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Disaster and Failure Studies Project

Summary:

Extreme events test buildings and infrastructure in ways and on a scale that cannot be easily replicated in a laboratory – buildings and infrastructure are built without being tested at full scale. The ‘real world’ is the laboratory for buildings and infrastructure. The study of disaster and failure events is essential to improving the performance of buildings and infrastructure, the safety of building occupants, and the associated evacuation and emergency response procedures.

The Disaster and Failure Studies Program provides leadership, coordination and management for all EL disaster studies through: (1) monitoring events and evaluating whether decision criteria to launch a study are met, and recommending deployment of a study team when warranted, (2) coordinating the establishment, deployment, operations and reporting of study teams, (3) ensuring that the study team’s safety, health and environmental requirements are met including relevant hazard reviews, training, and personal protective equipment prior to deployment, (4) building and maintaining effective partnerships and communications with other federal agencies, state/local governments, stakeholders and the general public, (5) establishing and executing standard operating procedures and criteria for disaster and failure studies, (6) promoting the implementation of recommendations from all Disaster and Failure Studies, (7) creating and maintaining an archival data repository for Disaster and Failure Studies, and (8) carrying out the statutory requirements of the National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Act, which includes providing the Secretariat for the NCST Advisory Committee and annual reports to Congress.

Description:

Objective:  To provide leadership, coordination, and management for (1) the conduct of disaster and failure studies, including the development and maintenance of an archival data repository, (2) promoting the implementation of recommendations from disaster and failure studies, and (3) carrying out the statutory responsibilities assigned by the National Construction Safety Team Act.

What is the new technical idea?  NIST leads a multi-disciplinary Disaster and Failure Studies Program within the Engineering Laboratory. This program (1) monitors events and evaluates whether decision criteria to launch a study are met, and recommending deployment of a study team when warranted, (2) coordinates the establishment, deployment, operations and reporting of study teams, (3)  ensures that the study team’s safety, health and environmental requirements are met including relevant hazard reviews, training, and personal protective equipment prior to deployment, (4) builds and maintains effective partnerships and communications with other federal agencies, state/local governments, stakeholders and the general public, (5) establishes and executes standard operating procedures and criteria for disaster and failure studies, (6) promotes the implementation of recommendations from all Disaster and Failure Studies, (7) creates and maintains an archival data repository for Disaster and Failure Studies, and (8) carries out the statutory requirements of the National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Act, which includes providing the Secretariat for the NCST Advisory Committee and annual reports to Congress. Disaster studies evaluate the performance of the built environment during hazard events, associated emergency response and evacuation procedures, and the technical, social and economic factors that affect pre-disaster mitigation activities and post-disaster response efforts.

What is the research plan?  The research plan includes the following:

  1. Conduct disaster and failure studies when appropriate, which includes (a) maintaining a state of readiness and maintaining a roster of experts; (b) initiating disaster and failure studies including timely and effective application of the decision criteria; (c) directing the completion of disaster and failure studies from study initiation to the completion of the final reports; and (d) enabling and tracking the development of improved codes, standards and practices based on the findings of disaster and failure event studies.
  2. Implement, execute and update standard operating procedures. Ensure that Standard Operating Procedures are followed during Disaster and Failure Studies. Update the Standard Operating Procedures as appropriate. The Standard Operating Procedures documents the process for ensuring safety during the conduction of Disaster and Failure Studies through (1) required training for field personnel, (2) medical monitoring for select personnel, (3) draft First Level Hazard Review templates for hazard-specific studies, which include field safety equipment, and (4) coordination with the EL Safety Contractor, Office of Safety, Health, and Environment and the Medical Unit. 
  3. Develop and maintain a Disaster and Failure Events Repository that will include data for all events (earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, windstorms, community-scale fires in the wildland-urban interface, structural fires or collapse, storm surge, flood, tsunami) and man-made hazards (accidental, criminal, or terrorist). The key steps include:
    1. Complete a pilot database using the data collected from the Chile earthquake dataset in the HUB environment, obtain the permissions to release this to the external HUB, and release to the public via NIST’s website.
    2. Expand the pilot repository to include current data from the Joplin tornado technical investigation.
    3. Finalize user requirements, complete design and architecture of the repository and select the operating platform.
    4. Develop a cost estimate to implement and maintain a production version of the repository.
    5. Implement the production repository including testing, security, training and population of data.
  1. Partnerships and Agreements. Establish strategic partnerships and standing agreements with appropriate federal agencies, state and local governments, academic and industry organizations to ensure effective national coordination in disaster and failure studies. This includes establishing coordination mechanisms and protocols for technical activities and public communications with partnering program agencies in the NCST, National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP), and the National Fire Prevention and Control Act and providing information to other agencies, stakeholders, technical bodies, Congress, and the public about the Disaster and Failure Studies Program.
  2. Promote the implementation of recommendations from disaster and failure studies for improvements to codes, standards, and practices. Work with EL’s Manager of Building and Fire Codes and Standards and appropriate staff members and organizations to promote the recommendations from disaster and failure study reports.
  3. Provide Secretariat support to the National Construction Safety Team Act. Implement and carry out the statutory obligations of the Disaster and Failure Studies Program including:
    • Management of the NCST Advisory Committee, including the member selection and approval process, conduct of meetings, and assist with preparation of Advisory Committee reports to Congress.
    • Management of the preparation and delivery of the NIST Annual Report to Congress in accordance with the NCST Act.

Major Accomplishments:

Impact of Standards and Tools:

  • Forty model building and fire code changes consistent with NIST’s World Trade Center investigation recommendations are now required by the International Code Council’s (ICC) I-Codes.  Similarly, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has adopted 15 changes responsive to the WTC Recommendations for inclusion in the 2009 Editions of the NFPA 5000 Building Code, NFPA 1 Fire Code, and NFPA 101 Life Safety Code.
  • NIST submitted three code change proposals (and collaborated with ASCE/SEI on an additional proposal) to the International Building Code (IBC) based on the recommendations from the study of the collapse of the Dallas Cowboys Indoor Practice Facility.  The ASCE/SEI and one of the NIST proposals were accepted by the IBC structural committee during the code hearings in May 2012.  Implementation of these code changes will result in safer membrane-covered frame structures during windstorms.

Start Date:

October 1, 2011

Lead Organizational Unit:

el

Staff:

Project Leader: Eric Letvin

 

More Information on Current and Past Studies

Disaster and Failure Studies

Topic: Disaster Resilience

 

Contact

General Information:
Eric Letvin, Project Leader
301-975-5412 Telephone

100 Bureau Drive, M/S 8611
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8611