D1/2000Y Bus Fires in Finland During 2000, shortened version
On 13.2.1999 there was a fire in a coach on the Kulju motorway near Tampere, considered by the accident investigation act as a major incident. The Accident Investigation Board of Finland set up an official investigation to explain the reasons for the fire. After that the Accident Investigation Board began to pay attention to bus fires that frequently recurred. A concern for passenger safety was foremost because buses transport more than 60% of all passengers who use public transport in Finland. During 1999 about 246 million passengers travelled in buses.
In the autumn of 2000 the Accident Investigation Board started the Bus Fire Project led by accident investigator Esko Lähteenmäki with Esko Värttiö, chief accident investigator, and accident investigator Reijo Mynttinen, all from Accident Investigation Board, as members of the team. Statistics of, and reasons for fires in buses were determined as project objectives. In the investigation report a summary of the fires, the causes of them, and passenger safety issues had to be presented, and safety recommendations made.
Once the project had begun the regional emergency services were asked to inform the person on duty at the Accident Investigation Board of any bus fires immediately. In addition insurance inspectors were asked to inform investigators of fire incidents.
The project group prepared a 'Bus Fire Investigation' form, which was sent in connection with the incidents to the bus driver involved and bus company owners for completion. From the form information about the vehicle and the fire incident, needed for the statistics, was obtained.
During 2000 a total of 33 fires in buses came to the investigators' attention. It is reasonable to assume that there were even more cases involving minor damage during the research period but because investigations only actively began in the autumn some of the incidents earlier in the year will not have come to the investigators' attention.
During the project the investigators had participated in some training sessions in the topic of coach services and had become familiar with the activity of the bus company owners' repair workshop. These presented opportunities for informing about the purpose and operation of the project. At the same time the investigators obtained valuable information from technical experts in the field of coach services. The project has also been written about in the Bus Federation's newsletter.
This investigation report has been submitted for review to the Finnish Vehicle Administration Centre, the traffic safety unit and the environment unit of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the rescue department in the Ministry of the Interior, and the Finnish Motor Insurers' Centre. In addition, a draft was sent for unofficial statement to bus company owners and to other interest groups (11 in total).
The Bus Fire Project will continue throughout 2001, so this means that the period of investigation will cover whole year.