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Emergency Response Operations. Appendices A-I. Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster.

pdf icon Emergency Response Operations. Appendices A-I. Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster. (17651 K)
Lawson, J. R.; Vettori, R. L.

NIST NCSTAR 1-8; 272 p. September 2005.


World Trade Center; high rise buildings; building collapse; disasters; fire safety; fire investigations; emergency responders; medical services; emergencies; evacuation; fire fighters; fire fighting; rescue; communication networks; planning; elevators (lifts); regulations; office buildings; training


The September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center (WTC) caused the deaths of 2,749 people. Included in the group were approximately 421 emergency responders from The Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY), The New York City Police Department (NYPD), the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD), The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), from WTC security firms, and volunteer emergency responders who were in the WTC area of the city when the attack occurred. This report addresses the operations of these emergency responders, the technologies used during WTC operations, and the guidelines and practices that governed these operations. The objectives of this study were to 1) fully document what happened during the response by the emergency services to the attacks on the WTC, up to the time of collapse of WTC 7; (2) identify issues that need to be addressed in changes to practice, standards, and codes; (3) identify alternative practices and/or technologies that may address these issues; and (4) identify R&D needs that advance the safety of the fire service in responding to massive fires in tall buildings. The approach taken was to conduct a comprehensive search for data September 11, 2001, analyze the data, and report on the findings. Data gathering included the collection of written documents, electronic recordings, visual data (both photographs and video), and first-person accounts of what happened during WTC operations. Results from the emergency responders were faced with the greatest disaster of the last 100 years in the United States. The emergency responders had one common focus: to save as many victims of this attack as possible. During the response, emergency responders had to function under war-like conditions as they carried out their rescue and evacuation efforts. Emergency responders operated with equipment, human endurance, and emergency response practices that were stretched well beyond normal limits. This report discusses how the emergency response activities and equipment were challenged. The emergency responders paid a heavy price in the loss of hundreds of their own lives when the WTC buildings collapsed. This study focused on the following topics: emergency responder dispatch and response to the WTC; emergency responder access to the WTC site and towers; command and control associated with the emergency response; communications during operations and the of communications in tall buildings; fire fighting in high-rise buildings and the evacuation from the WTC towers; emergency responder situational awareness and the physiological impact of conducting operations in tall buildings.