Kanawha County hosts bus fire suppression demo to keep students safe

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – A new technology on display in Charleston is designed to keep students safe on their way to and from school.

It’s the latest in a series of demonstrations on ways to make school buses safer.

According to national statistics, at least one bus fire happens every day. To prevent those fires from happening, companies like Kidde Technologies, Inc., has come up with a new automatic fire suppression system.

It uses dry powder to put out fires that could occur in the engine area or battery box. 

 “We have a detector that’s mounted to the hood of the bus. If it sees a temperature that exceeds 460F, it will detect it. It will automatically deploy the fire suppression system,” Matthew Clapp, Account Manager at Kidde Technologies, Inc. said.

In 2019, the National Transportation Safety Board started recommending all new school buses have a fire suppression system.  This comes after a December 2017 fatal fire in Iowa that killed a 74-year-old bus driver and a 16-year-old student. 

“Student safety is key. I just can’t imagine having a bus out there without having a fire suppression system,” Brett Farley, Kanawha County Schools Director of Transportation said.

Farley says he’s in favor of the new product. 

“I like the way the compression came out. I like the cleanup. I like the way the nozzles were attached. I like the fact that it has a better volume than some of the systems we’ve seen,” Farley said.

In 2019, the NTSB also recommended all school buses currently in use to be retrofitted. The county plans to make a decision on the fire suppression system by late summer next year when it orders new buses.

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