To address a fleet becoming increasingly prone to fires, the South Carolina Department of Education installed alarms on 2,000 school buses to alert drivers of potential incidents.
The advanced warnings came after several high-profile fires occurred last school year that prompted the evacuation of students without injury. The DOE responded over the summer with the upgrades.
“All of our rear-engine buses were equipped with heat sensors and alarms,” said spokesman Ryan Brown. “These sensors detect high temperatures in the engine compartment and sound an alarm within the bus to alert the driver and occupants.”
WW Williams won the $1.116 million contract in November to install the fire alarm systems, power sirens and controls.
Hundreds of school buses as old as 1995 are still in use across the state.
Superintendent Molly Spearman previously called on the state legislature to replace the older buses since South Carolina owns and operates the oldest fleet in the nation. However, Gov. Henry McMaster vetoed attempts by lawmakers to appropriate lottery revenue as well as additional funding for school bus replacements.
State Sen. Hugh Leatherman, president of the senate and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has vowed to override McMaster’s veto.