• Wiring issues contributed to CMS bus fires


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Wiring components in the engine compartment are what contributed to two bus fires, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials said Tuesday.

    The district released new information on those fires and bus inspections.


    Many parents were upset when the first bus caught fire in October in east Charlotte.

    A second bus caught fire four weeks later in Steele Creek.

    The fires forced CMS officials to inspect every bus in the fleet, especially Freightliner FS-65s with Caterpillar engines.

    Inspectors were "unable to positively identify a specific cause but did feel that the area around the starter could be an area of concern," the report indicated.

    Now, officials are making further steps to keep students safe.

    The state's Department of Public Instruction issued a transportation services memo to all districts, which asked them to look at the wiring compartments in all buses.

    Buses will be inspected even if they weren't Freightliner FS-65s with Caterpillar engines like the ones that caught fire in Charlotte.

    CMS workers also looked for any more issues on its buses, especially near wiring.

    They will continue to look for any more problems on school buses and of course fix them right away, school district officials said.

    CMS statement:

    “The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School district continues to work to provide safe school bus transportation for all students and keep the public updated on all efforts to meet those goals.

    “The district has concluded that the investigation into the causes of two fires on board CMS school buses is related to the wiring components in the engine compartment.

    “CMS and DPI inspectors were unable to positively identify a specific cause but did feel that the area around the starter could be an area of concern.

    “CMS took proactive steps to begin inspections of the starter area; additionally, DPI issued a ‘Transportation Services’ memo to all districts in NC to reiterate the need to look at wiring components in the engine compartment.

    “CMS Transportation staff looked for missing frame insulators and condition of the wiring; even though some of these buses did not have frame insulators when new. Transportation teams have taken the proactive step of installing this protective sleeve on any bus identified as a concern.

    “The district will continue all efforts to identify problematic issues and work to correct any areas of concern on all school buses.

    “Meanwhile, CMS Transportation has completed compiling all inspection reports for all school buses with the 3126 engine type. You can find part one of the inspection reports here and part two here.”

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