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ire, smoke and other products of combustion in general are a huge hazard to occupants on a school bus. Te school bus industry has taken great strides to reduce these hazards, and is committed to further safety precautions. As a firefighter, I can appreciate the

prevention mentality that will reduce the risk to our children who ride school buses. None of us want to see the school bus fires of yesterday repeated tomorrow, and we certainly don’t want to see any injuries. New technology, testing procedures and legislative

processes are frequently slow in developing. However, fire develops fast and without prejudice. Tere seems to be some discrepancy in what standards are endorsed and by whom, but the goal of pupil safety is common. When I was first tasked with looking into the flam-

mability of seats and engine compartment suppression systems, I dropped in on Huron (Ohio) City Schools bus mechanic Steve Zeck. Zeck smiles every time I walk in the door because my requests are usually random, but generally destructive — Can I have a bus to cut up? Can I chisel off some rivets? Can I break some doors/windows/seats? Or how about some seats to burn? Regardless of my curiosity to learn more about prepar-

ing for school bus emergencies, he is always adding some good perspective.

SEAT FLAMMABILITY I scored a couple of out-of-service seat covers (one Kevlar

and one Prevail) and a piece of foam that is used as the cushion. At an undisclosed burn location, my assistant and I conducted our own unscientific tests just to get a feel for the products. We put a pile of crumpled paper on each and lit the fire (winds were about 15 mph). Te paper burned out quickly on both seat covers and only left scorched marks (the covers did not contribute to fire growth). On the other hand, the foam pad caught fire and the fire grew (see photo 1, 2 and 3). Next, I took a look at what standards these seats needed to meet to be on school buses. Motor vehicles, including school buses, are required to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 302 — Flammability of Interior Materials. Tese flammability standards are also included in the National School Transportation Specifications and Pro- cedures publication ratified every five years by the National Congress on School Transportation. Te next meeting is scheduled for May 2015. Te passenger seats must meet the School Bus Seat

Upholstery Fire Block Test, which specifies that the time from ignition to flameout be eight minutes or less; that the flame not spread to any other seat; and that weight loss shall not exceed 10 percent of the pre-test weight of

50 School Transportation News November 2013

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