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Disaster & failure studies

Overview

Buildings, bridges, and other structures are not supposed to fall down. But sometimes they do, and for different reasons: fires, earthquakes, high winds, errors in design and construction, flaws in materials, and even terrorist attacks.

When disaster and failure events cause, or pose the potential for, substantial loss of life, the NIST Disaster and Failure Studies Program provides a platform for research into building and infrastructure performance and emergency response and evacuation procedures.

By understanding the technical causes leading to structural or response failures and then making that information public, NIST engineers and researchers strive to prevent similar failures in the future. Studies conducted by NIST have led to significant changes in practices, standards, and codes to enhance the health and safety of the American public.

News

Close-up of a map showing a city called Lumberton

The Trials and Triumphs of a Small City’s Hurricane Recovery Could Help Other Communities Bounce Back

In September 2018, a North Carolina city’s long road to recovery from Hurricane Matthew two years earlier became even longer. Lumberton, a small but diverse city of 21,000 people, 96 kilometers (60 miles) inland from the coast, unfortunately found itself in Hurricane Florence’s sights. The Lumber River, which bisects the city, swelled greatly. The flooding damaged hundreds of buildings, causing
Palm trees stand in the foreground before a pile of debris with construction vehicles.

Champlain Towers Photos, Videos and Other Evidence Wanted for NIST Investigation in Surfside, Florida

Illustration shows two houses from above with distances marked between house, woodpile and shed for fire safety.

NIST Offers First-of-a-Kind Guidance for Holistic Home and Community Wildfire Protection

A man in a hard hat crouches next to a concrete column, taking measurements.

Feb. 18, 2022, Update: NIST Champlain Towers South Investigation Adds New Expert Team Members

The Research

Projects & Programs

Additional Resources Links

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