NIST requested and received public comments on the scope of its plan for the World Trade Center (WTC) Building and Fire Safety Investigation. Comments were received via mail, fax, e-mail, and the presentations and remarks made during the Public Meeting held in New York City on June 24, 2002. After reviewing these comments, the following key modifications were made to the WTC Investigation Plan:
- Federal Advisory Committee: conflict of interest criteria for selection of members have been modified.
- Additional resources have been allocated to enhance the data collection efforts for interviews and questionnaires in Project 7 on Occupational Behavior, Egress, and Emergency Communications.
- Human subjects will be given careful and rigorous consideration, particularly regarding the privacy and confidentiality of their statements. NIST is committed to carrying out the investigation with the highest technical and professional standards, treating all those who experienced this disaster firsthand with kindness and sensitivity, and proceeding in accordance with all legal and administrative requirements.
- The role of floor wardens and fire safety directors has been added to Project 7 and Project 8 on Emergency Responder Technologies and Guidelines.
- Analysis of stairwell requirements and performance were already included in Project 1 on Analysis of Building and Fire Codes and Practices, Project 5 on Reconstruction of Thermal and Tenability Environment, Project 7, and Project 8. An analysis of the pressure resistance of the stairwell construction in the WTC towers has been added to Project 2 on Baseline Structural Performance and Aircraft Impact Damage Analysis.
There were a number of comments related to the following topics, which were already included in the plan, but are restated here for clarification:
- A database of photographs and video images will be developed in Project 5. A database of oral history data from survivors, witnesses, families of victims will be developed in Project 7.
- Communications to building occupants is included in Project 8 and communications between emergency responders is included in Project 4.
- Project 7 will seek to collect information on the evacuation from numerous sources, including correspondence relative to the WTC from OSHA.
- Numerous detailed comments received on specific technical issues requiring study will be included in the appropriate investigation projects, although these details are not specifically included in the plan document.
There were many comments related to the Research and Development (R&D) Program and the Dissemination and Technical Assistance Program (DTAP), which reinforce the importance of these programs for the public benefit. The following points are presented to clarify the scope, plans, and relationship of the R&D and DTAP Programs to the WTC Investigation:
- The R&D and DTAP Programs are proceeding concurrently with the WTC Investigation.
- NIST is receiving $16 million for the WTC Investigation. NIST redirected $2 million in FY2002 to provide partial support for the overall response plan. There is also a $2 million increase requested in the FY2003 President's budget for the R&D and DTAP Programs.
- Many comments cited the exclusive focus of the investigation on WTC buildings 1, 2, and 7. Study of the other WTC and surrounding buildings of interest, however, is included in the R&D Program, which will address the notable responses to impact and/or fire loads in the other buildings.
- There were several requests to consider analyzing other building types relative to the WTC Towers. The R&D Projects on Prevention of Progressive Collapse and Fire Safety Design and Retrofit of Structures will include steel and concrete buildings with frame, tube, or shear wall systems.
- A workshop on Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) is being added to the R&D Program.
In addition to comments on the WTC Investigation and R&D and DTAP Programs, numerous offers were made to provide information and support to the Investigation. This public support is greatly appreciated. NIST will contact individuals and parties if their expertise can assist in carrying out specific investigation projects. NIST also may solicit specific information from the public during the course of the investigation.