School bus driver Mary Anne Pease helps fellow driver John Locke off a smoke-filled bus during a fire-safety simulation August 4. (Record Photo/Nick Sellers)
School bus driver Mary Anne Pease helps fellow driver John Locke off a smoke-filled bus during a fire-safety simulation August 4. (Record Photo/Nick Sellers)

Archived Story

School district hosts fire, police departments for bus safety

Published 11:34am Wednesday, August 6, 2014

By Nick Sellers | Staff Reporter

MADISON – With a new school year comes a slew of issues and logistics that need to be covered, not the least of which would involve the ever-expanding facilities for Madison City Schools.

On August 4, the day before schools opened their doors for classes, the district held informational sessions on another frontier: school buses.

“The big thing is that our parents and stuff, they don’t realize exactly what these bus drivers go through,” said Bobby Jackson, director of the district’s transportation department.

Madison Fire Department and the police department’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) were represented at the demonstration. Captain Dustin Spires organized a bus-fire demonstration, where simulated smoke was spread throughout a bus to show how quickly smoke can engulf the interior of a vehicle.

The simulation showed the bus’ being filled with smoke and the occupants’ vision being completely obstructed within 30 seconds.

Sergeant J.D. Stout of the Madison Police Department briefly spoke about being aware of other situations that can arise on a school bus.

“We try to avoid having another situation like they had in Dale County,” Jackson said, referring to the incident near Dothan in 2013 in which a bus driver was killed and a child occupant was taken hostage. “I don’t want any of my drivers to get killed or I don’t want kids getting taken off the bus. This is just to give them some insight on what can be done if that happens.”

Jackson added this was the first year the district conducted these specific safety workshops for the 63 bus drivers employed by Madison City Schools.

“A bus is an extension of the school, and what happens in a school can happen in a bus,” said John Peck. P.R. manager for the district.

Peck also said Jackson possibly has more demonstrations planned, including a SWAT team simulation perhaps happening sometime in January.

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