The bus driver saw smoke coming from the engine compartment as the bus, carrying two students and a monitor, headed to Valley Ranch Elementary shortly before 7 a.m. on Oct. 17, Coppell ISD spokeswoman Amanda Simpson told NBC News.
The driver, an employee of Durham Schools Services, pulled to the side of the road and got all the passengers off the bus before calling 911.
The flames quickly spread throughout the bus.
The Irving Fire Department responded to the scene and extinguished the fire.
“My hats are off to the bus driver and monitor for doing an outstanding job of getting the students not only to a safe area, but completely off the roadway,” Irving Fire Department Assistant Chief J. Taylor told NBC.
A @Coppellisd bus caught fire this morning in Irving. Two students, driver and monitor are safe, and no injuries are reported. Parents and school (@VRE_STARS) have been notified. Cause is unknown at this time. Will update with more information as available. #CISDinformed
— Coppell ISD (@Coppellisd) October 17, 2018
Coppell ISD Superintendent Brad Hunt echoed Chief Taylor’s words in a post on the ISD website:
“I want to personally commend the bus driver and bus monitor from our school bus partner, Durham School Services, for following safety protocol and ensuring that the students were safe.
“We are fortunate to have such strong drivers and safety monitors. I also want to thank the Irving Fire Department for their quick response to the scene, and for getting the fire out quickly and ensuring all surrounding the incident were safe.”
According to the ISD statement, all Durham School Services bus drivers receive 60 hours of training before they can drive a school bus.
This includes 20 hours of safety training and 20 hours of driving training, as well as a 20 hour safety course from the Texas Education Agency.
Drivers are also required to take eight hours of continuing education training from TEA every three years.
Drivers also receive annual safety training and attend monthly safety meetings.
this guy under it pic.twitter.com/aASFIXnqpU
— Juan Vazquez (@JuanMFVazquez) October 17, 2018
Safety Inspections, Safety Precautions
Durham School Services, which operates the ISD bus fleet, is sending a team of specialized inspectors to examine the bus. ISD officials are also making an investigation.
There are three other buses in the ISD fleet which are identical to the bus which caught fire. Those three buses, of the same make and mode, are now being subject to great scrutiny.
“This is the first incident of this type that has happened with Durham School Services taking over that we’ve had, other than maintenance issues,” ISD spokeswoman Amanda Simpson said.
According to Durham School Services, the bus in question passed a safety inspection before the start of the school season, on Aug. 3, and was given regular 120-day maintenance inspections.
On top of that, the buses get a comprehensive biannual inspection.
Amanda Simpson said that Durham School Services will also conduct extra safety inspections on other buses in the fleet and that the inspections would not interfere with the normal transport of students to and from school each day.
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