Nearly two years after two Kansas City firefighters were killed when a wall of bricks collapsed on them, a federal agency is set to release its report.
A Kansas City Fire Department spokesman said Wednesday that the report will be out on Thursday morning.
The deaths of firefighters John Mesh and Larry Leggio led to a number of changes within the Kansas City department. Chief among them was the establishment of a formal written policy on excluding personnel from so-called collapse zones when buildings are deemed to be unstable.
The men died on Oct. 12, 2015, during an arson fire on Independence Boulevard.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which is issuing the report, has long recommended that departments have formal collapse zone policies. The new report will almost certainly reiterate that recommendation for the benefit of other fire departments in recounting the events leading up to the deaths of Mesh and Leggio.
A collapse zone is an area that extends 1 1/2 times the height of a wall that is in danger of falling. When an incident commander establishes a collapse zone, everyone is supposed to get out.
At the fire two years ago where Mesh and Leggio suffered fatal injuries, several firefighters remained inside the collapse zone six minutes after it was declared. The incident commander was about to order them out when the wall came down.
The NIOSH report is also expected to make a number of other recommendations, many of which the Kansas City department adopted after completing an internal investigation and issuing its own report more than a year ago.
In addition to the collapse zone exclusion policy, the department adopted a policy requiring a roll call of all personnel when a collapse zone is established to account for everyone.
NIOSH investigated less than half of all firefighter fatalities and its reports are meant as a teaching tool for the industry. The agency does not order changes nor penalize fire departments for violating safety rules and practices, most of which are voluntary.
Kansas City TV station KCTV5 first reported the upcoming release of the report on Wednesday afternoon, and published online a five-page document that was purportedly the full report.
But the document, which has no title page, is scores of pages shorter than a standard NIOSH report and has none of its key elements. It appears, instead, to be someone’s comparison of what are purported to be NIOSH recommendations and the recommendations included in the fire department’s internal report.
A department spokesman said he had not seen the document and said Chief Paul Berardi will discuss the full report with the news media on Thursday.