Shawnee chief credits crew’s training with saving lives of firefighters trapped in house

Shawnee Fire Chief Rick Potter said firefighters' training paid off on Tuesday after four firefighters were trapped in a burning house. Photo credit Mike Frizzell.

Shawnee Fire Chief Rick Potter says all five firefighters who were hospitalized after last night’s house fire in western Shawnee have been released from the hospital and are back at their homes.

Firefighters from Shawnee and Lenexa initially responded to the house at 4610 Silverheel Street for a reported basement fire at 9:10 p.m.

Potter says that at 9:31 a mayday was called following the collapse of a staircase leading into the basement.

“We did activate our rapid intervention crew, who was able to then rescue the firefighters from the basement,” Potter said.

Four firefighters had to be rescued through a basement window. A fifth firefighter was treated for a “heat-related condition.”

“The Eastern Kansas Regional Multi-County Task Force is on the scene now and they’re beginning their investigation to determine an origin and cause,” Potter said.

The investigations task force is made up of members from the Kansas State Fire Marshal Office, Consolidated Fire District No. 2, Olathe Fire, and Overland Park Fire. Shawnee Police detectives were also at the scene.

Chief Potter credits firefighter training in this type of scenario with saving lives last night.

“Their training kicked in, people stayed calm, people did the job that they needed to do to make sure everybody goes home,” Potter said. “We can not be more proud of the men and women, not only of the Shawnee Fire Department but our mutual-aid partners that were here last night.”

Potter says he isn’t sure how long the firefighters were trapped in the basement after the collapse, but he says it wasn’t long before the rapid intervention crew got to them.

“The experience ranges vary widely from some less than a year on the job to members that have more than 20 years on the job,” Potter said.

The fire department doesn’t plan any additional news conferences but says they will release additional details as needed.

Mike Frizzell is a freelance crime and fire reporter who runs Operation 100 News.