Tall Building Safety Becomes a Priority for NIST

June 28, 2005
Codes, standards, and practices in tall buildings are scrutinized following 9/11 investigation

On June 23, 2005, the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) solicited from organizations that both develop and adopt building and fire safety codes to improve the safety of tall buildings. The recent announcement stems from the agency’s investigation and findings of the New York City World Trade Center towers’ collapse.

More than 30 recommendations are being made by NIST. “We believe these recommendations are both realistic and achievable within a reasonable period of time, and should greatly improve the way people design, construct, maintain, and use buildings - especially high-rises,” said 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.”

The recommendations are contained within 43 draft reports that have been released for a 6-week public comment period. Among the recommendations are the following:

  • Specific improvements to building standards, codes, and practices.
  • Changes to, or the establishment of, evacuation and emergency response procedures.
  • Research and other appropriate actions needed to help prevent future building failures.


Each are divided into eight groups: increased structural integrity, enhanced fire resistance of structures, new methods of fire resistance design structures, active fire protection, improved building evacuation, improved emergency response, improved procedures and practices, and education and training.

To review the complete recommendations online, visit (http://wtc.nist.gov). Comments on the draft reports and recommendations are welcome until August 4, 2005, and can be submitted through the website, by e-mailing ([email protected]), faxing (301) 975-6122, or via U.S. mail (send to WTC Technical Information Repository, Attn: Mr. Stephen Cauffman, NIST, 100 Bureau Dr., Stop 8610, Gaithersburg, MD, 20899-8610).

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