Like many firefighters, I donate my time as a professional volunteer. Having just gotten back from a college field studies trip to Death Valley, something came up that ended up with more opinions than answers. So, it’s FFN time to see what others know about the subject and hopefully in the process this post can elicit some good discussion and guidelines for steep grade downhill driving.
When you are driving a truck, or in this case a bus filled with students, and you encounter a 9% grade, has it ever occurred to you that you could loose your brakes? It happened to us a couple of days ago and by the grace of God, no one was hurt and the bus could be limped into our base camp without incident.
The driver maintained constant brake pressure and eventually the brakes started to smoke, to the point where it looked like there was an engine fire. The bus driver applied brake pressure but the pedal went to the floor and the bus was picking up more speed. The only thing that ended up stopping the bus was a soft gravel section of roadway on the opposite side of the road. The gravel stopped the bus.
The discussion point questions are as follows: