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Disaster & failure studies


Buildings, bridges, and other man-made 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.


Equipment stands on tripods on a balcony with the beach and sea in the background.

Oct. 25, 2021, Update on NIST’s Champlain Towers South Investigation

Illustration shows flames and smoke over a pine forest.

Draft California Fire Code Includes NIST Tool to Evaluate Wildfire Hazard

Two people in hard hats and other safety gear look at a small piece of broken concrete that one of them is holding.

NIST Establishes Expert Team to Investigate the Champlain Towers South Collapse

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