FIRE ON TRAINS – Introduction:

The fire incidences in trains are among the most serious disasters to human lives and the property of Indian Railways. Thus the prevention of train fire has become a serious concern for Railways.A train fire is different from a fire in other places in the manner in which it breaks out, grows and spreads, and in the method of fighting it, as well as the damages it causes.

Fire on a running train is more dangerous than a static one because the fanning effect may spread the fire very quickly to other coaches and in panic, the passengers might jump out of running train as it had happened in past train accidents.

Fire, especially in uncontrolled state, is a source of very rapid destruction and this gets compounded when loss of human life is involved. Hence, taking all possible steps to prevent a fire from breaking out in coaches, and if it breaks out, to prevent it from spreading and causing further damage are being given great importance.

The following points summaries the characteristics of a train fire, which need special consideration when deciding upon counter-measures:
  • A train consists of long narrow vehicles with limited exits coupled with each other.
  • High traveling speeds prevent quick escape and assist the rapid spread of fire.
  • The wide range of track conditions, including confined sections such as bridges, tunnels, ghats, etc., make it difficult for passengers to get off the vehicle easily in times of emergency.
  • Restriction in the movement of passengers and fast spread of fire aggravates the situation.
  • A large number of passengers traveling on trains are attended to by a small team of the train crew.
  • Even a delay of few initial seconds due to the inadequacy of direct communication with the crew can be devastating.
  • Even smoke emission in a confined place may lead to panic.