Transport buses in India will soon come equipped with safety systems such as fire detectors, extinguishers and alarms. From April 1, all buses plying on Indian roads with a seating capacity of more than 23 passengers (in addition to the driver) will have inbuilt fire safety systems. This will be applicable for all school buses as well; effective from April 2020.
The new norm was formulated in the wake of several fire-related instances that have claimed many lives in the past. The new Fire Detection, Alarm & Suppression System (FDSS), as the name suggests, will be able to detect fire hazards in the engine compartment using sensors that can receive inputs when temperatures are higher than usual or the rate of rise in temperature is abnormal.
The system then notifies the driver with visual and audible warnings or alarms. The audible warnings can be deactivated manually in order to avoid unnecessary panic among passengers. The driver will still receive a visual notification in the bus’s instrument console or a separate control panel. “The fire extinguishing cylinders fitted in buses are linked to the engine through a pipe. as soon as the fire is detected, the liquid from the cylinder is released and sprayed quickly to douse the fire,” shared a concerned official. “This will be implemented without any failure. We had issued draft norms earlier and the revised one after consultation with stakeholders have been issued,” added another official.
The officials have already discussed with major automotive manufacturers and bus body builders to integrate the safety system in their future products. Rather than just mandating such a system on existing buses, it is best that the respective brands take the initiative to safely equip the systems with little to zero chances of failure. FDSS already comes pre-equipped in certain premium buses operating under both government and private entities. The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) started installing FDSS in their Volvo and Scania line-up back in April 2018. These buses have engines at the rear and if a potential fire hazard occurs, the drivers may not come to know about it before it is too late. FDSS will prevent such a situation. Conventional FDSS safety feature can extinguish a fire or nullify the possibility of fire in less than six seconds. Short circuits and fuel leakage are the common causes of such fire hazards.