Bus and coach fire prevention

It’s not everyday we hear of coaches or buses on fire, but they do occur. And when they do, they not only pose many dangers both to the passengers and driver, but also to others on the road, and pedestrians. For bus operators, it’s crucial to understand what can lead to transport fires, so that vehicle fire protection can be put into place.


From practising safe fuel storage to vehicle fire suppression systems, we provide a run-down of steps and regulations to prevent fires on coaches, buses, and other transport vehicles, in order to keep lives and livelihoods safe.


What are the main causes of bus and coach fire emergencies? 

To prevent a fire, vehicle hazards should be identified and addressed accordingly. This means knowing which flammable materials are present, where outbreaks can occur, and how they happen, can all help reduce the risk of vehicles catching fire.


  • Mechanical failures. Problems with the engine, fuel systems, exhausts, or other mechanical components can cause parts to overheat which may lead to a bus or coach fire For example, if the exhaust gets so hot that sparks fly, it can ignite flammable materials. Which leads us to…
  • Flammable materials. Whether inside or in close proximity to the vehicle, flammable liquids such as fuel, lubricants, oils, and cargo onboard can increase the risk of a bus or coach fire.
  • External factors. From accidents and collisions to arson and extreme environmental conditions, there are a number of risks outside the vehicle itself that can cause a fire to occur.
  • Electric vehicle fire Electrical systems can overheat, caused by faulty wiring or other problems, including charging issues. If an electric vehicle fire reaches the battery compartment, it can cause a thermal runway in the battery cell - accelerating the fire rapidly.


What should you do to reduce the chances of your vehicle catching fire? 


When it comes to preventing fire, buses require a unique set of safety procedures and vehicle fire protection. It is the legal duty of a bus operator, coach provider, or other responsible person(s) to identify the hazards listed above and prevent a fire from occurring in the first place.


  • Develop a vehicle fire protection plan

Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, the responsible person(s) has a legal duty to take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of fires breaking out on public transport, ensuring staff and passengers can safely escape the vehicle in the event of an emergency. This includes conducting a fire risk assessment, noting any flammable materials, potential ignition sources, and people at risk. It should then look at whether precautions are already in place - such as escape doors, fire extinguishment, or vehicle fire protection systems - and if they’re adequate. If not, an action plan is needed to ensure the vehicle, and transport company, is compliant. This includes training drivers on fire safety measures, including how to spot signs of a fire and what to do should an emergency occur.

  • Regular vehicle inspections and maintenance

Regular vehicle inspections can identify and rectify bus and coach fire risks before they occur in the first place. This includes checking the engine or fuel system for leaks or cracks, storing flammable fuels safely onboard, and looking at other mechanical components, addressing any issues with qualified technicians. The same should be done to prevent electric vehicle fires, checking batteries and electrical components regularly. At Ardent, our goal is to help you keep your vehicles, staff, and passengers safe, with personalised and proactive system servicing as well as 24/7 support.


  • Provide buses and coaches with fire safety equipment

British standards for buses and coaches state that all passenger carrying vehicles (PCVs) are required by law to carry the appropriate fire extinguishers. Regardless of how many passengers it carries, or whether it’s a single- or double-decker bus, fire extinguishers should be accessible and safe to use on Class A and B fires (those with combustible materials and flammable liquids), such as AFFF foam fire extinguishers.


  • Protect transport with vehicle fire protection systems

Under UNECE Regulation 107, all new buses and coaches must be fitted with an automatic fire suppression system. This regulation aims to increase safety for passengers, drivers, and other road users, as bus fires starting in the engine compartment can quickly grow out of control. Coaches and buses on fire can go unnoticed until the fire is already out of control if automatic detection is not fitted to the engine compartment. A vehicle fire suppression system can both detect and control a fire in its early stages. Our Ardent vehicle fire suppression systems are fitted to the engine compartment and other hazard areas to detect the fire and self-actuate quickly, alerting the driver so they can pull the vehicle over and evacuate safely. Using dry chemical suppression (the most effective agent for diesel, electric, hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, our systems meet all UNECE R107 requirements for engine bay automatic fire suppression and have passed strict fire testing protocols from the Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) which have been adopted from the SP Method 4912 tests.


Stay up to date with bus and coach fire safety  

If a bus or coach fire breaks out, it’s high profile for a reason. To protect people, vehicles, and businesses, having compliant vehicle fire protection can ensure the chances of a blaze starting in the first place. Explore our fire suppression systems for more detailed information on their superior performance, or get in touch to find the perfect solution for your vehicle.