View Full Version : Bus Fires

18th Sep 2016, 12:48
Came across this: "Bus that exploded in flames on the Sydney Harbour Bridge was the 36th to catch fire THIS YEAR - but still the transport minister says the fleet is 'safe'. This bus burned to the waterline, so to speak.

Can't think of the last time one of ours caught on fire. 36 in nine months does seem a bit excessive.
London did have a slew of fires but that has seemed to moderate lately.

18th Sep 2016, 13:04
How many buses do they have?

18th Sep 2016, 13:12
2,100 in "Sydney Buses" (State Transit) service (Sydney and Newcastle).
Formerly known as "The New South Wales Department of Government Transport", and I hope they finally fired the bloke who came up with that name.

18th Sep 2016, 14:10
They will keep buying those mongrel European buses with their nightmare of convoluted electrics and electronics!
We've lost a fair few buses to fire, here on the other side of Oz, too.

However, in this day and age of excessive amounts of electronics in everything that runs on the road, I have also seen a corresponding increase in recent years of burnt trucks and cars - that can nearly always be traced back to chafed or pinched wires in huge wiring harnesses.
Just once in a while, it can be a burst fuel hose that causes the fire, but not often.
Very occasionally, an oil hose that splits under pressure will squirt oil onto a hot exhaust manifold or turbo - and WHOOMF! - it's time to bale out!

18th Sep 2016, 15:45
Formerly known as "The New South Wales Department of Government Transport", and I hope they finally fired the bloke who came up with that name.
I kinda like Sidney Transport Dept, but I think the acronym is already taken.

18th Sep 2016, 16:03
What seems unreasonable to me is that most bus engine compartment fires result in total loss of the saloon. There are rules about flame-retardant upholstery for domestic furniture - so why not for bus seats?

18th Sep 2016, 16:20
Sydney Omnibus Department?

18th Sep 2016, 17:18
How many of those had a Samsung Note 7 on board? :)

18th Sep 2016, 20:42
Sydney Heavy Integrated Transportation Service.

18th Sep 2016, 20:48
Yeah, but let's face it, if your bus catches fire in Sydney you're unlikely to get EATEN!!!

Was up in Churchill, Manitoba in Nov 2012 watching the Polar Bears when our 4WD bus buggy ground to a halt. Driver threw open the internal engine hatches and smoke followed by sheets of flame billowed up into the cabin! :eek: :eek: :eek:

Quite a choice: burn to death or present oneself as an hors d'oeuve to Ursus Maritimus???? Hmmmm... let me think that one over.

Fortunately another buggy appeared after frantic radio calls and we were able to walk across a ladder bridge to its rear deck.

I was curious to see if anyone fell off! :E :E :E

18th Sep 2016, 22:12

A bus carrying up to 25 School pupils was completely destroyed after fire broke out during a school run.

Read more at: Bus completely destroyed by fire - Bridlington Free Press (http://www.bridlingtonfreepress.co.uk/news/bus-completely-destroyed-by-fire-1-8123295)

19th Sep 2016, 13:35
We've had 3 or 4 here in SEQld in the last year or so too.

19th Sep 2016, 14:11
A lot of random ComBUStion going on.

19th Sep 2016, 17:22
A bus carrying up to 25 School pupils was completely destroyed after fire broke out during a school run.

Read more at: Bus completely destroyed by fire - Bridlington Free Press (http://www.bridlingtonfreepress.co.uk/news/bus-completely-destroyed-by-fire-1-8123295)

We have very regular, thorough checks. Every four weeks, our buses are inspected. They have a complete, full annual inspection.

Mr Shipp confirmed the bus last successful annual inspection took place four to five weeks ago, at the end of August.

Every 4 weeks they have an annual? I smell a rat...

John Hill
20th Sep 2016, 06:21
Bus fire in an unlit tunnel over 100kms from nearest emergency services!!!
'Miracle' escape from bus blaze - National - NZ Herald News (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=3002487)

21st Sep 2016, 03:20
DirtyProp - I'll see your 25 school pupils and raise you 10 to 35 ;)

"Investigators suspect a mechanical fault was to blame and have praised the quick-thinking bus driver for saving all 35 of his young passengers.

Flames poured from the back of the vehicle where just minutes earlier children had been making their way to school."


21st Sep 2016, 03:24
And more - the sub-editor must have loved writing this headline: GOLD COAST BUS FIRE RE-IGNITES CONCERNS

"This morning’s Volvo bus fire at Assisi College on the Gold Coast is the third bus fire this month in South-East Queensland.

The Transport Workers’ Union want to know how long the Queensland Transport Minister Scott Emerson and his Translink Authority will continue to let these buses on the road.

‘Over the past 12 months there have been numerous bus fires across Queensland, including three in the past month, and the one thing they seem to have in common is that they are Volvo buses,’ TWU Assistant State Secretary Scott Connolly said."

The report is undated, but I think it was from earlier this year

21st Sep 2016, 07:24
A proper investigation should be carried out into the cause of these fires.
The first action thereafter should be to inspect similar vehicles to determine whether the fires could be avoided.
Fire suppression equipment should be installed if no distinct cause (and avoidance action) can be implemented.
Although most bus fires that occur can be evacuated without injury, what if the passengers were trapped?

As I have stated elsewhere, there is no excuse for allowing these fires to occur.

21st Sep 2016, 09:55
G-CPTN - We have had around 15 serious bus fires here in Perth, over about 7 or 8 years- and they were mostly on the modified CNG buses.
These buses are fitted with fire suppression systems. Unfortunately, the FS systems failed to perform satisfactorily.

The local Public Transport Authority became that unhappy, they actually commenced a lawsuit against Mercedes Benz, for failing to meet the CNG buses stated design, longevity, and safety requirements.
However, MB "came to the party" with modifications to the CNG bus fleet (around 500 buses, out of 1305 in total), that cost them AU$1.4M. The PTA then dropped the lawsuit.

These modifications involved significantly upgraded fire suppression system, different engine coolant, changes to coolant hoses, reworked (engine compartment) insulation, and an added ability for drivers to isolate battery and gas controls from the drivers compartment.

However, at least one more bus has caught fire since the modifications were carried out, indicating continued failure of even the "improved" FS system.

Perth, Western Australia - entire fleet of CNG buses to be pulled from perth roads following series of fires - August 2014 (http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/entire-fleet-of-gas-buses-to-be-pulled-from-perth-roads-following-series-of-fires/news-story/55689b46ec2403cc099dc044fd6b2f47)

Perth, Western Australia - $1.4M fire fixes for Perths gas buses - October 2013 (http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/fire-fixes-for-perths-gas-buses/story-fnhocxo3-1226732379483)

Perth, Western Australia - bus catches fire at esplanade busport in Perth - July 2015 (http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/bus-catches-fire-at-esplanade-busport-in-perth/news-story/083bdeb64f00fcf92938892af95b780b)

To date, all passengers have been able to evacuate all of the burning buses with no problems, and no-one was hurt.
However, the potential for injury or death is certainly there, particularly if passengers became trapped in any manner.

I believe the major reasons for the fires are possibly reduced levels of maintenance checking, along with vastly-increased complexity of the current designs.
The amount of electrics and electronics on all current vehicles is ever-increasing, leading to ever-larger wiring harnesses, ever more sensors, ever more electrically-assisted accessories.
Add in complex emission control systems today, where EGR is pretty much standard, leading to an increased number of "exhaust-temperature" components mounted on the engine - plus increased numbers of hoses and piping routing gases and fumes and coolant around the engine, and the cooling system, and the stage is set for dangerous failures that very rapidly lead to fires.

In addition, the number of engine belts is constantly being reduced, with a single serpentine belt, routed around numerous pulleys and idlers, becoming common.
These serpentine belts are under great stress, and if an idler pulley bearing collapses, a fire can result from a belt spinning around a failed idler pulley.

I have also found a lot of idler pulleys today, are being fabricated from nylon and other plastics, leading to even more fire potential.
I've actually discovered a nylon idler pulley where the bearing seized, and the belt had worn away one-third of the nylon section of the pulley!

If I'm working on an engine and I find a failed idler pulley - and its made from nylon or other plastic - I seek out an aftermarket metal replacement.
Also, because the buses are all rear-engined, any fire that starts can develop into a major conflagration before it's noticed, due to the remote location of the engine from the drivers compartment.

21st Sep 2016, 11:59
Don't they use fuses anymore? Even my '67 Mini has them, even if it's only 2 of them....!

21st Sep 2016, 12:55
Although Oz does have a number of modern buses operating the routes, the majority of them appear to be of an old design - even though they may have been recently manufactured. Every time I come back from Europe I am dismayed at the sh!t heaps that pass as buses down here in Oz.

Perhaps these old designs, regardless how new they are, are just not up to the stresses caused by modern service demands.

21st Sep 2016, 13:40
Looking into it a bit further, Volvo in particular seem to be having a bad time currently. India and even Finland are reporting fire problems with them. There is a report from India of a fire in a Volvo where 45 people on board died, mainly due to no rear exit. Granted, the transportation authority has the say on body configurations.

A bus is far from new technology and as time goes on they are supposed to get better and better at what they are designed to do. Is engine technology getting ahead of fire safety? This level of unreliability would never be tolerated in aviation. The percentage of Sydney fires and reluctance to do a comprehensive review into the causes in light of them is particularly worrying.

21st Sep 2016, 19:32
Today in EDI

Driver rescues passengers from bus fire in Edinburgh - BBC News (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-37430798)

22nd Sep 2016, 05:12
Don't they use fuses anymore? Even my '67 Mini has them, even if it's only 2 of them....!I believe most of the electrics are well protected with fuses and circuit breakers, but there are many sections that aren't. Items such as battery and starter cables don't have fuses, they rely on regular securing of the cable and thick insulation for protection. If these cables are chafed, serious arcing results.

Then there's the problem of split coolant hoses spraying coolant onto hot manifolds and turbochargers. The water evaporates, leaving propylene glycol, which catches fire relatively easily.

Many engines and engine bays involve the poor design of external hoses carrying engine or hydraulic oil under pressure. If a hose carrying oil under pressure splits and sprays an oil spray onto a hot manifold or turbo, you have an instant, serious-sized fire.

Note, that a fine spray, as compared to a solid stream, is often the difference between a moderately-flammable liquid catching fire, and not catching fire.

Interesting (auto) fire and arson study in the link below - where tests were carried out, verifying that nearly all the liquids in a road vehicle are capable of initiating a fire under the right circumstances.

Obviously, high ambient temperatures, as regularly found in Australia and many other similar climatic zones around the world, are a major contributor to engine-bay fires.

Add in the changes to todays engine designs, for reduced emissions - which changes mean todays engines are regularly running at 90C to 110C operating temperatures, with the accordingly-increased engine bay and exhaust manifold and turbo temperatures - and you have an increased risk of engine bay fires.

What auto fluids burn? (http://garrett-engineers.com/2005/10/what-auto-fluids-burn/)

Cattletruck, all of the Perth buses are very recent models and designs, they are generally disposed of after about 8-10 years, and replaced regularly with new buses of the latest design.
Mercedes and Volvo are the two major bus suppliers to the Perth bus fleet, with a few Scanias thrown in. The city "CAT" buses ("Central Area Transit") are exclusively Scania.
The city "CAT" buses are confined to the inner-city blocks, and do some very tough, continuous stop-start operations, but no Scanias have caught fire.

22nd Sep 2016, 12:57
You got me thinking this morning about those serpentine belts and plastic idler pulleys onetrack. A serpentine belt alone does more work than a bunch of dedicated belts, sure technologically they may be stronger, but more work means more heat build up, and those plastic pulleys are much better heat insulators than the metal ones. End result...you guessed it.

Note: the only pulley bearing that failed on my car which uses a serpentine belt was one fitted to a pulley made out of plastic.