I agree with Alun Thomas that very little has been learnt from recent fire incidents within tunnels (NCE 16 November). I also agree with the news item that there does need to be a shake up of fire safety issues within underground structures.
The idea of harmonising regulations across the EU is not a new one - the recent revision to Health & Safety law has been lead by EU Directives. However, I feel that we need to address more than legal requirements.
As a fire safety professional working within a multidiscipline consultancy, it is apparent laws and regulations do not work unless those who interpret them have an understanding of the philosophy behind them. It is my belief that what is really required is a greater communication between the different disciplines, which make up the construction industry.
Most of my colleagues are shocked by the events in Austria and would love to understand how to reduce the risk. The means to achieve a safer environment are not rocket science. If the engineers responsible for the tunnel had realised safety is not just a design feature, but something which needs to be constantly assessed and updated, the loss of life would have been greatly reduced.
Alison Phillips, senior fire safety engineering consultant, EC Harris, Windsor House, Windsor Lane, Cardiff CF10 3DE.