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Leaked FEMA/ASCE Draft Report On WTC Collapse

Hemos posted about 12 years ago | from the structure-integrity-good dept.

Hardware 562

securitas writes "The New York Times obtained a copy of the World Trade Center draft report by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Society of Civil Engineers about the engineering failures that caused the towers to collapse. Among the findings: 'Fireproofing, sprinkler systems and the water supply for hoses were all disabled and the fires generated heat equivalent to the energy output of a nuclear power plant' reports the NYT (Yahoo link). Amazingly, if it wasn't for the fire (or another secondary catastrophic force), the towers would have remained standing."

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Filleted Pork (-1)

Ralph Malph Alpha (551824) | about 12 years ago | (#3256005)

Pork is one fine meat. Jews are crazy.

AMericANS ARe PuSSies!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256204)

USA fags will never catch Usama bin Laden!

Holy warriors of islam aRe willing to die for their cause while USA cowards hide behind their techology!

Allah will prevaile!! The WTC waS just the beginning!


Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256026)


blah blah blah <a href=http://www.eaeeiey/fhtc/ooau/mngwst/oi/vbshzh lngpth/oaooiei/ndthjsvbknld/o/jh/yeee/mngc/aieooio aieu/dk/iaa/fcnm/iaauy/qux/u/t/o/tph/ouaoyoa/pp/oy ee/fr/ieu/f/uaeooao/ngth/uaooiaeuoy/frstjwk/ioaeu/ qung/yauaiiooeuea/gctbclstdcsh/eeui/srkngng/oioiei oaue/pr/euiiayooooi/tzng/eeauyaey/mkc/ii/j/oo/s/oa /s/e/thvs/euo/cst/eeaa/kv/iei/nd/ieeoiiauoieeaiiai /skdfv/euyueayu/plshqusvthph/eiayioo/nv/eoo/cxt/ai oo/txquhnd/euiayooooeeo/btgtshbmsh/io/dt/aio/k/eu/ pp/a/b/eaoi/hndxtshqung/y/hklzstsjndshjstwhwndh/a/ lndstfthmftlh/ea/n/eaia/p/i/kd/e/lfsqu/oeea/ng/ouo iao/p/auee/tsh/i/k/oyuieouoa/w/u/c/yiio/m/eieia/xn g/uoa/ph/uiee/nquvvltndbngstpstf/auieieeoioiau/gj/ y/qu/eae/w/uoa/shst/a/kln/aay/ththphdn/oieoiaiay/h nggsv/uiay/qu/eeu/vmnn/ooieaea/ph/oo/twb/i/wvrngcv jcst/ioy/phk/oiea/xndwst/ioyoi/jk/aiu/jcf/eeue/jgw lfzbgth/ieeieeeoiiaioaeoyii/pdthm/ay/rkkngpsh/oyoi e/lpj/oaoao/ng/ui/shfphc/ay/thj/ieiooa/g/oaauieoae /z/eeaio/pcbzquphnd/oaooiee/thjw/oooei/shfshquh/ua au/sth/ou/ng/ee/wshmng/ea/ncsmvpt/iaiuaeeeeauaay/n gngmphth/auaiaaaoaaiaioaeeoeia/zshlsh/e/ls/ieoaeai aia/s/uiaeuieieei/cngt/ai/jqu/ayaueauo/phphkvc/aye uooea/blshthv/oayoy/ld/aaue/s/o/stqunbfphpt/iaieee eu/qudr/y/xshzb/ii/p/oo/khxmndshthrkphnphm/aay/vww zqumm/ai/r/ieauieeoaioee/bqu/oeee/rcbczmlfl/aie/qu hndcshqu/oa/phtvkhn/eeui/v/aiaea/phqu/oa/jbvnnddtz pcfstmstn/oioy/vptququ/oo/nndtf/ue/stc/e/sstthndst gxv/e/xmjlmthb/iiu/phvfpngtphthzwng/aue/vcvnh/oeuo /ctkndst/a/k/eiauueeoeaeyoeoiea/lp/aieeu/phzsz/oo/ cstpm/a/hkph/ai/z/eeai/dr/a/xxsd/e/qu/aa/zk/ou/ndm /e/f/oy/d/eaie/p/au/dst/a/fhbstmcx/iooyo/tpz/eie/x /i/x/eeioyoiiaueaeeieeeyeauiaoau/ndngphp/eaiai/whf /uaioee/ndvtnd/ai/phn/ea/g/ai/shk/o/z/oiu/j/oi/phl st/oyo/w/ioi/fgdnd/au/thzh/ooieuyee/rkm/a/l/ioa/x/ aieueoii/jndvlngwtx/ioaioieui/m/e/stst/yye/rhdkpph tkndph/o/ktphxxshn/iaaaauoa/krthpgnngrstd/aue/g/oi ee/thfd/ioioaaieeiouai/rwqu/ooaueeeieoyo/wngzhvwqu jrrst/ii/cf/eeyaiioyayi/m/oooiou/ph/eaaoa/x/aei/vd ngqushtx/ia/th/u/lhvg/ee/thd/aieooeayae/dcndpht/ue /ph/yee/cndstdprkgkl/ay/b/o/b/aeeeaaueeaueauoeaoie oya/ngh/auoo/s/uio/pstshv

Amazingly (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256029)

if it weren't for the 767s, massive fires, tens of thousands of gallons of burning jet fuel, and the abliteration of the several floors worth of the buildings' structural cores, the towers would have remained standing. But, shhh, this is leaked info. Don't tell anyone.

Re:Amazingly (3, Interesting)

Grech (106925) | about 12 years ago | (#3256088)

I understand that you were being sarcastic, but the point is a good one. These buildings were designed with short-duration catastrophes in mind. A missile wouldn't have succeeded, but a 767 did. Whether this speaks well of a design that can withstand a heavy impact, or whether it speaks poorly of a design that cannot withstand a kerosene fire, I don't know.

However, now that a 'proof of concept' attack has been performed, it will be interesting to see what engineering tricks can be used to keep a tower standing when a barely sub-nuclear blaze is allowed to burn inside it for an hour or two.

Re:Amazingly (5, Informative)

Fishstick (150821) | about 12 years ago | (#3256312)

TLC ran an interesting program about a month ago that went into detail about why the structures collapsed (beyond the obvious, crash, fire, etc).

The looked at factors like the blast having blown the fire protective coating off the steel and the way the building was designed with the majority of the load being carried by the steel skeleton on the perimeter of the buildings, as opposed to columns within. The achilles heel was reported to be the steel trusses running under the floors connecting the outer steel to the core.

The heat from the fire caused these trusses to weaken and fail, leaving the outer steel frame without the stabilizing and load-transfering benefit. By the time the first floor had begun to collapse, there was so much inertia in the falling portion of the structure that it was inevitable that the each floor below would fail under the crushing pressure.

They interviewed the cheif structural engineer and he said that they had designed the structure to withstand an impact from the largest airliner of the day, the 707... flying at low speed and lost in the fog. They didn't anticipate a modern widebody, loaded with enough fuel for a coast-to-coast flight crashing into the buildings at full speed.

He said that even if they took all that into account, he doesn't think there could have been any way to design the buildings to withstand that. The fact that the structures stood as long as they did is actually a testament to the good overall design (so the program said, anyway).

Re:Amazingly (1, Funny)

Transcendent (204992) | about 12 years ago | (#3256178)

The point was that the sprinklers were shut off.... raising a question as to why, who did it, and could the towers still have been standing if they were on?

Re:Amazingly (3, Interesting)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | about 12 years ago | (#3256207)

I think the 'disabled' part meant that the sprinklers couldn't work after the impact, not that someone deliberately disabled the sprinkler system manually. That was just my reading of it. "Disabled" gives the impression that there was explicit intervention to turn something off. Frankly, I would have been surprised if the whole plumbing system could have withstood a blast like that to allow the sprinklers to work on upper floors.

Acually (3, Interesting)

gvonk (107719) | about 12 years ago | (#3256282)

For that reason entirely, the towers actually did have water tanks up on the 100th floor for putting out fires. Witnesses describe water rushing down the stairways. So in some way, they were prepared for this sort of thing

Re:Amazingly (3, Insightful)

PeterClark (324270) | about 12 years ago | (#3256295)

Doesn't matter, anyway. Even if there had been a rooftop water system, it wouldn't have done a hill of beans. For once thing, jet fuel burns so hot that you need foam, not water, to extinguish the flames. The heat would have vaporized the water even before it would have reached the flames. Second, sprinklers are not designed to pump the amount of water that would be necessary to extinguish such a fire. They would have to deliver a flood of water (think "Towering Inferno") in order to have any chance of extinguishing the blaze. "Sprinklers" are aptly named. They are designed to contain and supress small blazes, not infernos.


Re:Amazingly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256323)

What fucking moderidiot modded this down as a troll?

Re:Amazingly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256334)

No, the sprinklers were not "Shut Off"

The sprinklers were "Disabled", by shrapnel, and as was pointed out earlier, wouldn't have done jack.

really, honest people take off the tinfoil hats and study a little physics.

Re:Amazingly (1)

Fishstick (150821) | about 12 years ago | (#3256336)

I don't think the sprinklers were turned off.

The report says that the theory is that flying debris from the explosions cut through the water pipes, effectively shutting off the sprinklers.

Future (1)

ZaneMcAuley (266747) | about 12 years ago | (#3256050)

What is the situation regarding other tall structures that we have in place today? What is the new features that will be implemented (mandatory building safety standards) in future structures?

Re:Future (1)

Fuzion (261632) | about 12 years ago | (#3256093)

I don't think there's any reason to modify any existing structures. The world trade center buildings were designed to withstand an airplane attack, but they couldn't sustain the heat. Now we could go on to spend billions and billions of dollars securing the buildings against heat, and end up building castles in the sky, but it's not feasible. The incident, as tragic as it was, was a very rare incident and there are many other more probable means of attacking that we should be protecting ourselves against, such as bioterrorism, instead of wasting money needlessly.

Re:Future (1)

ZaneMcAuley (266747) | about 12 years ago | (#3256102)

Then there MUST be sufficient checks to ensure that the existing security/safety measures that are implemented in current structures are working.

Re:Future (2, Insightful)

Wonderkid (541329) | about 12 years ago | (#3256179)

That http://www.revoh.org:1234/whatswrong link is a totally brilliant idea. Anyone else visiting it, it's hidden well, so take your time.

As regards the WTC, the solution is not building safety, it is dealing with what causes someone to have so much hatred that they spend 6 years planning such a terrible attack. Well constructed buildings do not survive nuclear explosions, and that is what will happen next if the world does not open it eyes just a little further, and consider the self a little less.

Re:Future (1)

eric6 (126341) | about 12 years ago | (#3256420)

so if we're supposed to "consider the self a little less", who is it that we're supposed to consider? frankly, i'm interested in my well being, and i open my eyes a little further because doing so increases my ability to consider my self.

Re:Future (1)

thelizman (304517) | about 12 years ago | (#3256310)

So, basically what you're asking is "what modifications can we make that will allow a building to survice several tons of metal slamming into it, and several hours of 2,000 degree fire incinerating the structural members".

The answer: Stop flying planes into shit..

Re:Future (3, Interesting)

irony nazi (197301) | about 12 years ago | (#3256341)

#1 new feature for skyscrapers:
Redundancy is the key to preventing these types of events in the future.

One extreme example would have been 4 mini WTCs would have required 4 airplanes for massive enough damage to destroy all four buildings before people could safely escape.

Less extreme examples include, multiple water pipes or tanks on each floor. Multiple stairway/elevator shafts, distributed to the corners of the building, rather than the center. Multiple tall television antenea around lower manhattan, so that my television wouldn't have had no reception for the weeks following 9/11/01. Multiple, flexible walkways connecting the two bridges at various levels, including the roof level.

Overall, the NYT says that the WTC withstood some amazing forces prior to collapse. They were built to withstand an earthquake. I was standing on Broadway and Fulton when the second plane struck tower 1. The explosion from ~70 stories up knocked out glass windows around me on broadway, 4 blocks away. This is despite the fact that the millenium hotel was blocking the line-of-sight to tower 1. The forces still knocked out all of the windows, through and around another building.

One interesting part of the article is that tower 1 showed signs of collapse within minutes of being struck (as analyzed from film). They also mentioned that the top part of the building angled first one direction and another prior to collapse. In this case, it is good that the inner structure collapsed, because if it hadn't, the top stories might have tipped to one side and fell into another, non-evacuated building. As it happened, the top collapsed downward and that part of the building had been (thankfully) evacuated (except for the firemen).

Re:Future (1)

austus (199520) | about 12 years ago | (#3256350)

After the proposed missile defense system is shown that it can't shoot down anything more than a scud powered by a massive rubberband based propulsion system, maybe they can improve it enough to shoot down airliners that come too close to tall buildings. Just a thought.

Re:Future (1)

ZaneMcAuley (266747) | about 12 years ago | (#3256372)

As I suggested in a previous post I made. Why must we build upwards? Why cant buildings be build into the ground downwards? Benefits of heating, safety (no collapse / collissions).. Psycological? Cost?

hmmmmmm..... (-1, Troll)

mjrKong (235035) | about 12 years ago | (#3256055)

how can we blame this on microsoft???

Re:hmmmmmm..... (3, Funny)

ZaneMcAuley (266747) | about 12 years ago | (#3256073)

Microsoft Joke
There was a pilot flying a small single engine charter plane, with a couple of very important executives on board. He was coming into Seattle airport through thick fog with less than 10m visibility when his instruments went out. So he began circling around looking for a landmark.
After an hour or so, he starts running pretty low on fuel and the passengers are getting very nervous.
Finally, a small opening in the fog appears and he sees a tall building with one guy working alone on the fifth floor. The pilot banks the plane around, rolls down the window and shouts to the guy
"Hey, where am I?"
To this, the solitary office worker replies
"You're in a plane."
The pilot rolls up the window, executes a 275 degree turn and proceeds to execute a perfect blind landing on the runway of the airport 5 miles away. Just as the plane stops, so does the engine as the fuel has run out.
The passengers are amazed and one asks how he did it.
"Simple" replies the pilot,
"I asked the guy in that building a simple question. The answer he gave me was 100 percent correct but absolutely useless, therefore it must have been
Microsoft's support office. Knowing that, it was easy to find my way to the airport."

Re:hmmmmmm..... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256135)


is this news really? (-1)

propstoalldeadhomiez (444303) | about 12 years ago | (#3256061)

It's been said for a long time that the fire weakened the steel and caused the towers to collapse. We know a little more about what happened now, but still, we knew this shortly after 9/11. Let's just hope that they come up with a way to prevent newer towers from collapsing should something similar happen.

The cost of being competitive (-1, Troll)

dattaway (3088) | about 12 years ago | (#3256062)

Well, this was the World Trade Center. They had to cut all costs, including maintenance, to please investors. I'm sure the executives and managers enjoyed their yearly bonus for cost savings.

Insurance and tax payers will pick up the rest.

Re:The cost of being competitive (0, Flamebait)

Fizban64 (544095) | about 12 years ago | (#3256149)

Dam your Cynical but unfortunately I think your right, It would be good if we could see if the bosses did indeed get such a perk, but alas it would only dishearten as all the more so for these obvious deviants of society. I hope they can sleep now, even with there millions in the bank.

Re:The cost of being competitive (2)

prisoner-of-enigma (535770) | about 12 years ago | (#3256278)

Fizban, why do you subscribe to this hated view of things? There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever than anyone is profiting from this disaster, unless you count the heartless scumbags that are claiming to have lost family in the Towers but in fact did not. What perks and bonuses are you talking about? You have no idea, do you? Nobody is making money off this incident, save perhaps the lawyers who will sue anyone and everyone in sight. To blame those with "millions in the bank" shows that you haven't given the matter much thought.

If you're looking for blame, heartlessness, greed, and a lack of pity or remorse, you have to look no further than a man in a camouflage jacket with an AK-47, running around somewhere in the hills of Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Iraq. He's the one who's happy about this.

Not the cost of being competitive (4, Informative)

maggard (5579) | about 12 years ago | (#3256166)

Well, this was the World Trade Center. They had to cut all costs, including maintenance, to please investors.
My what a jaded li'l bastard you are.

Pity that:

  1. The WTC was a public building only "sold" a few months prior to the attack. It was built and owned by the Port Authority of NY & NJ [panynj.gov].
  2. There are likely no other buildings in the world (possibly excepting the Great Pyramid) that could have held up as well/as long to the assault as the WTC did.
So 2 for 2 you were wrong; now please crawl back to your dark corner.

Re:The cost of being competitive (5, Insightful)

prisoner-of-enigma (535770) | about 12 years ago | (#3256226)

Perhaps you could take your anti-capitalist rhetoric elsewhere, comrade. If you had any decency, you'd know that in the time period the towers were designed and constructed in they were paragons of efficiency and safety. Far from cutting all costs and maintenance, the towers were meticulously designed to withstand all manner of natural forces, fires, and other disasters. They were even designed to withstand the impact of a fully loaded 707 jetliner, the largest then available. Alas, a 767 is much larger and carries more fuel. Even then, the towers would have stood had it not been for the fire, and the impact and explosion were far more than any designer could've ever dreamed would happen.

My friend, you appear to have a huge chip on your shoulder that is clouding your judgement. People died because madmen hijacked two jetliners and deliberately slammed them into skyscrapers full of thousands of innocent human beings. Corporate greed and stockholders had nothing to do with it, and it is callous, irresponsible, and shallow of you to even suggest such a thing to further your obvious hatred of corporate America.

Re:The cost of being competitive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256309)


Re:The cost of being competitive (2)

quantaman (517394) | about 12 years ago | (#3256382)

I think it's worthwhile to point out that even if corporate America had nothing to do with the buildings being unable to withstand the impact Corporate greed and stockholders still had something to do with it. It was infact the madmen's hatred of corporate America and execs with millions in the bank and still try to get more money out of starving nations while they starved that likely drove them mad and inspired them to do what they did.

Wow, that's logical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256418)

That's like saying that Jews are at fault for the Holocaust because their culture/religion angered Nazi Germany to point of insanity.

So by your rationale, one could say that if the Jews weren't so Jewish, Hitler would not have killed 6 million of them and they share some of the blame.

Re:The cost of being competitive (1)

irony nazi (197301) | about 12 years ago | (#3256419)

People died because madmen hijacked two jetliners and deliberately slammed them into skyscrapers full of thousands of innocent human beings. Corporate greed and stockholders had nothing to do with it, and it is callous, irresponsible, and shallow of you to even suggest such a thing to further your obvious hatred of corporate America.
Although I mostly agree with you, you have to admit, that at a overall, philosophical level, Corporate greed and stockholders have a lot to do with reasoning for madmen hating the USA and capitalism... and for the impovershment that keeps 3rd world countries poor so that they will be cheap sources of labor, exploited by capitalism, local governments and terrorist organizations.

I say this,yet I also work in finance on Wall St.

tree huggers must shoulder some blame (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256069)

Proper fireproofing material was not allowed to be used in the construction of the WTC because of the antics of ultra-liberal, tree hugging kooks. Asbestos is the fireproofing material of choice, and is completely safe when used properly. When bonded and sealed with modern adhesives, asbestos is far safer than the the fiberglass insulation used in your attic. But thanks to ultra-liberal luddites without any scientific training, the use of asbestos fire proofing was halted halfway through construction. Blame the tree huggers and their shyster lawyers.

UK Horizon program (3, Interesting)

Matts (1628) | about 12 years ago | (#3256071)

I recently watched a well known (in the UK) documentary series called "Horizon" on the WTC disaster. It basically stated in no uncertain terms that the disaster was caused by the use of drywall for all the fireproof walling. The theory was that the explosions caused by the planes basically blew away the drywalling and so the heat from the flames which would have otherwise been slowed down by the drywall, would have been dramatically slowed down.

I wasn't sure whether to entirely believe the program or not, but it seemed fairly plausible. However I came away asking only one question: "So what would have been better?"

Re:UK Horizon program (2)

AnimeFreak (223792) | about 12 years ago | (#3256086)

If I am not incorrect, that drywall you are talking of would not be able to withstand the heat of burning jet fuel.

So, sadly, the drywall would have been useless even if it stayed.

Re:UK Horizon program (1)

Fishstick (150821) | about 12 years ago | (#3256364)

Drywalling? I thought it was sprayed-on fire-resistant coating on the steel trusses that was blown off by the explosion?

I saw a thing on TCL where a guy was combing through the girders being brought to a scrap yard and he could identify steel from the floors were the fire burned because all the coating was gone.

His theory was that the explosion had blown off the coating, leaving the steel exposed to the heat which weakened the steel and caused the horizontal truss system to fail. Once the trusses that held up the concrete floors started to collapse, the fate of the buildings were sealed.

The Price Is Right... (1, Funny)

JeffLebowski (145381) | about 12 years ago | (#3256076)

hey wait, we would save $5 a day if we disabled all the fireproofing, sprinkers, and water supply. This might get me promoted!

because folks safety and regulations mean squat compared to having that extra $20,000 bonus...

all you high level execs, you know who i mean...


"There goes one of gods own prototypes, some kind of mutant never even considered for mass production, too weird to live and to rare to die..."

Re:The Price Is Right... (2)

treat (84622) | about 12 years ago | (#3256107)

hey wait, we would save $5 a day if we disabled all the fireproofing, sprinkers, and water supply. This might get me promoted!

Huh? What are you talking about?

You might want to read the article first (1)

Bowfinger (559430) | about 12 years ago | (#3256181)

I love ripping idiot bosses as much as the next guy, but you have no idea what you're talking about. Even though you can't post as quickly, it's really better if you read the article first.

The theory is that the sprinklers were "disabled" because debris from the plane cut the pipes that fed them. The fireproofing on the steel beams was "disabled" because it was knocked loose by the impact. No one intentionally disabled them to save money.

I'm sure they could have included better fire suppresion if they'd spent more money. I'm not qualified to assess whether there was any reason for the architects to believe that better suppression was necessary.

Re:You might want to read the article first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256347)

On the New York Times it was stated that the fireproofing had just been incresed on some of the upper floors of WTC 2.

Re:The Price Is Right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256407)

BZZT... RTFA -- the sprinklers were "disabled" by the the explosion, not through some bureaucratic blunder. They were rendered inoperative, not switched off.

You sir, are a knee-jerk dumbfuck. Please don't reproduce.

tall vs. poorly equipped (1)

buzban (227721) | about 12 years ago | (#3256079)

it owuld seem looking (briefly) at this that maybe all the talk of stubbier buildings is misdirected...sounds like fire/life safety and similar issues are just as important...or more important.

personally, i hope this notion helps to prevent the complete death of tall buildings in the U.S.

Interesting article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256087)

This report shows what an engeniering marvel the WTC was. Hopefully, this report will shut those people up who blame the engineers. The towers were designed in the 60s - they wern't designed to withstand this kind of thing.

Also - it will be interesting to see the results of this report for other skyscrappers. Will they revist their fire prevention / extinguishing systems? What impact will this have on future buildings?

why the sprinkler system failed (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256092)

It seems like the sprinkler system failed for a simple reason. All the sprinklers pointed down. Each plane must have cut the water pipes (which were in the center of the towers) in such a way that no sprinkler above the fires could get water.

A few redundant water pipes might have made a big difference.

Re:why the sprinkler system failed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256109)

Sprinklers are not going to do a single thing to thousands of gallons of ignited, kerosene-based jet fuel. Not to mention much of that ignited jet fuel poured down elevator shafts.

fa! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256098)

Its common knowledge that the buildings would be still here (though damaged) if the fires had been put out.

Re:fa! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256115)

...but it would have probably been very hard to put out a fire due to the impact of two jumbo jets carrying all that jet fuel.

Wasn't this recently on the TV (4, Informative)

beebware (149208) | about 12 years ago | (#3256103)

Recently on British television (on Discovery channel) they had the programme "How The Twin Towers Collapsed" which detailed that the towers probably fell because they impact shock the poor fire-proofing covering off the support beams under each floor which then allowed the fire to reach them. This then caused the to bend under the now extreme stress and heat they were subject to causing the towers structual intregety to fail. It didn't help that the towers were designed that the outside of the building (especially the corners) were the main support sections: the "core" of the building wasn't made to support the whole building as this would have meant reducing the floorspace available to the offices...
IIRC the person that designed it has an office that overlooks Ground Zero...

Re:Wasn't this recently on the TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256131)

IIRC the person that designed it has an office that overlooks Ground Zero...

The man that designed the World Trade Center, Minoru Yamasaki, has been dead for years. Please spread your misinformation somewhere else, perhaps a Microsoft bashing thread or something.

Re:Wasn't this recently on the TV (3, Informative)

macX_rocks (531018) | about 12 years ago | (#3256285)

Wow... that seemed unnecessary. First, he did say IIRC... also, there was a special on some cable channel (dunno which, lifetime, discovery, something), about a month or so ago, in which there were interviews with a guy who was a lead engineer in the construction of the buildings. This guy does/did have an office that looked out at the buildings. He choked back tears talking about his role and how he feels now.

So, it wasn't the designer. The original poster didn't *remember correctly*... hardly an example of 'spreading disinformation', IMHO. (BTW- IMHO means In My Humble Opinion) (PS- BTW means By The Way) (PS means... oh forget it, I just realized I'm trying to enlighten an AC).

Fuzzy thinking... (2, Insightful)

xeniten (550128) | about 12 years ago | (#3256104)

"If it wasn't for the fires the towers would have remained standing.."

That follows similar logic like...

if it wasn't for the iceberg, the Titanic wouldn't have sunk...or... If it wasn't for the fact that the Hindenberg used hydrogen instead of helium the Hindenberg might not have erupted in flame...or...if it wasn't for Microsoft, there would be nothing but Unix.

Re:Fuzzy thinking... (1)

carm$y$ (532675) | about 12 years ago | (#3256188)

the Hindenberg used hydrogen instead of helium the Hindenberg might not have erupted in flame

It's "Hindenburg", and it has been proved [hydrogenus.com] it wasn't because of the hydrogen...not that I didn't get your point anyway.

if it wasn't for Microsoft, there would be nothing but Unix

Don't forget the Hurd, my friend. :)

Re:Fuzzy thinking... (1)

mocm (141920) | about 12 years ago | (#3256192)

Actually it wasn't the hydrogen that made the Hindenburg such a desaster, it was the materials used for its hull structure.
It is always good to know the exact details of such catastrophies in order to void similar mistakes in construction.

Re:Fuzzy thinking... (3, Informative)

mindstrm (20013) | about 12 years ago | (#3256195)

It is now thought that the Hindenberg did not go down as a result of it's hydrgogen.

Yes, obviously the Hydrogen burned... but that was not what did it in.

It was the coating on the outer shell, made chiefly of the yet-undiscovered ingredients for dry rocket fuel.

Re:Fuzzy thinking... (2)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 12 years ago | (#3256273)

If it had been filled with helium, though, would the entire airship have been destroyed? Could the outer cover have burned off leaving the inner helium balloons and support framework relatively intact, allowing it to hit the ground a little more gently?

Re:Fuzzy thinking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256205)

if it wasn't for Microsoft, there would be dozens of Unix variants, all incompatible with each other.

discovery channel special (4, Informative)

crystalplague (547876) | about 12 years ago | (#3256112)

there was an excellent documentary on TLC/Discovery called World Trade Center: Anatomy of a Collapse.

They explained that most of the WTC towers' strenth was in the outer steel "shell" and the brackets connecting the floor to that were found in the wreckage badly warped. They think the floors collapsed and there was nothing to keep the 4 outer walls from buckling without the floors.

The most amazing part was in the beginning when they were lifting a huge piece of steel off of a tractor trailer truck. It was as long as the trailer, 4 feet wide, and a foot thick. A bit grabber backhoe thing couldn't even lift it, it sort of slid it off the truck. They made the point that this piece of metal falling just a foot to the ground, shook the ground and the camera 30 feet away. Then they said there was 5,000,000 or some large tonnage falling to the ground at 120mph at the time of the collapse. quite amazing

Sprinklers undersized (4, Insightful)

digitect (217483) | about 12 years ago | (#3256136)

I think most of us in the construction industry (architecture) were concerned about this as events were unfolding, even before the first tower collapsed. But the saddest part was finding out later that concessions had been made during design/construction in the sizing and configuration of sprinkler systems including the abscense of a rooftop water supply.

Who knows if it really would have helped, but having to second guess now is hardly comforting. As in most things, those that focus on stupid quantitative evaluations of design (cost per square foot for example) are doomed to come up short when all the chips are really down.

The question is (1)

mocm (141920) | about 12 years ago | (#3256142)

what could have happened in case of a "normal" fire.
Not that such constructions have to be build to withstand such catastrophic events as an airplane crash, but if an uncontrolled fire could cause a building to collapse in such a short time one should rethink some building codes.
Would the Empire State Building have collapsed in case of a crash, with all its multiple redundancies built into its infrastructure?

Re:The question is (1)

Cryptosporidium (145269) | about 12 years ago | (#3256174)

In the case of a "normal" fire, the supply pipes probably would not have been severed. That means that the sprinkler system and the standpipes would still be functioning.

Re:The question is (1)

nucal (561664) | about 12 years ago | (#3256305)

The Empire State Building [tms.org] did withstand an airplane collision once.

At 9:40 a.m., as workers went about their business in the Catholic War Relief Office on the 79th floor, the B-25 crashed into that office at 322 kilometers per hour. The impact reportedly tore off the bomber's wings, leaving a five meter by six meter hole in the building. One engine was catapulted through the Empire State Building, emerging on the opposite side and crashing through the roof of a neighboring building. The second engine and part of the bomber's landing gear fell through an elevator shaft. When the plane hit, its fuel tanks were reported to have exploded, engulfing the 79th floor in flames.

any tower can with-stand an impact of an airliner (2, Interesting)

AnimeFreak (223792) | about 12 years ago | (#3256144)

SkyScrapers.com [skyscrapers.com]

On this site there was an Interview done with an engineer who had some knowledge on the World Trade Center. He stated that the airplanes could have not brought them down seeing that buildings of a lesser, equal, or greater size get the same sort of impact daily with the force of winds.

It is said that the airplanes caused an impact of equal or lesser force than what it would experience from day-to-day wind.

Re:any tower can with-stand an impact of an airlin (1)

errorlevel (415281) | about 12 years ago | (#3256203)

It completely amazes me how much pressure the windows in skyscrapers must face if your stated engineer says that similar skyscrapers experience winds of the same strenght as the airplane impacts.

Re:any tower can with-stand an impact of an airlin (5, Insightful)

Benley (102665) | about 12 years ago | (#3256259)

He stated that the airplanes could have not brought them down seeing that buildings of a lesser, equal, or greater size get the same sort of impact daily with the force of winds.

Well, this may be true, but when you consider that the airplanes *did* down the two buildings, one must realise that there is something flawed about that statement. I would accept that most skyscrapers are pummeled with the strength of an airplane crash daily, except that the force is spread across the entire structure, or at least one entire face, of the building. Consider what it might feel like if you were walking down the street and suddenly the entire energy of the ~50mph wind gusts that you normally can easily withstand were channeled at a 1cm^2 section of your chest, or even your skull. Wouldn't that at least completely knock the wind out of you? I haven't the time to properly do the math myself right now, but it may work out that such an energy release over such a small space would be enough force to pierce skin and possibly break bones.

And that is what made the difference, aside from the fire and explosions that are discussed elsewhere in the thread.

Re:any tower can with-stand an impact of an airlin (2, Insightful)

pinny20 (415459) | about 12 years ago | (#3256271)

Problem is though, all that force was concentrated into a very tight area, only a few floors, thus putting the building under great stress. Plus the floors were ripped apart by the impact, a thing that would not happen with wind.

Re:any tower can with-stand an impact of an airlin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256414)

... not to mention that the building was already withstanding the force of the wind when the airplanes also hit them. Can we say DOUBLE the force. The guy who made that statement was a dumbass.

Re:any tower can with-stand an impact of an airlin (1)

erpbridge (64037) | about 12 years ago | (#3256438)

There are a few problems wrong with that statement.

1) It's been stated that the planes were flying above maximum speeds. The first plane was going at 350 MPH, and the second at 400 MPH. I highly doubt that buildings anywhere get hit daily by 350 MPH winds. (The strongest hurricane is about 150 MPH, I doubt a cyclone or twister is much higher than that)

2) It wasn't just the airplanes IMPACT that brought down the WTC. Read the article. Granted, there was plenty of structural damage done to the buildings from the impact (so much so that I think they would have closed the buildings while a stability assessment could be done.) But, as the article says, 2000F fires can easily melt steel supports in the floor and the central and external cores. That is the major contributor to the collapse.

Not surprising (1)

skilef (525335) | about 12 years ago | (#3256150)

In my humble opinion, it's not very surprising the towers collapsed. Just imagine: the impact of a plane will cause several floors to lose integrity.. If those collapse it will cause a cascade and forces on underlying floors will only increase.
I heard the towers were build to withstand a plane crashing in, but I think they were more concerned with (part of) the towers not flipping over in such a case.

Re:Not surprising (1)

Bowfinger (559430) | about 12 years ago | (#3256268)

I heard the towers were build to withstand a plane crashing in, but I think they were more concerned with (part of) the towers not flipping over in such a case.

I saw a documentary that addressed this. Remember that the towers were designed 30-plus years ago. They were designed to withstand an airplane crash, but not a 767. It wasn't even on the drawing boards yet. The airplane they considered was a Boeing 707 - slower, less mass, and a whole lot less fuel.

PBS (2)

Alien54 (180860) | about 12 years ago | (#3256161)

PBS is supposed to have a special on this sometime later this month.

I don't recall if it is supposed ot be NOVA or Frontline, and will have to wait a few days for the promo to show up on the websites. The are still in the march schedul

Asbestos (4, Informative)

Picass0 (147474) | about 12 years ago | (#3256168)

One of the contributing factors is the lack of Asbestos fireproofing above the 70th floors. New EPA laws were enacted during the construction of WTC that prohibited the spray-on fireproofing that was applied to the I-beams. With the fireproofing, the I-beams could withstand an esimated 2000 degree fire, and without they would lose temper and bend at approx. 1200 degrees.

The jet fuel burned at an excess of 2000 degrees,
so it's likely the towers still would have collapsed, but some extra time would have allowed further evacuation efforts.

Re:Asbestos (5, Informative)

PeterClark (324270) | about 12 years ago | (#3256246)

Except that if you consider that the first tower to come down was the second hit, and that it was hit below the 70th floor, it becomes quite clear that the asbestos that was there did little to help.

Face it, no building could have survived a planeload of burning jet fuel that was busy eating its way through the building, with dozens of floors above adding weight to the weakening structure. And for all those people bemoaning the lack of a rooftop water supply for the sprinklers: consider the fact that the fire trucks at airports are not loaded with water, but with foam. You need foam, not water, to effectively put out burning jet fuel. Otherwise, the water would evaporate into steam before it had a chance to extinguish the flames.

Really, it's amazing that they stood as long as they did. Of course, knowing the limitless bounds of greed, people are still going to try to find someone to sue. "I want a bazillion dollars because the contractor didn't design the building to resist the destructive impact of a 767 and a plane-load of burning fuel!" Sheesh.


+1 insightful to parent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256437)

Damn the EPA.

putting out fires (4, Informative)

Ozan (176854) | about 12 years ago | (#3256172)

Burning kerosine swims on water. No sprinkler system would have put out that fire. Halon would have been needed, but this surely would have been too expensive for the whole building to be equipped with. Nevertheless it surely would have delayed the colapse for a certain time if the sprinklers had worked and cooled the fire.
The report seems not to say anything about the fact that the WTC was a steel construction and thus rather unprotected against fire as opposed to ferroconcrete which is safer but would have needed the buildings to be smaller. This is the cause why there are not similar high buildings in Europe where regulations demand ferroconcrete.

Re:putting out fires (1)

Aaron M. Renn (539) | about 12 years ago | (#3256290)

The purpose of the sprinkler system in this case would not be to put out the fire, but to eliminate heat. The heat channeled into heating the water and converting it into steam would not have been availble to heat the steal beams. It's a matter of water as a cooling system, not a fire suppressant.

Re:putting out fires (2, Informative)

RandomInAction (566930) | about 12 years ago | (#3256408)

Burning kerosene swims on water. No sprinkler system would have put out that fire.

True, however a sprinkler system would have reduced the temperatures reached inside the building, quite possibly enough to have saved more people. Also a sprinkler system would've reduced the number and intensity of secondary fires; office furniture and the like.
Smaller buildings using 'feroconcrete' may well be safer, but this is irrelevant to the WTC terrorist attack, the towers weren't smaller or built using this concrete.

Working sprinklers would've made a difference. Your comment on halon is well received; probably halon would be more effective, assuming the delivery system was operating.

Overall I see this report as optimistic, better protected fire escapes, better fireproofing and more redundancy in the fire fighting capability may have saved, not only more people, but the buildings themselves. Applying the knowledge gained, will result in even studier building.

Lesson Learned... (4, Funny)

Yoda2 (522522) | about 12 years ago | (#3256232)

In the future, we'll just have to build all really tall buildings underwater. Maybe Kevin Costner could offer up some good advice.

TLC/Discovery Special -- Question ... (5, Interesting)

pgrote (68235) | about 12 years ago | (#3256274)

They ran an hour long program where they interviewed two key people ... the mechanical engineer who built the towers and a forensic mechanical engineer who was looking at the wreckage.

Each had unique viewpoints. The designing mechanical engineer is haunted to the core over this. Most of his sentances trailed off as he was reliving what happened.

The forensic scientist identified the fact that the fireproofing material was blown off from the original impact. This hastened the collapse. He also commented that the support structures for the floors were the first things to fail.

My question is did anyone really think they were going to fall? Remembering back to the day no one in the media raised the question. None of my friends or family I was talking to that day even thought of it as a remote possibility.

This raises a very interesting question about our expectations vs. reality. After the shuttle disaster I think this stands as one of the most shocking slaps in the face to us concerning technology.

Of course the buildings weren't going to survive, but our faith in technology made us think that day that the buildings collapsing wasn't a possibility.

WTC & Respect (5, Insightful)

maggard (5579) | about 12 years ago | (#3256276)

Lots of folks are posting-from-the-hip how "obviously" the towers had sub-standard sprinklers or fire protection or should of held up to the impact or the fire...

Think for a few moments before posting.

  1. These buildings received Certificates of Occupancy, had been tested in the prior attack, their systems and procedures were as good as any other in the world.
  2. There is NO evidence of cost-cutting, sub-standard materials or equipment, etc. This was a public building owned until recently by the Port Authority of NY & NJ and by all reports kept in exemplary condition.
  3. These were not slip-shod towers built overnight in some 3rd-world country without reviews, standards, or regular inspections.
  4. Aside from their unusual tube-design (which appears to have been their greatest asset) and height there is nothing special about WTC towers that would separate them from tall buildings around the world. This includes materials.
Finally, before you post realize that 3,000 humans died horribly in this disaster. Perhaps before you post your Monday-morning-quarterbacking, rumor-spreading & conspiracy theories you might show a bit of respect for those folks and the ones they left behind.

A little courtesy and respect is appreciated.

Re:WTC & Respect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256366)

cost-cutting, sub-standard materials or equipment [...] slip-shod towers built overnight in some 3rd-world country

So writing this is lacking respect, but somehow writing "these were not" in front makes it insightful? How clever. What you wrote is actually more insulting than the other comments so far.

Re:WTC & Respect (OT) (3, Interesting)

nagora (177841) | about 12 years ago | (#3256393)

A little courtesy and respect is appreciated.

Didn't stop Cameron making up details (and lots of them) for "Titanic"; how long does something have to be in the past before no one cares I wonder. Probably a question Yassir Arafat is asking himself about now...


Re:WTC & Respect (1)

Slash Veteran (561542) | about 12 years ago | (#3256404)

The fact that 3,000 people died in this tragedy doesn't exempt it from considered analysis and discussion. Instead, it demands it.

The Cathedral went down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256322)

not because their steel structure wasn't good
enough. It came down because the Church of
Globalisation hadn't invested enough in building
a solid moral structure.

Now feel free to moderate this down as troll or
flamebait. It won't change the facts.

WTC was kinda disappointing (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3256349)

The only real criticism I have of the WTC incident was that it wasn't as effective as it could have been. The planes should have hit more near the base of the buildings, that way more people would have been trapped and burned to death.
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