Putnam City School Bus Driver Hailed Hero For Saving Students From Fire

A Putnam City School District bus driver was recognized as a hero for his quick response to a fire. 

Thursday, February 17th 2022, 5:23 pm


A Putnam City School District bus driver was recognized as a hero for his quick response to a fire. 

The bus was stopped in a northwest Oklahoma City neighborhood near north MacArthur Boulevard and Hefner Road when Bob Olmstead noticed smoke by his window, The veteran driver said his training kicked in and he immediately evacuated students off the bus minutes before it was engulfed in flames.

“Just about the time you think you’ve seen everything,” said Bob Olmstead, bus driver. “Something else pops us.”  

In 29 years of driving for Putnam City schools, last week was Olmstead’s first bus fire. “This is every bus driver’s worst case scenario,” said Olmstead.

He was convinced the fire started in the battery box, which sits directly underneath his seat.

“The smoke was coming out of the console right here behind where I’m sitting,” said Olmstead. “Decided there was too much smoke and told the kids evacuate and they did.” 

He walked through the bus to check for any remaining students. Olmstead made sure to keep the kids far from the growing fire and smoke.

Parents are thankful drivers like Olmstead received training to handle those types of situations.

“When I hear that Mr. Bob sprung into action,” said Greg Clyde, parent. “I think about had they gone another half mile on that route how things would have been different.”  

Clyde's middle school son was on the bus that day and sent him video of the fire. 

“You just look at that and your heart kind of sinks a little bit,” said Clyde.  

Parents, students and district employees are now calling Olmstead a hero. He has been named transportation employee of the month and was honored by the district. 

“To have the thought that somebody thinks you’re a hearo is really nice,” said Olmstead. “That feels good, feels really good.” 

District officials said it will be a while until the exact cause of the fire is known. In the meantime, mechanics are checking batteries on all the district’s buses.



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