Last reviewed 13 January 2021

A rising trend of bus and coach fires must be “thoroughly investigated”, transport union RMT has demanded after figures obtained by The Scotsman showed they increased for three consecutive years.

There have been more than 200 incidents in Scotland since 2015, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service statistics reveal. They included a coach catching fire while transporting school children in Livingston in 2019.

Figures obtained from a freedom of information request showed that the total number of fires tackled by firefighters had increased from 31 in 2015–16 to 43 in 2017–18 and 48 in 2018–19.

Electrical faults were the most common cause, followed by fuel line or pump problems, and wheel or brake faults.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: "These figures show a concerning increase in the number of bus fires in Scotland recorded in recent years. We believe it is important this trend is thoroughly investigated and action taken to tackle the causes of bus fires.”

He has called for a consistent, industry-wide approach to bus safety which ensures all operators are complying with their health and safety duties.

The union believes that this should include:

  • a comprehensive evacuation procedure that is communicated to bus workers and passengers

  • operators ensuring that bus drivers can directly and easily contact emergency services in the event of an incident

  • all vehicles being regularly maintained and inspected

  • the potential for fires to be thoroughly risk assessed.

The RMT has already raised concern about vehicle fires in England.