New RFP Open for Project to Review Emergency Egress and Rescue Challenges in Rail Tunnels

Next week will mark the three-year anniversary of one of the most significant subway fires in New York City history. At about 3 a.m. on March 27, 2020, a subway train heading north out of Manhattan caught fire as it rolled into the Central Park North–110th Street Station. The blaze killed one train operator and injured 16 other people, while dozens of others had to evacuate the subway.

NFPA 130, Standard for Fixed Guideway Transit and Passenger Rail Systems, specifies fire protection and life safety requirements for underground, surface, and elevated fixed guideway transit and passenger rail systems. It also specifies maximum distances for how far passengers would have to travel to egress in the event of an evacuation.

But the current language in the standard lacks technical substantiation for distances to point of safety for both 800-ft (244-m) spacing between cross passages and 2500-ft (762-m) spacing between exits and the surface. Additionally, the minimum emergency walkway widths specified in NFPA 130 are based on outdated research that does not accurately reflect current anthropometric data and limits evacuation to single file.

To help the standard reflect the most recent technical data, the Fire Protection Research Foundation is now seeking proposals from project contractors to carry out a new project to establish a comprehensive understanding of the impact of changing criteria for both exit distances and walkway width on the probability of successful egress in rail tunnels, as well as the impact of such changes on emergency response capabilities.

Researchers will review emergency egress and rescue challenges in rail tunnels through a literature review, case study analysis, evacuation modeling, comparative analysis, and the development of a research plan.

More information about the open request for proposals (RFP) seeking a contractor for “Review of Emergency Egress and Rescue Challenges in Rail Tunnels” is available here or on the Foundation’s website. Instructions on how to respond are included in the RFP.

Please submit your proposal to Jacqueline Wilmot by April 7 at 5 p.m. ET.

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Jacqueline R. Wilmot, P.E.
Research Project Manager, Fire Protection Research Foundation, the research affiliate of NFPA

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