CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte-Mecklenburg School leaders announced a "five-point plan" Wednesday after concern grew following a second school bus catching fire in the 2017 school year thus far.
The system includes a series of steps the school district will take to ensure student and staff safety. The steps consist of:
1. Investigation - CMS has asked the bus manufacturer, senior inspectors from the North Carolina Department of Instruction Transportation Division and fire inspectors from the City of Charlotte to conduct an independent investigation into the cause of this fire and to advise [CMS] on any possible widespread safety concerns.
2. Immediate review - Maintenance procedures, practices and policies will be reviewed to protect the safety of our passengers and staff.
3. CMS will reinspect all buses of this type - The school system said they will inspect all the buses of the same type that burst into flames as well as any areas of concern from this investigation are identified.
4. Criminal investigation - Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Police and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have launched an investigation, including a review of surveillance footage on the bus lot.
5. Safety drills - All CMS drivers and staff will participate in bus emergency-exit procedure drills.
"We want to ensure families that CMS buses are safe and we are doing everything in our power to keep them safe," CMS Chief Operations Officer Carol Stamper said.
CMS said they will release the findings of the current investigation into the bus fire on board bus #188 as soon as they are available.
CMS released a list of buses under investigation:
Thomas Built Buses, the company that provides the buses for CMS, released the following statement:
We have no record of recalls on the CAT 3126 engine within the last 5 years. For further information on the engine and recalls, please contact Caterpillar directly. Thomas Built Buses' first and foremost priority is the safety of our passengers. Thomas Built Bus has just received notice of these fires and we are still gathering information to determine root cause. At this time we do not have sufficient details to comment.