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World Trade Center Disaster Study

On August 21, 2002, with funding from the U.S. Congress through FEMA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced its building and fire safety investigation of the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster that occured on September 11, 2001.  The NIST WTC Investigation was conducted under the authority of the National Construction Safety Team Act. 

The goals of the investigation of the WTC disaster were:

  • To investigate the building construction, the materials used, and the technical conditions that contributed to the outcome of the WTC disaster.
  • To serve as the basis for: improvements in the way buildings are designed, constructed, maintained, and used; improved tools and guidance for industry and safety officials; recommended revisions to current codes, standards, and practices; and improved public safety.

The specific objectives were:

  • Determine why and how WTC 1 and WTC 2 collapsed following the initial impacts of the aircraft and why and how WTC 7 collapsed;
  • Determine why the injuries and fatalities were so high or low depending on location, including all technical aspects of fire protection, occupant behavior, evacuation, and emergency response;
  • Determine what procedures and practices were used in the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of WTC 1, 2, and 7; and
  • Identify, as specifically as possible, areas in current building and fire codes, standards, and practices that warrant revision. 

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WTC Study Fire Test Image 

WTC Fire Experiment #6 showing room completely enveloped in flames and showing failure of two glass panels on left. (Photo Credit: NIST)

Contact
General Public and Technical Professionals:
NIST WTC Investigation Team
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8610
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8610
Phone: (301) 975-6051
Email: wtc@nist.gov  
 
News Media:
Michael E. Newman
NIST Public and Business Affairs
Phone: (301) 975-3025