NEW DELHI: In the next one and a half year all new school buses and inter-city buses will need to have fire detection and alarm systems and also the system to suppress the fire so that passengers get enough time to get out of the bus, in case of a fire.
The road transport ministry has issued a draft notification to amend the Automotive Industry Standards (AIS) based on experiments carried out by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for introduction of protection of occupants from fire.
Currently, fire detection, alarm and suppression systems are notified for fires originating from the engine compartment. “Provisions regarding protection of occupants from fire under this amendment are aimed at proving an additional evacuation time to the occupants and thus will further enhance the safety in fire incidents in buses,” the draft notification said.
It has specified that the system has to be such that any fire can be detected irrespective of whether the engine is on or off. An official said, if the heat can be controlled in a bus 3-4 minutes, the passenger can safely get out of a bus. In intra-city or local buses, it’s easy to deboard since these have open windows and passengers are awake.
Officials said this system can also be installed in existing buses.
Majority of fatal and non-fatal injuries to passengers in bus fire accidents in India are due to heat and smoke in the passenger compartment irrespective of origin of fire in the vehicle. “The fatal and non-fatal injuries to passengers in bus fire accidents on Indian roads can be prevented, if the heat and smoke in the occupant compartment is controlled irrespective of origin of fire in the vehicle and thus providing an evacuation window to the occupants,” the government document said.
According to the proposal, the buses will have water tanks and this water can be sprayed like mist at high pressure through nozzles which will be fixed inside the bus at different locations. Sources said the buses will have thermal censors and the system to control heat can be activated either manually or automatically.