we're gonna send these dangerous goods up past your, uh, your school and past your hospital and where you live and what have you, when in fact. If we were being more holistic, if we were taking that new narrative approach of what's best for us as a people, and what's best for us as a planet, we'd probably say, put 'em through the tunnel, cuz actually the chances of something going wrong in the tunnel or less, because actually it's very well managed down there. We know our And in the unlikely event that something does go wrong. Yes. There's gonna be a disaster in the tunnel and yes, there's gonna be people injured and worse, but there's gonna be a lot less than if it was up on the surface. I think that's tough. I think that's, this is part of the challenge that I'm sort of raising for us as professionals around the world. To take a breath, almost like smell the flowers, like stop, have a little, think about what we do and ask ourselves. What's better for us as a collective, like the community, generally the environment actually, how can we use our tunnels better? And how do we communicate? I hope that's not too weird an answer, but I'm quite passionate about it, cuz it's not what you expect. Even the size. You said the size of the tunnel, even if you increase the size of the diameter of a tunnel by just a little bit, the area cross sectional area of a tunnel varies as PI squared, just a small increase in the radius. Causes a massive increase in the amount of material that has to be excavated and the amount of concrete to build So it's a

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

Yeah.

Arnold Dix:

again, it's like where is engineers know that? Cuz we know the formulas, but. It's really easy to go. Oh, well just make it a bit bigger, cuz a bit bigger will be a bit safer. And then on the other hand, you go hang on, but a bit bigger. That'll increase our carbon footprint. Just say we increase, oh, I haven't got a calculator in front of me, but you know, a meter or two extra on the diameter of a tunnel might change the carbon footprint by a factor of 40%. it's just so huge because of that change to the, area of the, the, what has to be built, So fascinating in the detail.

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

Yeah. On a recent project, we've changed the cross section of the tunnel by just changing the ventilation from transversal to longitudinal. Like we've proven to the guys that you not only get a simpler system, easier to maintain less scenarios, because it just stands on not having to pick up which, uh, part of the tunnel you have to extract the gases from. So, so you, you cut off a, a whole bunch of, uh, systematic issues with, with it starting in the wrong place. You also. In some twisted way because you freed, uh, let's say two meters underneath your ceiling. During the evacuation phase, seven meter to tunnel gives you better evacuation chances than five meter tall tunnel with the transversal system, because it. It's it's insane how much it changes and, and here you would actually reduce the carbon footprint because suddenly you don't have to do mezzanine ceiling. And I, I don't mean we, we should turn all the tunnels from transversal to longitudinal because that's also not the case, but you have to be smart about it. And, Understand the consequences of the, technology use in the tunnel. Like we often go by the book. Okay. It's 3000 meters and one long. So it must be ventilated in this way. And I had this approach because as I said in a conference not long ago, please let engineers build the tunnels, not lawyers. Like you really don't want your lawyer to build your. Infrastructure and here you've, also mentioned you may run out of resources, like if we're talking about, things in civil engineering, like fire protection of walls, and you have hundreds of buildings around your city being built. It's not really that you're gonna run out of resources because each of them is funded independently and so on. But when you're talking about a major city, like Warsaw that I live in, we have a certain budget. The city has a certain budget. If a tunnel costs us one 10th of the budget, it's a really tough decision. Whether are we going to build the tunnel or are we going to make significant improvements in the healthcare and education in the city? it's this kind of choice. So in here spending the money reasonably is really. Important. And I would like to go back to your dangerous goods because I think we also due to the way how projects work. Like you design the tunnel, you build the tunnel, you deliver the tunnel, then it's the client's problem. I don't think we are involved enough. At the operational phase, like there is so much you can do with operational policies and good management. And I, I don't see really fire. I, I know plenty of fire engineers who design tunnels. I don't know a single one who would be managing the tunnel or who be involved in building operational polices. In their, agency, whichever that is that, that governs the tunnels. like the decision. Do we let dangerous goods into the tunnel? It doesn't have to be taken by me today for the next a hundred years. It can evolve. It can, adapt to the environment. it can change. And I, I think it's a beautiful opportunity for the sustainable goals. As you mentioned, we thes are intergenerational. We also have the legacy. of hundred kilometers of tunnels that were built by our grandparents. And, we can use them, we can up upgrade them. We can use them better. So I think our involvement should expand beyond the design stage or, or the delivery stage into the whole life cycle of the infrastructure.

Arnold Dix:

I'm your new best friend, if this is what you're thinking. Cause Yeah. absolutely. Um, I think fire engineers are like cloistered sort of religious people. If you could just let them out and experience the, the push and shove of day to day operations and the challenges of refurbishment and, , responding to the, the needs. industrial social needs as they change in time. I think your fire engineers have a much more exciting job. I know for me getting away from just the design, like you were talking about before, what does it say? According to the book? Oh, it's over 3000 meters, 3001. Therefore we've gotta do this. Well, we've gotta do that. That's that's the lowest. Fire engineering. That's it's fact it's not even really fire engineering. It's more like cooking cakes from a recipe book or something. It's just, that's just horrible. But, but like you say, if you can take advantage of smoke reservoirs within an underground cross section, which is what we were talking about before, but not using the term, this is fantastic because they just work. Like they work, the reservoir works. We've got, you know, we've got heat, we've got, buoyant smoke. We now have got, a window, an envelope of safety by virtue of the volume of the tunnel. You're a hundred percent. Right. And yet I only see that recognized in some of the international standards. it's something that is included in NFPA 5 0 2. I know. Cause I put it in. Well, I mean, I put up the proposal got voted up. Um, but, I personally O fellow fire engineers out there. I love passive fire engineering because it just works so voids. I love them. I really like it. If you can have, passive vent as well. Um, I was involved with a, a railway tunnel where we can't leave at the roof. It was a cut and cover intersection, so that the bigger the fire, the greater the tunnel naturally ventilated itself using its own buoyancy. Well, the buoyancy affected the combustion products and you could model it and shock horror, the bigger the fire, the better it worked And I think fire engineers want to be liberated from this code nonsense. It's a good start, but get into some really serious engineering, which, they can do when they get into the operational realm and the operators need us to do it as well. Otherwise our concepts don't make sense for the operators. They end up having some weird system with a set of manuals on how to use it. That don't make sense for them as an operator. They might make sense for us as we get all excited about, know, roughness coefficients or. buoyancy criteria or Reynolds numbers or something, but, but they want the practicality. So now I'm, I'm with you. Um, let's get the fire engineering into the practice of refurbishment. Optimizing. What more can we do with this tunnel? How could we do it? Better? Creativity, adjustment, all that sort of thing. The stuff we engineers love to do.

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

And it it's very rewarding. I'm building a relation with the managers of the tunnel in also that we have been involved in the design. We have been involved in, in delivering commissioning. Now, now I'm, trying to stay in touch with the people who manage the tunnel. And, we did some solutions there, like, we did a. Actually, I'm gonna tell you a full story. So we have realized that every bad thing that happens in the tunnel starts with a stopped vehicle. Like you cannot have a fire. If a vehicle has not stopped in the tunnel, cause it's not there anymore. You cannot have an accident in the tunnel. If the vehicles are still moving and driving out of the tunnel. So Every bad scenario in its Evans tree would have a vehicle has stopped at some point. So we've realized that, okay, the, the number one issue with delivering safety in our project is the vulnerability of the tunnel to the flows caused by the atmosphere, by the cars. When we start the ventilation, it takes few minutes to control them. in your simulation, you're very nice because in your time zero, you have flow equals zero, and then you study having your fantastic B and plume. But if you're in a tunnel, that's operational, you know, that the flow is not zero in there. very, very not zero. so we should go like, okay. So if the first thing happening is, is the vehicle that stops and we have cameras that can detect. Let's just start the ventilation, the moment, a vehicle stop there. Like not, not in, maybe not in fire mode, but let's start at least some sanitary mode ventilation that would stop the flow. and it would build, you know, this, background for, for good operation of the, of the fire mode, if it will be necessary. And if not, just turn it off and go on with your life. And we were very proud with this because it's very simple and robust solution in, in our mind, but. I talk with the operational guys on the tunnel and they say, yeah, but you know, our biggest problem now is to, to continuously monitor that because people stop there to pee in the tunnel, which I don't really understand as a concept, but they do. And, we. This triggers the system 10, 20 times a day. And, and, and it causes stress in them because every time they have to check it, what's happening. The citizens around are complaining because the fans are loud and stuff like that. And they're like, okay, well, it's not really helpful at this point. And. If I just been there in the design phase, I like, I would be happy with my, with my design, that in my head was brilliant. They would be happy because they just turn it off and they go on with their lives. And it's not annoying for them, but here I, have this sense, maybe not of a failure, but an opportunity to make it better, because from my perspective, what I wanted to achieve, Was to control the flow in the tunnel. So maybe I don't need the extraction. Maybe I just need the jet fans to operate and we'll achieve the same goal. So we're, we're gonna modify it now, but it was not me and my personal relation with the management guys in there, trying to talk with them, like, okay, how does it work for you? Is it, convenient for you to be used? Do you see problems with the system? And I was not really asking about this particular feature of the system, but general, do you see. User problems with the system that can be solved if it was not that, the design would not really work. so you need an engineer over the life because in, in the end, if you design a fancy system, but it, it is being turned off. It, it was a shitty system to start with,

Arnold Dix:

Look, it's really interesting. You've had that experience, what we are seeing around the world at the moment, and it might be this. So I'm really curious as to your answer, is lay eyes, breakdown, lanes, even big shoulders are increasingly used as places to stop and pee, have a picnic, join the, I don't know, making babies in the tunnel club or whatever it is you want to want to do. Yeah, make the nice picture. and we are seeing a trend towards not having shoulders anymore, not having breakdown bays, but relying more on the intelligent, detection systems for what's happening in the tunnel and turning every lane into an emergency lane. So if you've got a vehicle which stopped, then you stop all the, like you close that lane. And that seems to be reducing. What you've just described, which is the people starting to have a P all, all the rest of it. but it, it is an international phenomenon. This people not. Not recognizing that stopping in a tunnel is inherently incredibly dangerous because from a fire and life safety point of view, exactly. As you say, it's the stopped vehicle that's most likely to cause the problem, even if it's not on fire, because guess what, when it tries to merge now back out into the traffic, the probability of a collision occurring is now much greater as well. Uh, so. I think it's a great example that you raise and it's, it's highlighting. This is a real moving target and a moving target for the fire engineers who have to be partly transportation engineers who have to be partly human factor engineers who have to have a knowledge of system engineering as well. It's just really, um, mission critical stuff you're talking about.

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

And, now for the end, I'm gonna ask you like really, really

Arnold Dix:

You've already asked me tough questions. you're gonna ask more

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

No, this these were like warm up. These were easy questions. Like these were fun. This were, these were fun questions,

Arnold Dix:

I'll brace myself.

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

now. Yeah. So, I have this challenge. I work road tunnels are fun, but I'm also involved a lot in, in railway tunnels and in railway tunnels. We often deal with the assumption that it needs to the train needs to reach the place of safety, being a station or some dedicated space where we can, extract smoke, extract people, but we're still, we still have to design the systems, life safety systems, ventilation, and so on for the tunnel itself. when the train stops in in it. And I'm in a really. Tough position, how to communicate to my stakeholders, that if you allow trained to stop in the middle of a tunnel, and you have longitudinal system because you like Transvaal system in a relay railway would be crazy to be honest. the survival of the person is in, at large governed by chance. Like it, it depends where you are, where the fire is and where the ventilation is. If you're on the correct side, you're pretty good because you're gonna end up in a safe space. If you're on the wrong side, there's a good chance. You'll be overwhelmed with smoke. And I, I find these discussions really, really difficult. On the other end, I feel helpless. Like that's the physics. There is not much I can do about it. And, so far we get with like, Some sort of risk analysis that can demonstrate that the risk is low. You know, the probability of a failure of train is very low. The probability of a fire is even lower. So you, we are talking about inherently, very exotic given that that would happen and most likely will not in a thousand years, but still you're dealing with a politician for a politician. It's never okay to say, okay, well I'm okay with, with like, if the train stops, someone dies there. So how to. Communicate that, risk, how to work out as solutions with, with non-fire stakeholders when you are essentially given a, a problem that you cannot solve, or maybe no a solution I would love to

Arnold Dix:

The answer's 12. Of course that's a, it's a numerical answer of 12. No, I'm I'm um, You've again, this, this is a really tough question because it highlights a difference between the mental models that we use as scientists and engineers, to engineer, and to manage risk in terms of the activity of being on a train in an underground Metro system, and how we, we deal with it and the common narrative amongst people, which is well, when it happens. Is it safe? and you're like, well, hang on a minute. That's the wrong question. Cuz when it happens, it's not gonna happen because it doesn't happen because we know it doesn't happen because that's what we engineers know about. I don't think there's a simple answer, but it does get back to this a again, I think the sustainability. Argument where you, you have to accept that in everything we do, there's a residual level of risk, just, just by virtue of being. And, and I mean, gosh, as, as fire engineers, we know about it, it's called oxidation. like, everything is always a slight breath away from being oxidized and

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

If, if a oxidates slow it's not our problem. That's rusting, but if you oxidate very

Track 2:

our problem.

Arnold Dix:

Yeah. And, you know, and you say to someone say we're discussing tenability and you say, well, actually there's an oxidation reaction occurring in our lungs. And so long as that's occurring at about the right weight rate, we're fine. But if we get a bit on the wrong side of the curve, we asphyxiate and die. Right. It's just, it's a, it's an oxidation question. And also obviously a gas exchange question, but. I think we're in a really strong position with metros right now in the world. And the reason we're in a really strong position is right now, the numbers are clear. We've got a huge explosion, no pun intended in the number of metros operating around the world. There are billions of passenger journeys occurring all the time with them and they're not catching on fire and they're not stopping in and people aren't dying. Now. It doesn't mean that there won't be an event. Of course, there might be an event and mathematically with so many billions of journeys occurring, it might occur. But so long as we, as engineers and the allied professionals maintain our rigorous approach to all things underground rail. And that is from the reliability of the containery system, the signaling system, the, the rolling stock, the way we section. The power, the way we, timetable the way we build the rolling stock, the way we isolate our traction systems from the areas in, in the carriages where the people are so long as there's redundancy in the traction systems themselves. So long as the, the grades, the, you know, we, if we, the materials, auditing to confirm the, and to verify the performance of the, the wiring to, Confirm and verify the performance, the materials in the seating. So long as we've still got the vigilance over attending the railway system so long as people aren't allowed to take their barbecues and cook sausages on the trains while they're driving them. Like so long as that incredibly complicated total engineering system, which we do so well so long as we continue to do it. So well. And I don't see any reason why we shouldn't continue to do it so well then for me, the theoretical event of a fire on a disabled train, in a tunnel with longitudinal ventilation, where some of the passengers of that train are upstream of the ignition point, the combustion point, and therefore we'll be exposed to a non tenable environment and therefore will die. Because they've got no option that is such an infinitesimally, small risk and demonstrably, so that it's okay. And, and if it's not okay, then I think this is where having the narrative on board to talk about what it means. If that's not okay, then maybe we can't afford to build a Metro anymore,

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

I love your answer because it's more or less like do your best job at doing, looking into the new ventilation, reach the goals of the system. and, not over design it five times because you need to provide safety in, in the most accurate, uh, situation. And I agree. I also don't see a way out of this problem, of this conundrum, but to rely on all the other aspects of the, of the safety system, you've mentioned minus the grilling, I, I would not

Track 2:

Yeah. Yeah.

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

in the trade, , but, uh, but, but you're right. And, to understand that. You have to look from the top. You need to have a bird's eye view. You need to have a holistic view. That's nice. It's a nice and popular world lately, but it is. You need to, if you look only on providing safety through the lens of the, of the smoke control system, you are going to have a bad time because you are set to fail. There literally is no way for you to achieve the goals of your system and Provide ultimate safety, whatever that is only through systematic thinking and, and, spurs eye view on the problem, you can find an answer that it actually may be alright because the numbers are there. There is no systematic inherent, huge risk of that occurring.

Arnold Dix:

think the trick is remaining vigilant. so from fire engineering point of view, I I'd say, and this is where your point before about the fire engineers coming out to the world of, uh, operational regime as a fire engineer, get into the operational railway and be the voice. Of fire engineering and saying everybody, we do have to check the cables in our rolling stock to make sure they're still performing in accordance with their, say volatile, generation in the event of a fire. We still have to check that our upholstery is performing in the way that expected. We still should challenge, like do some fire tests in real rolling stock. Say we have a, you know, some old rolling stock that we are retiring. Volunteer it for some fire tests. Let's just double check and see if at year 20, it's still performing as it was at year one, or what have you, I think, and, and that's for me, that's what the fire engineers of today and moving forward have gotta do. They've gotta, almost be the, the challenge team reminding. The somewhat complacent organization, that there's a very high level of fire engineering sitting in behind this network that makes it so safe. And you shouldn't assume that nothing's changed, actually challenge it, check it, make sure everything is still performing as, as expected. I had a case where the cleaning fluids that were being used for upholstery. In some existing rolling actually decreased the fire performance of that material and basically converted fire hard and rolling stock into, into sort of fireworks. and so there's, you know, a case where the devils,

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

That's not something you would, you would to think about. It's not something you would

Arnold Dix:

No. No. And, that's where I think for your, for your listeners as fire engineers and careers, long term careers. Entwining themselves within operational regimes of infrastructure and continually stressing and rechecking, those design presumptions that they would've veil or the generations of fire engineers before them, would've plugged into the design concept and yeah. Challenge what's changed, one thing that I've noticed lately, I dunno about in your country, but I've seen it in a couple of countries. Is the, availability of high temperature, personal tortures, these little flame generating devices. So you like a, a person who wants to commit an antisocial act can actually get about a six or 700 degree flame just by a little thing that they're carrying in their pocket. There's a change. When we did our fire engineering, we were expecting a crib with some, a cellular fire with a newspaper, but, but you know, maybe the latest generation of antisocial, person's got a, a 600 sea torch sitting in his pocket or her pocket or its pocket. And they're gonna give a bit of a tickle to our rolling stock. How awesome is that in terms of as a fire engineer, moving forward with the challenges of this millennium?

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

that's the arsonist daily podcast though. That's

Arnold Dix:

Yeah.

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

the improvements in the, in the arson technology. Okay. Arnold, Arnold, I I've intended so much more for, for this interview, which means we need to book a part too. Which will dwell on Elon Musk Hyperloops and, um, maybe the line city concept of, of Saudi Arabia, which is based around the tunnel. So I, I would love to book parts too. Anyways. I would like to summarize, this to the listeners and, and just find the number one. Learning point, from, from today, for me, the learning point is, I, I think this operational thing would be the number one, like. If tunnels are intergenerational, if tunnels are going to outlive its designers, maybe it's their operators who should be more educated in, in fire safety and for fire safety engineers. There's a whole world to discover in the operational side where we can really shine. that's a bright lesson a very positive. so what would be your final

Arnold Dix:

No, I love it. I, I think you're right. And for the fire engineers, isn't that awesome. So what your. What you've just realized. And what we've explored is for the fire engine engineers, the design is just the beginning and in this intergenerational world, intergenerational infrastructure, the future challenges are, I mean, they're almost boundless and the fire engineers need to step in, in there and do their thing. I think it's wonderful. And a, a wonderful observation of yours.

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

Thanks. Well, thank thank you for, for relating me to that and what, what the journey it was from, from the sustainability to operational procedures. I told you we're gonna start with sustainability and no one knows where we'll end so, but we've reach, we've reached a nice end. Arnold, thank you so much, for coming into the show and I really. I really hope, uh, to see you here again and, at the end, congratulations for, for your significant achievements, the, the presidency of ITTA. That's, that's amazing, man, that that's, that's fantastic. The award from NFP for lifetime contributions to the standards. Thank, thank you so much for all you're doing today.

Arnold Dix:

Thank you and, and thank you for your love of all things, fire and life safety and, operational operational safety for these things we build. Fantastic. Thanks for having me. It's been awesome.

Wojciech Wegrzynski:

Thank you so much. And that's it. Thank you for listening to the part, one of the interview with Arnold, it was such a fun and, uh, such an interesting, thing to discover the opportunities lying within the operational regime of tunnels. I think it's a really great world of opportunities for fire engineers. And if we can start building relations with our investors, with our authorities, with tunnel management, with tunnel operators, it's opening a new world of career choices, even. So, so I think it's really worth pursuing that. And on top of that, the whole sustainability that was in the back end of this episode, it is important. It is very important to communicate. With this sustainability goals in mind, because otherwise you will not get listened to if you don't speak the same language as everyone does. Now, if we stick to our safety engineering language, we will not deliver safety. We'll not engineer safety because we'll not be given a chance. We need to learn to talk. The talk as Arnold said, And as I've mentioned in the intro to the episode, this is a two part episode, the next one's coming your way next week. And it's full of interesting new technologies and challenges that lie within them. So, that's something you don't want to miss. If you listen that long, this episode, I am a hundred percent sure you really want to listen the next one. And I'm looking forward to that as well. So see you here again next Wednesday. Cheers.