The Johnstone’s Hill tunnels are two parallel tunnels and part of the Northern Motorway between Albany and Puhoi. Each tunnel is 345m long and 12m wide with two cross tunnels to provide escape routes if there is an accident in the tunnel.

On 19 October, with the northbound tunnel closed for repaving, Fire and Emergency personnel took the opportunity to walk through the tunnel and see all the safety features and fire systems first-hand. This visit enabled the team to learn more about the tunnel such as fire apparatus placement and parking, and how to hook up to the fire hydrants, therefore enabling the creation of tactical plans for our own personnel.

National Operations Advisor, Jon Harris, said the team want to support response personnel as much as possible and the visit will allow the team to update the tactical plan so that crews have accurate information when enroute to an incident in the tunnel.

Not only was the tunnel walk-through beneficial for our people, it also highlighted the benefits of working closely with Waka Kotahi | NZTA. “It’s been a great partnership with Waka Kotahi. They’ve been very willing to work with us, so that we can safely respond to any incidents in the Johnstone’s Hill tunnels” says Jon.

Features and systems identified in the tunnel included:

  • Linear heat detectors, which detect heat anywhere in the tunnel for targeted automatic release of Deluge;
  • Thermal cameras and Automatic Vehicle Incident Detection (AVID) cameras to detect and alert tunnel operators (ATOC) to stopped vehicles or pedestrians or large debris;
  • Tunnel drainage holding tank and isolation valves to contain spills (especially Hydrocarbon) from entering surrounding environments; and
  • Uninterrupted Power Supply System (UPS) – which lasts approximately six hours in the event that the dual power supply system fails.

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