You’re in a minibus when something terrible happens: you have an accident or there’s a vehicle defect and your vehicle catches fire. Whether you’re a passenger or a driver, the situation is not one you’d ever want to experience. Every year, though, there are 65,200 road vehicle fires, with 860 in buses, coaches and minibuses. Of these fires, only 7% are due to crashes or collisions, with 71% being due to vehicle defects. Vehicle fires are, of course, relatively unlikely when you look at the number of successful trips that happen ever year, but they do happen and community transport operators need to know how to deal with them if they do.
That’s why we encourage people to get involved with our ‘5 Steps to Safety’ training which teaches practical skills to avoid vehicle fires and learn what to do in order to safely evacuate passengers if a fire does break out. It covers how to recognise the common causes of fire, how to reduce the risk of vehicle fires, when and how to use a fire extinguisher, and how to safely evacuate a vehicle using the five steps to safety.
As well as detailed information on the causes of vehicle fires and how to prevent them, the training includes a simulation in which participants have to evacuate a minibus full of passengers whilst being filled with smoke. They get a sense of the difficulty of performing a quick and full evacuation of a minibus during a fire, and the increased sense of stress that it brings.
Training took place at the Community Transport Association’s Manchester office recently in which CTA staff, and others, role-played passengers who had to be evacuated. The whole process gave the drivers hands on experience of how to deal with a vehicle fire and how to safely and quickly evacuate passengers under pressure. Participants have said that they “learned to plan for possible eventualities and to stay calm and reassure passengers”; it was a “very interesting and worthwhile…excellent, practical course” where they “especially liked experiencing the simulated smoke inside the minibus during the evacuation which made it very lifelike.”
There are a number of trainers across the UK who carry out the 5 Steps to Safety programme; you can find their details here.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Community Transport Association offers an insurance scheme for its members for motor, minibus, property, liability and other requirements. You can find more information at www.cta-insurance.co.uk
We also recommend that everyone who offers transport using minibuses undertake Safe and Legal and Minibus Management training. The training is vital for any school, care home, church or community organisation which provides transport using their own or hired in minibuses. The training is designed to help you learn how to operate your vehicle safely, understand the definition of ‘hire and reward’, learn more about section 19 permits and understand who can legally drive a minibus for different types of operation as well as how to keep up-to-date and stay legal.
We have a number of these courses coming up this year, so if you’re interested take a look here. We’d love you to come along!