Industry to maintain bus safety

National Advisory Group on Bus Fires hopes to have guidelines implemented by mid-year

Industry to maintain bus safety
Dean Moule of Volvo Buses Australia

The National Advisory Group on Bus Fires is working hard to implement bus fire mitigation guidelines by the middle of this year to maintain Australia’s strong safety record.

The new Advisory will provide a set of agreed standards for government and commercial bus operators, government agencies, bus and coach manufacturers, and bus body builders in relation to bus fire mitigation measures.

Vehicle fire risks can be related to engines and tyres, but the new Advisory will focus on preventing the higher risks that usually involve engine fires.

Volvo Buses Australia Engineering & Bodybuild Manager Dean Moule is an industry representative to the Advisory.

Moule says the new guidelines will create a shared level of understanding that will greatly strengthen the bus industry’s commitment to passenger safety.

"We are very focused on prevention," he says.

"For engine-based fires, it’s a case of identifying high-risk areas and ensuring they are better protected for everyone’s safety."

The Advisory is working to standardise different levels of fire protection systems on buses.

Passive fire protection systems include better insulation of the engine bay to the passenger compartment or better vehicle design to increase the time that it takes for a fire to travel through the vehicle.

Active fire protection systems include systems that can be manually activated by the driver to extinguish a fire in the engine bay and increase the time for passenger evacuation.

Moule says the Advisory has also identified the need to provide more standardised training for bus drivers in the event of a fire, and the need for early warning sensing systems to alert bus drivers to a fire much earlier.

"To increase the safety for passengers, drivers and other road users, we still have a considerable amount of work to get through in the next three or four months."

No bus fire fatalities have occurred in Australia but one major incident would quickly change the industry’s strong safety record.

Moule expects the Advisory’s guidelines to be released mid-2014.

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