A Copperas Cove Independent School District employee was honored Tuesday for extinguishing a yard fire, stopping it before it spread to the home.
CCISD maintenance employee Raymond Riddle was on a noon bus route with students Feb. 9, going to Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy, when he saw a fire spreading because of winds in a yard in the 2100 block of Scott Drive, according to Wendy Sledd, public information officer for the school district.
“Mr. Riddle is not a regular bus driver for CCISD; he works in the maintenance department,” Sledd said. “However, we are short on bus drivers right now and therefore, he was asked to drive a bus since he is licensed to do so. Incredibly enough, he was put on this bus on that route that specific day, ultimately seeing this fire and extinguishing it before it caught the house on fire.”
According to Sledd, when Riddle noticed the yard fire, he immediately pulled the bus over, had the aide on the bus keep the children on the bus, and alerted a neighbor to begin banging on the door of the house to get the occupant to evacuate.
He then grabbed a fire extinguisher from the bus and successfully put out the fire before it reached the dwelling.
“I was on the midday run. ... I was picking up the girl who lives literally across the street from where it happened, and when I opened the door to let her on, I knew I smelled smoke. Being in the military, a trained observer, I’m always alert everywhere I go. If it was my house and someone saw it, I would want them to do the same thing I did.”
Riddle received a commendation for his actions at Tuesday’s school board meeting from Deputy Fire Chief Gary Young with the fire department.
“It’s just amazing that our school district employs people who take the safety of ours and the children we serve every day seriously,” said Mary Derrick, principal of Mae Stevens Learning Academy. “It makes me proud to be part of a school district that employs such fantastic people.”
Derrick said the children, who have nicknamed Riddle, “Bus driver firefighter superhero,” look up to Riddle because of his quick thinking and heroic actions.
“Firefighters are exciting anyway, and they love their bus drivers, so when they actually got to see someone put out a fire, it was all those lessons we do about being safe with fire,” Derrick said. “He’s someone who put someone else’s needs in front of their own.”