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Driver who rescued students from burning bus receives national award

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The quick-thinking bus driver that pulled four children, including two in wheelchairs, off a bus that was on fire was honored for his actions at a ceremony Tuesday morning.

First Student bus driver Alfred Lewis was presented with a First Student Meritorious Service Award and a National Safety Council Award, KSTP says.

"The driver did everything by the book and then some,” Stephanie Creech with First Student told KSTP. “We're very pleased with his quick and efficient actions.”

On March 6, Lewis was driving students to Elm Creek Elementary School in Maple Grove when "a flame came out of the heat duct and smoke began to fill the space by the passenger door," he told First Student. He made sure to remain calm and he quickly worked to get the students off the bus.

“I opened the passenger door and my window,” he told First Student. “This created a draft that drew the smoke out instead of allowing it to fill the bus."

He grabbed the fire extinguisher and sprayed it into the vents while the nurse on board the bus lined up the students at the emergency exit, and then Lewis helped them all off the bus. No one was injured.

Lewis, who has worked as a full-time driver for First Student for six years, maintains that it was a team effort to get everyone off the bus safely.

“I was just so happy when all the kids were off the bus and safe,” Lewis told First Student. “I just did what we all do here. I believe any of our First Student drivers would have done the same thing. I just did what we’re trained to do."

Lewis is still driving his normal routes and because he did everything by the book during the fire, he'll be assisting the company with its annual safety evacuation training this spring, WCCO reports.

Investigators are still inspecting the bus to determine how the fire started, but they believe it was some kind of electrical short, WCCO says.

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