- Associated Press - Friday, May 27, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The aim of recommendations in a new report focusing on the recent deaths of two firefighters is to minimize future losses, Kansas City Fire Chief Paul Berardi said.

“It is unfortunate that events are the impetus for change, but it’s probably human nature,” Berardi told The Kansas City Star (https://j.mp/20K4Z5r ). “Why do we have seat belts? Because we killed so many people and they didn’t wear seat belts.”

The 68-page report released this week focuses on the deaths of firefighters John Mesh, 39, and Larry Leggio, 43, who were killed Oct. 12 when a wall collapsed as they fought an arson fire.

The report by an 11-member Kansas City Fire Department team says commanders allowed Mesh and Leggio to continue to fight the fire from an alley that had been declared a collapse zone.

The report said multiple fire companies didn’t hear the collapse-zone order issued six minutes before the wall collapsed.

Berardi said he supports all 14 recommendations in the report and that the department has adopted or made progress on most of them, including a requirement for everyone at a fire scene to acknowledge that they understand when a collapse zone has been declared around a burning building. He said roll call will be taken as it is after an order to evacuate a building, and that he’s confident these safeguards will prevent an exterior wall collapse from claiming the lives of Kansas City firefighters again.

He said other recommendations that could be implemented include: enhancing and digitizing the Fire Department’s data on structures that pose specific risks, such as warehouses and places with hazardous materials; and introducing a firefighter accountability system with GPS-style technology in firefighters’ airpacks that would allow commanders to pinpoint the location of firefighters at the scene. The latter enhancement cannot take place until the department’s airpacks are replaced at a cost of about $1.5 million, Berardi said.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com


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