The diatribe presented by Nadine Post in "Skyscrapers Supporters Infuriated by Fire Fearmongers" (ENR 6/7 p. 48) was bolstered by Richard Schulte, a fire protection engineer, and the editorial page of ENR, which lamented "the nation should not fall prey to hysterics, hyperbole and hot air."
My background is 33 years in fire research, education and investigation. I am proud to say I am an advisor to the Skyscraper Safety Campaign.
The Skilling group examined the structural consequences of a Boeing 707 (similar to the aircrafts that hit the World Trade Center towers) at 600 mph hitting a twin tower. They concluded only local damage would be sustained; the effects of an aircraft fuel fire were not considered. For those that think the airplane did it, it and its fuel would only be the ignition source. The fire that occurred is the traditional design fire condition that ASTM E119 is supposed to simulate. Anyone examining these factors would want to know what happened here, and how we could prevent it again. ENR should be paying attention to that instead of defaming the motives of two women who want to make a difference and have been instrumental in effecting the $16 million investigation by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Nadine Posts article provided a cooling overview of the post-9/11 fire safety debatea debate that often seems to be generating more heat than light.
The cover story message is so strong it effectively shuts off all debate on the topic of high-rise safety. The article further offers conclusive testimony that those who disagree are uninformed complainers having no expertise on the subject. You cited fire fatality statistics on office fires to prove how safe they are compared to residential properties. I agree, but this a dangerous comparison. The potential for fatalities in high-rise offices is much greater than for single-family dwellings.
Congratulations on publishing one of the few articles on fire not colored by emotion or opportunism. Nadine Posts article is rational and fair. I was also encouraged to see Jon Magnusson and Larry Griffis adding their voices of reason to the article as unbiased individuals.
AISC welcomes industry and government emphasis on advancing the state of the art in fire protection and engineering. AISCs efforts in fire, blast and progressive collapse had begun prior to 9/11. Keep up the good work.
Diatribe or Cooling Overview?
August 16, 2004