Some Kansas City blazes that claimed the lives of firefighters over the past half-decade have led to safety innovations that became commonplace nationally.
Two Kansas City firefighters were killed last Monday when the wall of a burning, multi-story brick building collapsed onto them and two others.
A rapid intervention team, or RIT team, rushed in and pulled the four men from beneath the rubble. Two of the firefighters survived but two others — 43-year-old Larry J. Leggio and 39-year-old John Mesh — didn't make it.
The Kansas City Fire Department developed the RIT teams after the 1999 death of Battalion Chief John Tvedten, who became disoriented, got lost and ran out of air after an evacuation ordered during a four-alarm warehouse blaze, The Kansas City Star reported.
Rescuers could hear the alarm bells ringing on his air tank but could not find the 47-year-old father in time to save him.
Tvedten was known for promoting firefighter safety and had suggested Kansas City develop such teams, which are now standard in the industry.
Two of the worst days in the fire department's history also sparked innovations that have helped improve safety for firefighters.