...were destroyed by the impact of the airplane, these proposals would have had absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the WTC attack."

Schulte: "In the last 30 years, a major fire has never occurred in a high-rise building protected throughout by a sprinkler system. The fires at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, the First Interstate Bank Building in Los Angeles and the One Meridian Plaza Building in Philadelphia were all partially sprinklered buildings and the fires in these buildings all started in unsprinklered areas of the building. Given this record, it seems reasonable to question whether or not we actually need more reliable sprinkler systems."

Recommendation 13. NIST recommends that fire alarm and communications systems in buildings should be developed to provide continuous, reliable, and accurate information on the status of life safety conditions at a level of detail sufficient to manage the evacuation process in building fire emergencies, and that standards for their performance be developed.

Magnusson: "This is a good recommendation."

Schulte comment: Will fire departments actually use the enhancements proposed by NIST? Based upon my work experience with the San Jose Fire Dept., I seriously doubt it. Fire departments don't use the fire alarm and communications systems already mandated in the high-rise provisions in the model building codes.

Recommendation 14. NIST recommends that control panels at fire/emergency command stations in buildings should be adapted to accept and interpret a larger quantity of more reliable information from the active fire protection systems that provide tactical decision aids to fire ground commanders, including water flow rates from pressure and flow measurement devices, and that standards for their performance be developed.

Magnusson: "This is a good recommendation."

Schulte: "Can fire departments actually use more information that they already get? There's such a thing as information overload. The NIST report is a good example of information overload."

Recommendation 15. NIST recommends that systems should be developed and implemented for: (1) real-time off-site secure transmission of valuable information from fire alarm and other monitored building systems for use by emergency responders, at any location, to enhance situational awareness and response decisions and maintain safe and efficient operations; and (2) preservation of that information either off-site or in a black box that will survive a fire or other building failure for purposes of subsequent investigations and analysis. Standards for the performance of such systems should be developed, and their use should be required.

Magnusson: "This is a good recommendation."

Schulte: "It seems reasonable to ask just how often this proposal would be of value? Most fires in sprinklered buildings will be controlled by the sprinkler system and there will be little for the fire department to do."

Group 5. Improved Building Evacuation

Building evacuation should be improved to include system designs that facilitate safe and rapid egress, methods for ensuring clear and timely emergency communications to occupants, better occupant preparedness for evacuation during emergencies, and incorporation of appropriate egress technologies.

Recommendation 16. NIST recommends that public agencies, non-profit organizations concerned with building and fire safety, and building owners and managers should develop and carry out public education campaigns, jointly and on a nationwide scale, to improve building occupants’ preparedness for evacuation in case of building emergencies.

Magnusson: "This is a good recommendation."

Schulte: "Americans are besieged by all sorts of warning labels, warning signals and information on preparations for all sorts of emergencies. Do we really need another education campaign? If we do, how about a campaign addressing highway safety. The risk of dying in a highway accident is more than 90,000 times the risk of dying in a fire in a high rise office building."

Recommendation 17. NIST recommends that tall buildings should be designed to accommodate timely full building evacuation of occupants due to building-specific or large-scale emergencies such as widespread power outages, major earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes without sufficient advanced warning, fires, accidental explosions, and terrorist attack. Building size, population, function, and iconic status should be taken into account in designing the egress system. Stairwell and exit capacity should be adequate to accommodate counter flow due to emergency access by responders.

Magnusson: "Exits are already provided for full building evacuation...the only question is how long it takes. Under the most common hazard scenarios it is safer not to evacuate the whole building, but rather, to evacuate those people closest to the hazard. If stairwells are filled by people who were not in the hazard area, they will impede the progress of those in danger.

NIST did not provide any historical safety data showing the stairwells are not wide enough. To design a tall building for "fast" total evacuation would require...