Commendation for hero bus driver Andy Waterman
There was an emotional reunion today when a heroic bus driver was reunited with the man he saved.
Andy Waterman received a Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation from Acting Chief Fire Officer Adam Eckley in recognition of the life saving action he took in rescuing Mitch Cook from the third storey of a blazing building in Braintree.
Andy, a bus driver for First Essex, was on his way back to the depot when he was flagged down and alerted to the blaze on Wednesday February 11. He pulled his bus up close to the building and Mitch was able to jump to safety onto the roof of the bus.
Mitch said: “I had just got into the shower when the smoke alarm started going off. I looked up and saw smoke coming under the bathroom door. I opened the door and there was thick smoke everywhere and there was no way I could get down the stairs to escape.
“I ran the only direction I could which was up and to a window and then I was stuck. I was in the window thinking I would have to jump three stories down then the bus arrived. It was only a couple of minutes but it felt like a lifetime up there.
“It was great to see Andy again this morning. I just wanted to shake his hand and say thank you for saving my life. He came along at just the right time and if it hadn't been for him I don't think I would be here today.”
Andy said: “I was driving down the high street at the end of my shift when people started flagging me down and pointing to a burning building where I could see a man was trapped up on the third floor.
“I pulled up next to the building and he jumped. It was at least five feet out and ten feet down so it was a big jump by Mitch but he made it.
“It's been really good to meet Mitch and have a chance to get to know him. We've had a really good chat this morning and I'm just glad that I was there at the right time to be able to help.”
Acting Chief Fire Officer Adam Eckley presented Andy with a commendation in recognition of the life saving action he took that night. He said: “If it hadn't been for Andy this could have had a tragic outcome. Andy‘s actions that evening were remarkable and it gives me great pleasure to present this Chief Fire Officer's Commendation to him.
“Our crews are trained to deal with situations like this but despite the fact that Andy hasn't had any of that training he did the right thing at the right time and saved a man's life.”
Also present with A/CFO Adam Eckley were the crew from Braintree fire station, First Essex Buses Managing Director - Adrian Jones, and EFA members, Councillor Graham Butland and Councillor Lady Patricia Newton.