Legacies not forgotten, KCFD takes lessons learned from fire that killed two to apply better protections

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Almost two years removed from a deadly fire that happened across the street from his barbershop, Theodore Davis said he and the community still mourn and remember fallen KCFD firefighters Larry Leggio and John Mesh.

"We made our way up here and the smoke was so dense and my grandson got on the phone and said `somebody died in that fire.` It really touched me because those firefighters got killed like that, it was sad," Davis said.

Davis said the neighborhood hasn't been the same since the fire.

"It was a big loss. The building that burned up and stuff like that, it`s kind of empty. We don`t get the traffic like we used to get. The store and stuff don`t get the traffic it used to get. It`s just totally different now," he said.

Firefighters Leggio and Mesh died after a wall collapsed on them while they were fighting a fire on the 2800 block of Independence Avenue in October 2015. Two other firefighters were injured in the collapse, one has returned to work and the other has retired from the department.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Healthy, an independent government investigation organization, released a 74 page report that included 14 recommendations KCFD can implement to protect first responders.

"Every single one of their recommendations we have at least made progress on," Fire Chief Paul Berardi said, "We knew from day one that we wanted to get better. We don't want this to happen again. We take this report seriously as we did our internal report."

Although the pain of losing two of his own is still raw, Chief Berardi said he hopes the department can continue to move forward.

"Hopefully this report will help bring closure to the incident. It will never extinguish their memory," he said.

And it's in their memory that Davis finds joy knowing a positive change has come from such a tragic incident.

"It`s a good feeling knowing [KCFD] is going to know what`s going on and how to regulate in a different way," Davis said, "I`m happy for them, I`m happy they are doing something about."

To read the full report, click here.