Bus fires under fire

Bus fires under fire

The United States’ Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), working with the centre of transportation and logistics  at the National Transportation System Center (Volpe) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, updated and expanded on the FMCSA’s 2009 Motorcoach Fire Safety Analysis. They found that 77 percent of motor-coach fires and 68 percent of school-bus fires were related to engine, running-gear or wheel-area functions.

The study also recommended ways to prevent or reduce the severity of bus fires. Recommendations included better reporting and data capture, strategising for long-term maintenance, enhanced safety procedures, training for staff and design changes. Further, it was recommended that certain inspection standards, such as identifying critical inspection items associated with fire risk, increased frequency of inspections and better training for inspectors.

According to an article by Fredrik Rosen, marketing manager at RISE Safety and Transport, the recommendations of the Volpe report are in line with Sweden’s Statens Provningsanstalt Technical Research Institute (SP) P-certification for vehicle manufacturers, operators and service centres. Certification will depend on whether SP’s requirements are met in regards to a systems ability to extinguish different types of fire.

“It is not the actual vehicle itself that will obtain a P-certificate but the manufacturer, as proof of having certified their fire risk-mitigation process,” Rosen writes. The certification will be awarded based on experience, knowledge, fire investigations and other industry professional services. 

In July last year United Nations Economic Comission for Europe published an amendment to Regulation 107, which included a fire-testing procedure for engine fire suppression systems. With the amendment, it is now possible to issue approval certificates.

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