Huczek, J. and Stephenson, R., "Test Protocols for Motorcoach Fire Safety," SAE Int. J. Passeng. Cars - Mech. Syst. 8(2):556-564, 2015, doi:10.4271/2015-01-1381.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded a contract to Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) to conduct research and testing in the interest of motorcoach fire safety. The goal of this program was to develop and validate procedures and metrics to evaluate current and future detection, suppression, and exterior fire-hardening technologies that prevent or delay fire penetration into the passenger compartment of a motorcoach - in order to increase passenger evacuation time.The program was initiated with a literature review and characterization of the thermal environment of motorcoach fires and survey of engine compartments, firewalls, and wheel wells of motorcoaches currently in North American service. These characterizations assisted in the development of test methods and identification of the metrics for analysis.Test fixtures were designed and fabricated to simulate a representative engine compartment and wheel well. Fire scenarios were developed for each fixture, the current detection, suppression, and fire-hardening technologies were reviewed and a sample set selected to validate the test procedures developed during this program. Based on the results of testing and feedback from stakeholders, test methods and metrics were developed for evaluating wheel well warning systems, engine compartment detection and suppression systems, and fire-hardening systems. Detailed program conclusions and recommendations for areas of interest for further research and testing are also discussed.