One of Chief Jeff Hudson's firefighters was the first Shawnee, Kansas, firefighter to die in the line of duty.

“My belief is that fire sprinklers should be in every structure built in the United States where life safety is a concern.”

Name: Chief Jeff Hudson (ret.)
Date of fire: May 22, 2010
Location: Shawnee, Kansas
Injury: One of his firefighters was the first Shawnee firefighter to die in the line of duty.

Jeff HudsonTo say that Chief Jeff Hudson (ret.) of the Shawnee (KS) Fire Department is an advocate for home fire sprinklers is an understatement.

Hudson knows that if fire sprinklers had been in place when his crews responded to a house fire on May 22, 2010, he would not have lost a devoted firefighter, friend and brother in the fire service.

John Glaser, 33, a six-year veteran of the fire department, was among the first two crews to arrive at the scene. More than one neighbor believed residents were still inside the home. That left Firefighter Glaser and his Captain no choice but to head in first with a dry hose line. Once inside, John immediately spotted the family’s dog and brought the animal out to safety.

Hudson recounts Glaser became nauseated during re-entry to continue search and rescue operations, shortly after that Glaser in a very clear voice called for help.

“We knew at that point that his mask was off, because the call came in too clear,” Hudson says.

In the time it took firefighters to find Glaser after a mayday was called, carbon monoxide rose to a level too great for Glaser to survive.

There were no residents in the home that evening. An electrical appliance left on in the basement is the suspected cause of the fire.

“If this was a home with sprinklers, we would have needed only one truck to respond,” Hudson says. “Instead it took several crews a good hour to get the fire under control, leaving the family with no home and us to bury one of our own.”

Hudson notes there are very few homes in the area with sprinklers (less than five), but he hopes a story like Glaser’s, who left behind a wife and two small children, will motivate residents and builders to think about the life-saving impact a home sprinkler system can have.

When Chief Hudson retired from the Shawnee Fire Department in September 2011, he joined the staff at NFPA to help support the installation of automatic sprinklers in all new one- and two-family homes.