Canadian Consulting Engineer

World Trade Centre disaster study yields 30 recommendations

July 7, 2005
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology -- NIST -- has released 30 draft recommendations on improvi...

The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology — NIST — has released 30 draft recommendations on improving the safety of tall buildings following its investigations of the World Trade Centre disaster of September 2001.
The 30 recommendations, which were contained within 43 reports amounting to 10,000 pages, were released for a six-week public comment period on June 23. Among the recommendations are specific improvements to building standards, codes and practices, including sections related to structural design.
In the section “New Methods for Fire Resistance Design of Structures,” for example, the report suggests that an objective of structural designs should be that fires will burn out without local or global collapse. The researchers recommend using the structural frame approach to fire resistance ratings. They also recommend developing in-service performance requirements for spray-applied fireproofing, that new fire resistive coating materials be developed and tested, and that the fire performance of both conventional and high-performance structural materials such as fire-resistant steels and concretes be assessed.
The NIST team also want active fire protection systems, e.g. sprinklers, fire alarms, and smoke management systems to be enhanced. Specifically, for example, tall buildings should have “real time secure transmission of data from fire alarms and other monitored buildings for use by emergency responders at any location, and presentation of that information either off-site or in a black box that can survive a fire or other building failure.”
Not surprisingly, another recommendation was that fire protection engineers be included in the design teams of high-risk and tall buildings.
As a U.S. federal agency, NIST has no authority to implement its recommendations, but it strongly urges local governments and designers to adopt its recommendations.
WTC Lead Investigator Shyam Sunder at a press briefing in New York City. "The recommendations also should lead to safer and more effective building evacuations and emergency responses. However, improvements will only be realized if they are acted upon by the appropriate organizations."


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