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Keeping Students Safe: How Coosa Panels Support School Bus Fire Safety

on Friday, 20 March 2020.

When it comes to something as serious as school bus fires, every detail matters. 

During a drill conducted by the NAPT Summit and NASDPTS Conference in 2018, a group of adults took one minute and 18 seconds to evacuate a school bus that had caught fire. When attendees elected to keep their eyes shut (to simulate walking through a smoky bus), they took two minutes and 27 seconds. If you replace these adult volunteers with children, add seat belts, backpacks, and real panic, you can easily see how mere seconds can make a huge difference in this scenario. 

This demonstration was led by Assistant Fire Chief Dan Manely, who also explained to attendees how much school bus fires have changed over the years. Natural materials such as wool and cotton used to be used in buses. Today they are constructed with synthetic materials which liquefy in heat and spread flammable material throughout the bus. Plywood used in the subfloor is the only combustible material that runs continuously from the engine compartment to the rear exit door, providing an uninterrupted path for quick fire spread. In such a confined space with limited exits, the material used in school buses (or any large vehicle for that matter) can be the difference between life and death. 

Plywood boards spread fire 8-10 times farther than a Coosa Composites panel in the same amount of time. Not to mention, a wood subfloor usually lasts only as long as the warranty on the bus, whereas our panels last much longer. Our FR (fire rated) panels meet the ASTM E84, Class A (1) fire rating—a rating developed by the construction industry based on flame and smoke spread. 

While safety is the biggest benefit you get from using Coosa panels in your transportation, other benefits include:

  • Twice the insulation value of wood—keep your students comfortable all year round with material that holds onto heat in the winter and cold in the summer.

  • Never molds—wood subfloors can get wet and hold onto water, eventually molding and rotting and needing replacement. Coosa panels will never rot. 

  • Reduced downstream costs—invest now in something not only safer, but that will save you money down the road. 

Interested in learning more about our panels? Visit our website today.