Since the engineering company was established in 1986, Andreas Brandner has covered all types of projects in civil engineering and specifically geotechnics, cable car construction and structural engineering. Photos: BRANDNER
A cool head on hot topics
In February this year, Austrian Standards published the new fire safety standard for cable cars. DI Andreas Brandner has taken a closer look at the legal extension and explains the new features of the fire safety standard.
Cable cars bring several thousand people per hour up the mountain, almost without interruption. Nevertheless, the headlines generally remain free of incidents or disruptions to the high-performance systems.
Furthermore, studies have repeatedly examined this subject and their results attest the pioneering role of the systems. If safety per person trans- ported is considered rather than distance, cable cars are actually the leaders of the field as the safest means of transport overall. So that this remains the case, the safety requirements for cable cars are repeatedly evaluated and adapted when necessary. As such, the European “safety requirements for cable cars for passenger transport – fire prevention and firefighting” standard has been compiled in the last four years and was published in Austria on 15.02.2019.
As part of compilation of the fire prevention report, the new standard includes initial clarification of whether or not a “fire operating mode” is necessary. “Draglifts may be able to omit this operating mode, as it is possible to alight safely at any time during the trip. For a winter sports cable car on a glacier, it may also be unnecessary to include such an operating mode,” Andreas Brandner from Ingenieurbüro BRANDER explains.
The fire prevention report serves to en-able operators and manufacturers to consider together what can be done to guarantee the maximum level of safety.
A central role created as part of the new standard concerns fire running. Modern cable car controls are generally equipped for “fire running” and have a simple activation mode, which releases the systems required for fire running and moreover ensures that the system can be operated at the maximum speed technically possible. The journey of the cable car can therefore continue and everyone can be brought safely to the station.
As the important cable connections may be exposed to intense heat in the case of a fire, this mode also ensures that the heat does not become concentrated on one point and consequently break the cable. “However, running in case of fire affords not only advantages but also risks, as activation overrides other safety systems, such as those which freeze the systems for safety reasons if the wind is too strong.
A number of agents initially spoke out against this, fearing misuse of the fire running function,” Brandner states. However, with appropriate automatic storage of the fire running activation in a message store, this concern was resolved.
“In the case of urban systems and especially tunnel tracks that run through a covered area, it will not be possible to forego ‘fire operating mode’. Furthermore, preventive fire protection has long received great attention in Austria and the risk of a full fire starting is therefore kept low,” Andreas Brandner is sure.