Beep Beep! On Fire Bus!

So I’m driving home from band rehearsal today. We are all excited because we are kilting in a new member on Saturday and we are also having a fundraiser to help get us to Colorado Springs for the fallen firefighters memorial. Anyhow, I’m driving along and I saw a school bus and the wheels started turning….. “What if that thing was on fire?? Where do I get the battery terminals? Is the engine in the front or the back?” You know the drill.

I pulled over and whipped out my handy dandy googles to figure out where all those buses live. I mean they have to have a maintenance bay, right? I was driving most of the way across town to get home anyway and as luck would have it, I was about 3 minutes from the depot!!! I took a hard left and pulled in there.

I put on my best “aw shucks” face and just strolled right into the maintenance bay. I came upon a mechanic and basically said “hey man, where are the batteries in here and if it’s on fire how do I go about getting to the engine?” He went and got the service manager…

The service manager’s name is Martin. He was super gracious and walked me through their bay and showed me all the different types of buses they had in service.

I never knew this, but there are all kinds of DOT rules about buses. Makes sense, right? Anyhow, each bus has a battery compartment in the rear. It might be on either side, but per the DOT regulations they have to be marked. As you can see in this photo, this one is clearly marked “BATTERY”. Even I couldn’t mess that up.

To make it even more convenient, each bank of batteries is on a sliding tray! The positive and negatives are color coded in the way you would expect. Pretty neat.

The gallery on the right here has some photos of a bank of batteries and also shows them slid out. Some of the models I looked at also had a clearly marked electric cut-off switch! That would sure make disconnecting the battery a little faster and you don’t have to worry about cutting the wrong thing, or taking a section out of the cable. I guess it’s a decision for you to make whether you’ll use the cut off or not. I should note it was directly next to the battery compartment. Makes sense, right?

The next bus I looked at surprised me. It wasn’t diesel. It was CNG. I knew that we had a bunch of city buses that ran on CNG but I guess I had never put any thought into it. I was so surprised that I kind of forgot to take a picture of the engine. Sorry. One thing I did note though, was a small access hatch that is labeled on the side. It gave me access to put water right onto the CNG tank. It’s silly, but the markings read “3600 psi”. So if you ever see one, that’s what’s going on with that.

In the interest of a gratuitous diesel shot, here’s the engine of a diesel one. (A little smaller than a fire engine, but still cool)

I took a couple of shots of the latch mechanism for the rear hatch just for grins. It’s pretty straight forward and really shouldn’t give you any problems, but watch out for those gas struts there 😉

Thanks TUSD Transportation for letting me poke around and thanks to Martin for being so gracious with his time.

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