Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Experimental Study on Tire Fire Penetration into a Motorcoach Passenger Compartment



Erik L. Johnsson, Jiann C. Yang


Two full-scale fire experiments were conducted to determine the mode of penetration of a tire fire into the passenger compartment of a motorcoach. A special burner was designed to imitate the frictional heating of hub and wheel metal caused by failed axle bearings, locked brakes, or dragged blown tires. For the first experiment, heating to obtain tire ignition was initiated on the exterior of the passenger side tag axle wheel and for the second, on the exterior of the passenger side drive axle wheel. Measurements of interior and exterior temperatures, interior heat flux, and heat release rate were performed. Standard and infrared videos and still photographs were recorded. Both experiments showed that the tire fires ignited the plastic fender and glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) exterior side panel (below the windows) upon which the fires spread quickly and penetrated the passenger compartment by breaking the windows. Measurements showed that other potential fire penetration routes (flooring and lavatory) lagged far behind the windows in heating and degradation.
Fire and Materials


Transportation fires, fire growth, flame spread, vehicle fires, bus fires, tire fires, fire penetration


Johnsson, E. and Yang, J. (2012), Experimental Study on Tire Fire Penetration into a Motorcoach Passenger Compartment, Fire and Materials, [online], (Accessed May 17, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created September 13, 2012, Updated November 10, 2018