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Saturday, 13 June 2015 07:49

In a recent radio interview in Dubai, Mark Cavanaugh,  CEO and President of Firetrace International argued passionately that automatic fire extinguishing should be compulsory for all buses – particularly school buses – not just in Dubai and the other Emirates, but globally.  Acknowledging and applauding Dubai’s  School  Transport  Manual  that makes  such  systems  obligatory  on school  buses  built after 2008,  his  conviction  is  that  this  requirement  needs  to  be  extended  to  all  busses  to  safeguard passengers.

Mr Cavanaugh was on-air during a recent visit to the UAE and was invited to give an expert view and global perspective on school bus safety.   His Arizona-based  company is acknowledged  to be the world’s leading provider of bus and commercial vehicle fire protection systems and a supplier to leading bus manufactures around the world, including those based in the UAE.

During the prime-time  interview he told how, when it comes to installing fire suppression  in buses there is: “…nothing really standard universally  across the board.   People tend to do different things in different regions, different countries, even in different municipalities.”   He went on to express the view that without fire suppression achieving: “…truly compulsory mandatory legislation across the board…” the situation is likely to continue where some buses have fire suppression and some do not.

The frustration is, he said, that: “…retrofitting is where the fire suppression really comes in, because it has no impact on any of the features of the bus and does not (like many safety features) have to be built into the initial design  of the bus.”     In answer  to the inevitable  question  from the interviewer as to why all bus operators do not fit fire suppression, he replied that while a bus without fire  suppression  was  not  as safe  as a bus  equipped  with  a system  designed,  manufactured  and installed to the highest international standards, the operator’s costs, operating ratios and margins are lower.  Hence, Mr Cavanaugh’s view that making fire suppression compulsory is the only across-the- board solution.   He added: “…unless it is mandated, nine times out of ten operators won’t install the extra safety standards.”

Asked about his experience of fire suppression in school buses in the USA, Mr Cavanaugh lamented that there was: “…not one specific standard in the bus industry” and that he: “…spends a lot of time on Capitol Hill dealing with congressmen  and senators trying to educate them on what to do with these safety features in the transportation market” in his company’s quest to get fire suppression required in buses across the nation.

He told how the USA’s Department  of Transportation  is looking at demanding,  for example, rear back-up cameras on all passenger vehicles.  His view though is that while rear back-up cameras are an excellent safety feature, the number of bus fire deaths each year in the USA is far greater and so fire suppression  should be a higher priority for legislation.   He added: “We are looking at doing some  things  where  there  is  engine  and  dashboard  fire  suppression,  as  well  as  fuel  tank  fire suppression, which is another technology that we have.”

Mr Cavanaugh regretted that fire safety measures are so frequently accident-led.  He concluded: “A lot of the time when it comes to safety it is something that has to be mandated. Unfortunately it is when a horrible accident has happened or a number of horrible accidents have occurred.”

Last Updated on Saturday, 13 June 2015 07:53

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