The heavy vehicle fires conference held 15 August at Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney energised the heavy vehicle community to tackle truck fires according to Australian Road Transport Suppliers Association (ARTSA) Executive Member, Dr Peter Hart.
“Around one hundred attendees from truck and trailer manufacturers and suppliers, transport operators, regulators, insurers, enforcement personnel and forensic investigators discussed the causes and prevention methods including improved maintenance and technology such as fire suppression equipment as well as wheel and tyre monitoring devices,” said Dr Hart.
Fire suppression equipment was demonstrated at the conference to highlight how engine fires can be controlled within seconds.
The fire suppression equipment is fitted to all Australian buses but unfortunately few truck operators have followed their example according to ARTSA.
Dr Hart said a grant provided to ARTSA by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) will enable ARTSA to produce a truck fires safety package.
ARTSA intends to work cooperatively with other industry groups, including the National Bulk Tanker Association (NBTA), to produce a useful guide.
“Most of the causes of fires are known,” said Dr Hart. “The majority of fires are preventable with better designs and inspections. The heavy-vehicle road transport industry needs agreed actions to reduce fire risks. We know the solutions to these preventable fires and we just need to find ways to achieve take up by the heavy vehicle community.”
Some of the maintenance issues discussed at the conference included adding electrical cable inspections to the A-service check, replacing old electrical cables, using rubber clamps rather than steel spined clamps and keeping cables at least 200mm from the exhaust.
Also discussed was the issue of sub-standard safety critical replacement parts being purchased by some transport operators.
“For example, the low price of an after-market brake booster does not justify taking an increased risk of an internal spring failure that could cause the brakes to drag and the tyre to catch fire,” said Dr Hart.
ARTSA is developing guidance materials under a NHVR safety grant. It will give advice to purchasers of replacement parts, but also develop wider recommendations on improving road safety outcomes as part of an ARTSA Institute initiative.