Draft norms for fire safety in buses

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on April 27, 2021

Most injuries in bus fires are due to heat and smoke in the passenger compartment irrespective of origin of the fire

Proposes use of sensors, automatic alarms and water sprinklers

Road Transport and Highways Ministry has brought out a draft notification on stringent fire safety measures in buses using sensors for faster detection, automatic alarms and water sprinkler . The Ministry has invited comments from stakeholders within a month.

Presently fire detection, alarm and suppression systems are notified for fires originating from the engine compartment. Provisions regarding protection of occupants involve providing additional evacuation time to the occupants. Quantity of water in the bus ranges from 55 litres to 210 litres depending on seating capacity (20 to 80 people). Number of sprinkler nozzles vary from 9 to 35 depending on the size of bus.

Under the guidance of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) and project proposal based on experiments carried out by DRDO (Defence Research Development Organisation), a panel under Automotive Industry Standards Committee has prepared this amendment to existing standards, according to the notification.

Occupant safety

A significant majority of fatal and non-fatal injuries to passengers in bus fires on Indian roads are due to heat and smoke in passenger compartment irrespective of origin of the fire. Injuries to passengers can be prevented if the heat and smoke in occupant compartment is controlled and thus providing them an evacuation window, said the Ministry in its notification.

“A fire risk analysis shall be conducted prior to the installation in order to determine the location of fire detectors and alarm system. Potential fire hazards within the occupant compartment shall be identified such that the fire detectors shall be positioned to appropriately cover the fire hazard. The system shall also be ensured to work properly regardless of the vehicle’s altitude, road conditions,” added the release.

Also, the fire alarm system and the fire protection system shall be operational irrespective of whether engine is running or not and the vehicle's altitude. This is to ensure availability in the case of external fire which is expected to be the most likely cause of transfer of heat and smoke to occupant compartment.

Published on April 27, 2021

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