Driver who saved passengers from Allandale bus fire says firefighters are real ‘heroes’

Driver Steven Dow (front, middle) was praised by First Bus management and colleagues for his speed of thought when a fire broke out on his bus. Picture: Michael Gillen
Driver Steven Dow (front, middle) was praised by First Bus management and colleagues for his speed of thought when a fire broke out on his bus. Picture: Michael Gillen

A hero bus driver who ushered passengers to safety after a blaze broke out on a double decker insists the credit lies with the firefighters who raced to the scene.

Steven Dow (42) was the first to react to the danger when flames ripped through the rear of the First Bus vehicle in Allandale on Monday night as he slammed on the brakes and roared at the four customers on board to evacuate.

First Bus driver Steven Dow. Picture: Michael Gillen

First Bus driver Steven Dow. Picture: Michael Gillen

Eyewitness footage and images showed the fire engulfing the lower level of the bus after Steven’s quick-thinking brought it to a halt on Seabegs Road, which connects Allandale and Bonnybridge.

But the former factory worker, who only passed his bus driver’s test in April, has said the fire crew who tackled the blaze deserves all the praise.

The Dunipace man told The Falkirk Herald: “The heroes are the guys in the emergency services.

“I’m just relieved that everybody was okay. It was a frightening thing to happen.

The double decker caught fire on Seabegs Road, Allandale. Photo credit: Graeme Bell

The double decker caught fire on Seabegs Road, Allandale. Photo credit: Graeme Bell

“There were no indications anything was wrong with the bus. I was coming through Allandale and there was a loud bang.

“I looked in the mirror and a flame had shot up from the engine compartment at the back.

“I put the handbrake on and opened the doors and just screamed for everybody to exit as there was a fire in the engine.

“I was walking at the back to make sure they weren’t stopping and I was phoning the emergency services at the same time.

The blazing bus was caught on camera by Seabegs Road residents. Photo credit: Graeme Bell

The blazing bus was caught on camera by Seabegs Road residents. Photo credit: Graeme Bell

“The passengers were all very, very good with me.”

Fortunately, First Bus has confirmed no one was injured during the terrifying incident on board the X37 service, the cause of which is still being investigated.

Ensuring that was the case was always the priority for Steven, who also highlighted the sharp response time of the fire service.

He continued: “My first reaction was to stop the bus, get everybody off and down to a safe distance.

“We go through that training at the academy and at the depot. You hope the training sticks in your brain and luckily it did.

“The first thing to do is contact the emergency services and make sure everybody is out.

“From the minute I saw the danger to the emergency services arriving, you would be lucky if it was five minutes.”

While he hopes no other bus drivers get caught up in a similar situation, Steven has offered some wise words should the scenario ever arise.

He said: “Just prioritise getting customers as far away as possible and don’t tackle it yourself — you don’t know what has caused it.

“Contact the emergency services, they’ll know what to do.”

First Bus has paid tribute to Steven for the part he played in escorting the customers to safety.

A spokesman said: “We can confirm our vehicle was involved in an incident at 8.05pm on August 20 in Allandale. No passengers or staff were injured in any way in the incident.

“The driver deserves huge praise as his swift actions to stop the vehicle and evacuate all four passengers have prevented any injuries whatsoever and avoided a much more serious incident.

“Our staff are all highly trained and we have emergency procedures in place for this sort of incident. Passenger and staff safety is our number one priority and is at the forefront of everything that we do. We will now carry out a full internal investigation to establish the root cause.”

Firefighters spent close to an hour battling the blaze.

A fire service spokeswoman said: “Operations Control mobilised two fire engines to Seabegs Road, Allandale where firefighters extinguished the fire.”