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Archive for Thursday, July 29, 2010

Report: Death of Shawnee firefighter while searching for victims was accidental, as was fire

July 29, 2010

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— The investigation into the May 22 fire that led to the death of firefighter John Glaser has determined that Glaser’s death was accidental, the Shawnee Fire Department has announced.

Glaser, 33, died while searching for a resident reported to be inside a burning house. The department on Thursday released a report filed by the Eastern Kansas Multi-County Fire Investigation Task Force, which also determined that the fire was accidental, likely caused by one of several appliances in the garage.

Glaser succumbed to toxic gases and a lack of oxygen, resulting in his death, the report said.

On May 22 firefighters arrived at 13408 W. 75th Court, to find flames coming from a rear garage in the home’s basement. They had been told the homeowners and pets were in the home. Later they learned no people were inside.

The report said that when entering the home through the front door, Glaser was in the front of the search line. The search crew took a dry hose line and moved down the hallway on the main level, locating a dog in a utility room and bringing it outside.

They then re-entered the home, following the hose to look for more victims. At some point, Glaser became separated from his search partner, who heard him ask for help. Firefighters soon located Glaser in the master bathroom, just above the entrance to the basement garage.

Glaser had vomited in his face mask. He had removed his gloves, helmet and mask, trying to clear the vomit. The report stated he became disoriented and overcome before he could get his face mask back on, and he collapsed from the level of toxins in his system.

Glaser was brought outside, and resuscitation efforts began, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Glaser’s Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus appeared to be in working order and still had two-thirds of its air remaining, though the report noted that the system and air is being sent for further testing.

The cause of Glaser’s collapse was attributed to a number of factors. His crew had provided mutual aid to the Overland Park Fire Department earlier in the day and had been on three calls there before returning to the home station in Shawnee. The crew also had several calls in Shawnee that day, including a drowning, and Glaser may have been additionally fatigued from the exertion of the search crew’s first entry into the burning home.

John Mattox, Shawnee fire marshal, said the Shawnee Fire Department had no plans to change any procedural policies in response to the report. He said a report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a division of the Centers for Disease Control that investigates all line-of-duty firefighter deaths, may have suggestions for operational changes.

Glaser graduated in 2000 from Kansas University.

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