Jill Bronaugh
Public Information Manager
Office of the State Fire Marshal
800 SW Jackson, Suite 104
Topeka, KS 66612-1216

Pratt Firefighters Receive 2018 Tom McGaughey Fire Service Award for Heroic Actions

OSFM | Nov 07, 2018

PRATT — Kansas State Fire Marshal Doug Jorgensen awarded six Pratt firefighters with the 2018 Tom McGaughey Fire Service Award at the Pratt City Council meeting Monday. Each year, the Office of the State Fire Marshal joins with the Kansas State Association of Fire Chiefs and Kansas State Firefighters Association to honor a firefighter or team of firefighters for heroic actions above and beyond the call of duty.

After being nominated by Pratt Fire Chief David Kramer, Lieutenant Chad VanSlyke, and firefighters, Justin Sanko, Richard Rawson, Jarod Gilmore, Lee VanSlyke and Kenny Lee were selected for this year’s Tom McGaughey Fire Service Award for their heroic actions at a house fire in Pratt on the morning of Jan. 25, 2018.

The Pratt Fire Department was dispatched to the fire at 211 Austin. After being told there were people inside the structure, they bravely went into the house, which was engulfed in flames, and quickly recovered three family members. When it was discovered that there was fourth individual in the house, they didn’t hesitate to go back in and recover that person.

“As chief of a department,” Kramer said, “we understand our job and the risks that are sometimes necessary. However, there is that one moment that you have to make the decision that your people's health and safety have become your top priority. At this fire, I was thinking we were at that point, and I was pulling them out, but due to our dedication to training and confidence that we could do it, there was no hesitation on our team’s part to go back in and get the job done.”

Unfortunetly, this fire ended tragically with the loss of four lives, but this team of firefighters, without question or hesitation, rushed into perilous conditions in a valiant effort to save lives. 

“It is an honor to be able to recognize the Pratt fire firefighters for their selfless actions on that tragic morning,” Jorgensen said. “They risked their lives in an effort to save a family they didn’t know. Firefighters put their lives on the line everyday, without hesitation, to save the lives of strangers. This award is our way of saying thank you. Your sacrifice makes a difference.”

The Tom McGaughey Fire Service Award recognizes exemplary accomplishments and acts of heroism by firefighters and other persons at fire-related incidents in Kansas. The individual or team is recognized for their acts above and beyond their basic duties and responsibilities, and for exemplifying the finest traditions of the fire service. The award is named in memory of Wichita Fire Chief Tom McGaughey who perished in a fire, along with three others (Chief Fire Inspector Merle O. Wells, Firefighter Jimmy L. Austin and Firefighter Dale J. Mishler) at the Yingling Auto Dealership on November 21, 1968.