Bus fire: Best-practices to reduce risk

24 October 2014  •  Author(s): Fredrik Rosén and Joey Peoples from the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden

Bus Fire in a gas bus

Bus transportation is regarded as one of the safest modes of public transportation. Millions of passengers ride safely every day to and from work, school and for pleasure. The manufacturers and operators of buses have gone to great lengths to establish and maintain this safety record. However, a bus fire resulting from a collision or failure of a component puts lives at risk and can have an enormous impact on operational costs as well as customer confidence. Fredrik Rosén and Joey Peoples from the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden explore this area further with details of fire testing methods, increasing the awareness of fire safety, and how the Research Institute will continue to expand the envelope of knowledge in support of  us and coach fire safety through research, testing and certification.

Aircraft, trains and passenger ships all have well-established standards, regulations and certification processes to ensure the maintenance of high levels of safety as new materials and constructions are introduced. Buses on the other hand, mostly rely on the efforts of the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), operators and suppliers of bus fire systems to ensure safety with few strict regulations.

The safety of bus fires encompasses many aspects of design, operation, maintenance, evacuation and even first responders. All have a critical role in establishing effective standards and best-practices but are typically the responsibility of different stakeholders in the development process. Buses pose many unique challenges in regards to fire risks. The varying modes of operation (city, highway, long distance), unique vehicle types (school, transit, coach, demand response) and design changes to meet new emissions standards provide the context for fire safety; but each fire hazard, whether it is an engine compartment, battery compartment, wheel well or even a luggage compartment, poses unique challenges in the way of geometry, airflow, clutter, flame spread and evacuation.

The engine compartment which is one of the more well-known bus fire risks poses several challenges that effect the detection and suppression of fires. Ventilation, through fans and openings in the engine compartment, can produce high levels of airflow. This facilitates necessary cooling of the engine and compartment but can also increase the intensity and spread of flames which can have an enormous impact on fire detection times and suppression system effectiveness.

The rest of this content is restricted to logged-in subscribers. Login or register (it's free!) to view the full content.

Comments are closed.