Shawnee Fire Station 71 dedicated to John Glaser
Shawnee Friday marked five years since Shawnee lost firefighter John Glaser to a house fire. While the tragedy of his death still makes the hearts of his family and of the community ache, it is also now a day that will ensure that his name will never be forgotten in Shawnee.
On the anniversary of Glaser's death, May 22, the city of Shawnee and the Shawnee Fire Department held a dedication and commemoration ceremony at Fire Station 71 on Quivira Road to rename the station as the John B. Glaser Fire Station. Glaser's parents, Arvon and Patty (Reardon) Glaser, attended the event along with his wife, Amber, and their two children, Brecken and Emma.
Emma, held by her mom, said thank you to the crowd of a couple hundred people at the ceremony, before Amber Glaser spoke to the crowd about her husband and his legacy.
"He was a man of character," she said. "He was a true hero. Sometimes it takes a tragic event to realize just how precious life is."
Glaser died while performing a search of a house that was on fire, thinking there was a person still trapped inside. He was separated from his crew inside the home and was unable to escape before being overcome with smoke. His death in 2010 was the first ever firefighter death in the city.
To honor his legacy, Fire Chief John Mattox said the city wanted to do something permanent that would ensure the city and the fire department can always remember Glaser. Within the department already, firefighters wear pins with Glaser's initials on them and a street sign above the fire station's garage bay doors shows the address and date of the day Glaser died in the line of duty.
"In the fire department, you could still sense a yearning to do something more permanent," Mattox said. "This way John will always be a part of Shawnee."
Glaser was veteran of the United States Marine Corps and worked at Hallmark before moving to Tampa briefly, where he met Amber. They returned to the Kansas City area and he became a firefighter in 2004. They had two children, Brecken and Emma. He had also completed his first triathlon and learned to scuba dive.
With the fire department, Glaser was a member of both the Swift Water Rescue and the HazMat teams. Mattox said Glaser is still remembered for his sense of humor and his passion and dedication to his alma mater, Kansas University. At his commemoration ceremony Thursday, the Shawnee Mission Northwest Band performed the "Crimson and Blue" in his honor, and bagpipes played the a version of the "Marine's Hymn."
Glaser's captains were directed to remove a large cover from the front of the fire station that revealed the John B. Glaser Fire Station. His family thanked the city for its support since his death, and Amber Glaser thanked all of the other firefighters that continue to serve as role models for the community.
She described her husband and all firefighters as selfless and echoed the words of the department's chaplain, Don Lewis, by saying that each of them make the community stronger.
"Shawnee is a better city because of John B. Glaser and those like him," Lewis said.