D1/2001Y Bus Fires in Finland During 2001, shortened version
In the autumn of 2000 the Accident Investigation Board of Finland started the Bus Fire Project led by accident investigator Esko Lähteenmäki with Esko Värttiö, chief accident investigator, and accident investigator Reijo Mynttinen, all from the 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.
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.
A 'Bus Fire Investigation' form 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 2001 a total of 38 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 they have not have come to the investigators' attention.
The Incident Report for fires in 2000 (D 1/2000 Y) was published by the investigation board in the spring of 2001. The Incident Report was sent to all bus company owners with 10 or more vehicles. Furthermore, the Incident Report can be read on the home pages of the Accident Investigation Board of Finland. Interest in the publication has been shown by bus owners, bus organisations and the press.
During the project the investigators had participated in some training sessions in the area 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 vehicle magazines.
It was decided to continue the Bus Fire Project during the year 2001. This way a comparison with the fires of the year 2000 was obtained. The Bus Fire Project for the year 2000 started only at the beginning of September so the information about fire incidents prior to this month is incomplete and there may be incidents which had not been reported to the investigators. In 2000 33 incidents were studied and 38 incidents in 2001. From these numbers one can conclude that the number of the cases has diminished as prior to the beginning of the project the annual number of fires reported by the insurance companies was about 50. However, a follow-up period that lasts for two years is too short to reach conclusions about whether the recommendations made have improved the situation or whether the reduction in fires is due to normal statistical variation.
This investigation report has been submitted for review to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the rescue department in the Ministry of the Interior, the Finnish Vehicle Administration, and the Finnish Motor Insurers' Centre. In addition, a draft was sent for unofficial statement to bus company owners and to other interest groups (10 in total).
The project group thanks those individuals, bus company owners and other interest groups who contributed to fire incident information during 2001. The project group has come to the conclusion that during these last two years cooperation with the bus owners has worked well, and the attitude towards the fire safety has improved and a responsible operation has developed. Many flaws that have been observed in the investigation have been corrected but yet the same type-specific causes as in the year 2000 have been repeated.
In this shortened investigation report Section 1 Incidents and investigations by incident have been expressed in table format. Furthermore, the section containing Statements has been omitted.