Firefighters Killed in Alley Shouldn’t Have Been There
I’m sharing this not because I think anyone in particular is to blame, but the Fire Departments here train well - if this can happen here, it can happen anywhere. So it’s about spreading the word on thinking about acceptable risk. Risking lives to save lives is sometimes expected of Fire departments, but risking lives to save buildings isn’t something I, or anyone else, should expect.
What Werner didn’t realize is that an order had gone out and they were in a “collapse zone” — a dangerous place where building debris could fall. Within minutes, the wall would come crashing down on them, killing firefighters John Mesh, 39, and Larry Leggio, 43. Werner suffered serious injuries and has yet to return to work.
There is no written protocol at the Kansas City Fire Department dealing with collapse zones, but the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) — one of the agencies investigating the Kansas City fire — is very clear about what is acceptable inside those zones.
“Obviously, no building is worth a firefighter’s life,” NIOSH said in a report on a 2012 Philadelphia building collapse, which also killed two.
“Therefore, imminent risk to a firefighter’s life to save a building is unacceptable.”