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Civils fear 9/11 report will stifle fi re engineering

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BRITISH ENGINEERS fear that all structural steel will need impact and fire resistant coatings because of recommendations in next week's fi nal US report into the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.

This could cripple modern fire engineering techniques, they warned.

The move would be a response to the scale of the disaster and to the concerns of building owners and insurers.

The US National Institute for Standards & Technology (NIST) will launch its final report and recommendations after its nearly four-year investigation into the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York next Thursday.

Much of the 10,000 page report into the collapses has already been published (NCE 21 October 2004).

NIST has concluded that the rapid progressive collapse of the twin World Trade Center towers was triggered by fire -induced buckling of steel perimeter columns around the impact zones of the two Boeings that flew into the structures.

The columns failed because their spray-applied fire protection was blasted off by the impact forces. So far NIST has made no recommendations for amendments to building codes and standards, but it will next week.

Engineers are concerned that advanced fire engineering techniques developed in Britain will be sidelined in favour of more conservative alternatives.

'Fire engineering makes it possible to leave some steel members unprotected, saving time and money, ' said Waterman Group managing director Bob Campbell.

'It will be interesting to see if NIST will come down on the side of fire engineering, especially for high rise, or if the conservative, prescriptive route is adopted.' Any recommendations NIST makes are bound to have an enormous impact on US and international building codes.

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