Q: Hello Christian, thank you for accepting this interview. Our first question is, who are you and what does a fire fighter involved in the HyTunnel-CS project do?

I am head of the development- and tactic team of the International Fire Academy. The International Fire Academy is a public fire academy specialised in tunnel incidents. It runs unique training facilities and is visited from fire fighters from all over Europe.

The development- and tactic team develops procedures and methodical principles for tunnel incident operations.

We have been invited to join the HyTunnel-CS project to bring in our expertise in the deployment field of underground transport systems. On the other hand, the International Fire Academy is also in demand in the development and conveyance of specialised tactics and techniques for fire fighting.

Q: How might the actions of first responders in tunnels and confined spaces be influenced by hydrogen-powered vehicles?

From the fire service’s point of view, hydrogen has two unpleasant properties: Firstly, the flames of burning hydrogen are very hot and barely visible to the naked eye. Secondly, unburned escaping hydrogen forms explosive gas-air mixtures which can be ignited by even very weak sparks.

The general procedure has been known for a long time. Thermal imaging cameras detect the flames. Or they can also be made visible by holding flammable objects, such as a broom, in the suspected flame area. To avoid explosions, hydrogen fires, like all gas fires, are burned off in a controlled manner while the environment is shielded.

More difficult to answer is the question of how exactly to proceed if, for example, hydrogen escapes unburned from a vehicle tank in an underground car park. Here the representatives of the International Fire Academy are in close contact with the scientists of the participating universities and research institutes.

Together they cover all relevant areas of science and technology in an interdisciplinary manner. Together they are trying to break down the latest findings from experiments and simulations into standard rules of engagement that are suitable for the fire services

Q: What are your expectations for the next workshop? What topics will be discussed?

In the last month we discussed a lot of thinkable procedures. Now we would like to discuss these ideas, which are only ideas yet, with colleagues and scientists to get a clearer picture on how to prepare for and react to incidents with hydrogen fuelled vehicles.

The first day focuses on knowledge transfer regarding fire fighting in underground transportation systems in general. One important question will be how fire fighters can get the information that hydrogen is involved. On the second day we will go through different incident scenarios in tunnels and confined spaces like underground car parks.

Q: Which kind of tools will be used in the workshop?

We will have presentations and tabletop exercises whereby the tabletop will be the screens of the participants. This will be an experiment. I hope it works. The most important tool – of course – will be discussion.

Q: Will you recommend our readers to participate in the next online workshop?

We will not present the magic formula to all challenges associated with hydrogen fuelled vehicles.  The workshop will answer many questions and will raise new questions at the same time. Thus, I recommend this workshop for those who are interested to take part in this challenging and thrilling and instructive development process.

Who is Christian?

Christian Brauner is a Fire Chief, fire-fighter for 46 years and has an MsC in Integrated Communication from the Danube University in Krems (Austria), a Diploma of Advanced Studies in Conflict Analysis and Management from the University of Basel (Switzerland) and enjoys cooking and carpentry.



International workshop of first responders



The workshop will take place on 5-6 October 2020 as an online virtual meeting

 Preliminary agenda

The International workshop will address several topics, including but not limited to the analysis of current procedures of fire services for incidents with hydrogen in underground systems. In this context, the following questions will be included into discussion, to gain consistent understanding of possibilities and limitations of intervention:

  • What are the specific conditions for intervention in underground transportation systems?
  • How do first responder get all relevant information needed?
  • What are the possible actions taken by fire-fighters?
  • Why is ventilation a very important factor?
  • Who is responsible for which measures of response?
  • What behavior by persons involved must be taken into consideration?
  • Which issues need further research?

The possible tactics and techniques for intervention will be presented and discussed, e.g. the benefits and risks of ventilation in tunnels, car parks, etc. The focus will be on how the outcomes of HyTunnel-CS research can aid the development and optimization of the fire services intervention strategies, tactics, procedures, technical equipment, training, etc. Scenarios for tactic sessions have been developed by Alexander Dyck (DLR), Gerhard Schöpf (LFT) and Christian Brauner (IFA). 

Workshop goals

Day 1

–       Overview of projects HyTunnel-CS and HyResponder;

–       Share knowledge on interventions in underground transport systems in general.

Day 2


–       Interactive discussion of appropriate tactics for response to Hy-incidents in tunnels and similar confined spaces;

–       Exchange of views on education and training for Hy-Response in tunnels and similar confined spaces;

–       Identify questions that need further scientific clarification;

–       Synchronization with partners activities.

Workshop agenda

All times are GMT (London Time)


Day 1




Welcome to the workshop

Goals, procedures and organization of the workshop; rules for video conference

U. Kummer, IFA






HyTunnel-CS project

– Introduction to FCH 2 JU HyTunnel-CS project

– Pre-normative research contribution to hydrogen accident response


D. Makarov, UU

Project partner


Underground transport and confined spaces: building science

Presentations and discussion: types of design and ventilation systems; varieties and dimensions

U. Kummer, IFA






Underground transport and confined spaces: hazards

Presentation and discussion: extremely large fire compartments > long emergency routes > great depth of penetration; smoke, heat, structural collapse; hazard of explosion

C. Brauner, IFA



Underground transport and confined spaces: tactics

Presentation and discussion: extinguish to rescue and the two-sided attack; reconnaissance – firefighting – search and rescue; tactical ventilation.

C. Pessel, IFA


Framework for education

Different countries, different tasks, different expectations on curricula, intensity and time budgets for education and training

C. Brauner, IFA






Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN)

Presentation and discussion: to respond you need to know what you are dealing with. The VIN could tell you all you need to know.

T. Van Esbroek, SPFI


HyResponder project

– Overview and current status of FCH 2 JU HyResponder project

– Virtual reality for training

– HyResponder remote events


S. Brennan, UU

L. Lecomte, ENSOSP
E. Maranne, CRISE


Final discussion and closure of Day 1

D. Makarov, UU





Day 2


Introduction: rules for tabletop exercises

C. Brauner,

C. Pessel, IFA



Tunnel scenarios

One tube, single tube, different types of ventilation





Car park scenarios

Single car garage; parking garage, underground parking garage


Example for a political recommendation for law makers and regulatory authorities

G. Schöpf, LFT






Concluding discussion

Define consent and dissent as well as questions to be answered

C. Brauner, IFA


HyTunnel-CS project next steps

Recommendations to assist intervention strategies and tactics

D. Makarov, UU