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. NIST has a long history of seeking to improve the safety of buildings, their occupants, and emergency responders through studies of disasters and building failures. Since 1969, NIST has investigated more than 40 earthquakes, hurricanes, building and construction failures, tornadoes, and fires. These studies have resulted in better understanding of the sources of building failures and provided science-based methods to address the underlying causes. The improved understanding and science-based solutions are presented to standards development organizations for possible adoption into codes, standards, and practices. The Disaster and Failure Studies Program provides leadership, coordination and management for all EL disaster studies, with a focus on standardizing deployment criteria, investigative team activities, disaster measurement in the field, and data integrity. The DFS Program also oversees all activities related to the National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Act, which includes providing the Secretariat for the NCST Advisory Committee and annual reports to Congress.
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, (3) carrying out the statutory responsibilities assigned by the National Construction Safety Team Act, including the development of field investigation expertise and metrology.
What is the new technical idea? Field deployments after disasters are carried out by various organizations and institutions to better understand adverse disaster impacts on the built environment and communities, to document successful building and infrastructure performance, improve hazard characterization, to validate models, and to inform prevention and mitigation strategies that improve response and recovery efforts in future events. NIST leads the multi-disciplinary Disaster and Failure Studies (DFS) Program from within the Engineering Laboratory, and seeks to standardize disaster field deployment, assessment, and reporting protocols. This program implements these goals by: (1) monitoring events using a screening tool to evaluate whether decision criteria merit the establishment and deployment of a study team, (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 DFS investigations, (7) creates and maintains an archival data repository for DFS, (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, and (9) oversees a disaster metrology research program that interacts with other groups in EL, to directly inform best practices for (1)-(7).
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. In FY17, in addition to the continued support of the Joplin tornado recommendations’ implementation and the extension of the disaster data repository, the Disaster and Failure Studies program will advance field investigation metrology by developing field measurement tools and data collection techniques that efficiently and effectively collect and record field data, characterize the uncertainty in the measurement values, and provide field investigation data to the public.
What is the research plan? The project plan comprises seven major activities: (1) implement and carry out statutory obligations of DFS; (2) conduct new investigations and field studies when appropriate; (3) promote the implementation of previous DFS investigations; (4) update and implement standard operating procedures; (5) develop and maintain a disaster data repository; (6) establish strategic partnerships and agreements; and (7) develop and carry out new disaster metrology research initiatives. Each of these activities has an associated research plan: