Tuesday morning, transportation officials watched a fire suppression system demonstration in Kanawha County that could be beneficial in school bus fires.
The demonstration was put on by FireGator, a company based in South Carolina. The system is known as the FireGator Suppression System for school bus engine fire protection using Stat-X aerosol generators. It uses a patented “halo” which goes over the engine and releases the condensed aerosol fire suppression agent when the linear heat detection (LHD) wire reaches 280 degrees Fahrenheit.
The aerosol agent is designed to stop the fire from progressing and slowly extinguishes it. Kanawha County transportation officials say these systems are vital for evacuation purposes. It is mainly used on school buses.
“A bus can become fully involved within two minutes after the fire starts. That doesn’t leave a lot of time, especially if you have upwards of 60 to 64 students on the bus,” said Wade Carnell, supervisor of transportation in the Sissonville area for Kanawha County Schools. “Not to mention the effect that panic will interfere with.”
Fire suppression systems are already installed in every bus in Kanawha County. However, officials say they will take the system for a test run and move on from there.
“It’s my understanding (that) we’re always looking for advancements, if you will, and this is just another tool in our arsenal that we may be able to use going forward,” Wade said.
For now, other transportation officials will be emphasizing practice and preparedness when it comes to evacuating buses.
“We still have to do our fire emergency drills, and they’re very important,” said Peggy Stone, a transportation supervisor for the Sissonville area. “Kids need to know what to do; they don’t need to panic”.