...the entire lower floors to be nothing but stairs! The width of the stairwells had absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the WTC attack."

Schulte: "What is the basis for this recommendation? The loss history of high-rise buildings clearly indicates that this recommendation simply isn't necessary. High-rise buildings are the safest buildings that we construct."

Recommendation 18. NIST recommends that egress systems should be designed: (1) to maximize remoteness of egress components (i.e., stairs, elevators, exits) without negatively impacting the average travel distance; (2) to maintain their functional integrity and survivability under foreseeable building-specific or large-scale emergencies; and (3) with consistent layouts, standard signage, and guidance so that systems become intuitive and obvious to building occupants during evacuations.

Magnusson: "Intuitive and obvious signage is a good recommendation. It is not possible to maximize remoteness without negatively impacting travel distance. This would reduce safety in fires. Maximum remoteness could also make a building more vulnerable to certain kinds of terrorist attacks. The locations of stairwells in the WTC were determined in accordance with fire safety and building code standards, not some undefined terrorism standard.

The historical safety record for the integrity and survivability is excellent. Logic dictates that stairwell walls would not need to be "hardened" unless the design hazard is big enough to destroy all the stairwells in a building. Any hazard this large would destroy the entire building. Therefore, it would be irrelevant what the walls were made of. If the NIST recommended "hardening" of the walls is implemented, it could actually make the building more vulnerable to certain kinds of terrorist attacks. The structural integrity provisions of stairwells in the WTC were designed in accordance with fire safety and building code standards, not some undefined terrorism standard.

Schulte: "To date, NIST simply hasn't made the case that what we presently do is "unsafe." The loss history demonstrates that buildings constructed to comply with our present day codes are ‘safe.’"

Recommendation 19. NIST recommends that building owners, managers, and emergency responders develop a joint plan and take steps to ensure that accurate emergency information is communicated in a timely manner to enhance the situational awareness of building occupants and emergency responders affected by an event. This should be accomplished through better coordination of information among different emergency responder groups, efficient sharing of that information among building occupants and emergency responders, more robust design of emergency public address systems, improved emergency responder communication systems, and use of the Emergency Broadcast System (now known as the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System) and Community Emergency Alert Networks.

Magnusson: "This is a good recommendation."

Recommendation 20. NIST recommends that the full range of current and next generation evacuation technologies should be evaluated for future use, including protected/hardened elevators, exterior escape devices, and stairwell navigation devices, which may allow all occupants an equal opportunity for evacuation and facilitate emergency response access.

Magnusson: "This is a good recommendation."

Schulte: "The use of protected elevators to provide emergency response access to the upper floors of high rise buildings is a reasonable proposal, but utilizing elevators for evacuation purposes under emergency conditions probably isn't feasible."

Group 6. Improved Emergency Response

Technologies and procedures for emergency response should be improved to enable better access to buildings, response operations, emergency communications, and command and control in large-scale emergencies.

Recommendation 21. NIST recommends the installation of fire-protected and structurally hardened elevators to improve emergency response activities in tall buildings by providing timely emergency access to responders and allowing evacuation of mobility-impaired building occupants. Such elevators should be installed for exclusive use by emergency responders during emergencies. In tall buildings, consideration also should be given to installing such elevators for use by all occupants.

Magnusson: "NIST is incorrect to say that first responders do not currently use elevators. They are used all the time in emergency situations. National building codes already require elevators to return to the lobby during a fire alarm for use by emergency responders. Elevators are already in fire-protected enclosures. If you decide to "structurally harden" elevators, the key question is how ‘hard’? What is the design hazard in an attack on the elevators?"

Schulte: "Using elevators for evacuation purposes for all occupants more than likely simply isn't feasible."

Recommendation 22. NIST recommends the installation, inspection, and testing of emergency communications systems, radio communications, and associated operating protocols to ensure that the systems and protocols: (1) are effective for large-scale emergencies in buildings with challenging radio frequency propagation environments; and (2) can be used to identify, locate, and track emergency responders within indoor building environments and in the field.

Magnusson: "This is a good recommendation."

Schulte: "This recommendation appears to be reasonable, but under what conditions do you want to the emergency communications system to function-another 9/11 event? More than likely, designing a communications system to function at another 9/11 event will be cost-prohibitive."

Recommendation 23. NIST recommends the establishment and implementation of detailed procedures and methods for gathering, processing, and delivering critical information through integration of relevant voice, video, graphical, and written data to enhance the situational awareness of all emergency responders. An information intelligence sector should be established to coordinate the effort for each incident.

Magnusson: "This is a good recommendation."

Schulte: "What's the cost? How often will it be used? Are the benefits worth the cost?"

Recommendation 24. NIST recommends the establishment and implementation of codes and protocols for ensuring effective and uninterrupted operation of the command and control system for large-scale building emergencies.

Magnusson: "From a building design standpoint, there is absolutely no way to ensure effective and uninterrupted operation of a building command center. A bomb...