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Engineering plan needed for tall tower disasters

News :

MEGATOWER OWNERS must take over responsibility for disaster management and appoint trained disaster managers to control occupant response to emergencies, leading structural engineers said this week.

'Developing an engineering response to the World Trade Center disasters is likely to be easier than improving the management of the evacuation, ' said Arup director Faith Wainwright, a member of Arup's extreme events mitigation task force.

'Someone on the spot should be ready and able to decide when and how the building should be evacuated.'

Reports since the 11 September tragedy suggest that many of those who died remained at their desks in accordance with the phased evacuation plans designed to deal with conventional fires.

Simultaneous evacuation of all occupants has usually been seen as a risky operation fraught with potential disaster due to the limited escape routes available in megatowers.

Connell Mott MacDonald divisional director James Bennett said that creating extra escape capacity would be difficult.

'Clearly, current management procedures need to be reviewed and a full disaster management plan prepared for major office buildings, ' he added.

'But to get the maximum use of existing escape routes, building owners will need to appoint managers who are properly trained to evaluate risk and control evacuations effectively.'

INFOPLUS Go to the World Trade Center microsite at www. nceplus. co. uk

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