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NEW YORK CITY-The US Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology yesterday revealed details of its $16 million investigation of the World Trade Center buildings following the Sept. 11 attacks. The study of structural failures and the buildings’ subsequent collapse will focus on construction, materials and technical conditions that contributed to the disaster.

Much of the planning work for the two-year undertaking has already been completed by NIST and recent passage of an emergency supplemental appropriations bill now enables the study to move forward.

“Many people, including technical experts, industry leaders and families of victims, have pressed for a broad-based federal investigation of the building collapses at the World Trade Center,” says NIST Director Arden Bement Jr. “The lessons to be learned from this investigation and the companion research and development program are critical to understanding what core reforms are needed to make tall buildings safer nationwide, enhancing the safety of fire and emergency responders, better protecting occupants and property, and providing better emergency response capabilities and procedures for future disasters.”

The investigation plan comprises eight areas of study:

  • Analysis of building and fire codes and practices
  • Baseline structural performance and aircraft impact damage analysis
  • Mechanical and metallurgical analysis of structural steel
  • Investigation of active fire protection systems
  • Reconstruction of thermal and tenability environment
  • Structural fire response and collapse analysis
  • Occupand behavior, Egress and emergency communications
  • Fire service technologies and guidelines

    As a non-regulatory agency of the Department of Commerce’s Technology Administration, NIST develops and promotes measurements, standards and technology to enhance productivity, facilitate trade and improve the quality of life.

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