Pierlucio Tinazzi

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Pierlucio Tinazzi
Born (1962-12-27)December 27, 1962
Died March 24, 1999(1999-03-24) (aged 36)
Mont Blanc
Occupation security guard
Known for rescuing survivors of the 1999 Mont Blanc tunnel fire

Pierlucio Tinazzi (27 December 1962 – 24 March 1999) was an Italian security guard who perished while rescuing survivors of the 1999 Mont Blanc tunnel fire. Part of his job involved riding back and forth through the tunnel on his motorcycle to keep traffic flowing, dispatching tow trucks and providing motorist assistance as needed. Tinazzi had turned down a promotion to work the control booth at the main Italian office because he preferred to ride over sitting in an office.

On the day of the accident Tinazzi had been taking a rest break, and was getting ready to make a run back through the tunnel when the fire alarms went off. He had a two-way radio system in his helmet that kept him in contact with the Italian tunnel office. As soon as he was notified of the developing emergency in the tunnel, he grabbed breathing equipment and rode his BMW K75 back into the tunnel. As he came across people trying to get out, he stopped and told them to stay low, stay close to the wall (where fresh air was pumped in by the ventilation ducts) and keep moving, stopping only to breathe at the ducts. He then decided to continue on into the hottest and most dangerous part of the fire despite the risk to his own personal safety. Most of the truckers close to the fire suffocated or were poisoned by the noxious gases within minutes (see smoke inhalation). Tinazzi searched for survivors among the wreckage and those who had already succumbed to the fire's ill effects. Tinazzi put the survivors on the back of his bike and shuttled back out the French side as fast as possible, bringing out victim after victim, then going back for the next one. On Tinazzi's fifth trip into the tunnel, he came across Maurice Lebras, a French truck driver who was unconscious but still alive. Too big and unwieldy to get onto the back of the bike unconscious, Tinazzi refused to abandon him. Instead he wrestled Lebras into fire refuge #20 and closed the door.

The original fire doors were rated to survive for two hours. Some had been upgraded in the 34 years since the tunnel was built to survive for four hours, but refuge #20 was not one of them. However, even the upgraded fire refuges could not withstand the intense heat of the tunnel fire, which raged for 56 hours. Tinazzi's motorcycle melted right into the pavement a few yards from refuge #20.

Tinazzi's heroism and bravery saved at least ten people from certain death. He was awarded a posthumous Medaglia d'Oro al Valore Civile, the highest civilian honour of Italy.


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