Fire Brigade say his swift actions ensured no one was injured
Grettons Coaches driver Malcolm Smith has been praised for his decisive action in evacuating 27 school pupils before his vehicle burst into flames.
Mr Smith acted immediately after smoke was spotted coming from the vehicle’s engine as it transported Year 6 pupils from Oakdale Primary School in Peterborough to Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire on March 15.
After pulling up on the A421 near Dunstable and ushering the pupils off the coach, Mr Smith, who has worked for Grettons Coaches for almost 20 years, had time to collect their belongings before flames engulfed the vehicle. Nobody from the party, which included three teachers and a parent, was hurt in the incident and a replacement coach was organised by the company to return the children to school.
Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue said it took 45 minutes to extinguish the fire and praised Mr Smith for his quick reactions.
Martin Statham, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue incident commander, said: “The driver did very well to get all 27 children and four adults out before the fire developed. He acted very quickly to do that, pulling over to the side of the road and making sure they were safe. His swift actions ensured no-one was injured.”
The coach, a Van Hool T8-bodied Scania, was reportedly serviced the previous day and at time of writing, Grettons Coaches said the cause of the fire had not been established. The company intends to conduct a full investigation into the malfunction.
Roger Gretton, owner of Peterborough-based Grettons Coaches, said: “We’re very pleased with how he handled the situation.”
Although one child claimed the bus fire was more interesting than the planned day out, the trip to Whipsnade has been rescheduled