Tuesdays bus fire not an isolated incident: Transperth

By: Jason Whittaker


The Transperth bus which caught fire in Yokine on Tuesday was not the first Mercedes Benz vehicle to catch alight. Transperth

The Transperth bus which caught fire in Yokine on Tuesday was not the first Mercedes Benz vehicle to catch alight.

Transperth says Tuesday’s fire is the fourth to affect its bus fleet in recent years, with incidents occurring in September 2007 in Fremantle, July 2008 in Riverside Drive near the Esplanade Busport, and July 2009 in Balga.

All four buses were the latest model gas bus – the Mercedes Benz OC500 LE model – commissioned in 2003.

Transperth says in each case there has been an oil leak originating from different parts of the engine.

"In each case, after a lengthy investigation Mercedes said they had identified the problem and subsequently installed modifications on all the affected buses," Transperth says in a statement.

"The third such ‘fix’ is due to take place in January."

After the 2008 incident, Transperth instituted a regime of having the buses mechanically checked every 48-hours. Consideration is being given to increasing the frequency of the checks.

In the wake of the 2008 fire, investigations were started into appropriate fire suppression systems.

One such system was installed on a 12-month trial basis in November 2008. The trial was extended earlier this year to take into account the third round of engine modifications Mercedes has planned for next month, Transperth says.

Transperth will conduct a full investigation into the latest bus fire, which is due to start later this week.

The investigation will be headed by an independent local mechanical engineer, experienced in fire investigations.

The vehicle will also be inspected by a senior representative of the vehicle’s manufacturer.

Mercedes’ Melbourne-based General Manager for commercial vehicles, service and parts, is flying to Perth for a meeting with senior Transperth management today.

It is expected that Mercedes will also send technical experts from Melbourne to help with the investigation.

MAN INJURED
In a separate incident, a man was injured during an attempt to move the burnt-out shell of the bus.

The man, who works for one of Transperth bus contractors, was part of a crew moving the bus within the company’s Morley depot.

He was taken to hospital and treated for broken ribs and his condition is not thought to be serious.

A separate investigation will be conducted into the accident.

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