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'License tall buildings like stadia' - call

SKYSCRAPERS should be licensed like sports stadia, Arup director Peter Bressington said this week.

Bressington is leader of Arup's Extreme Event Mitigation Taskforce which is due to publish its recommendations following the 11 September World Trade Center attacks.

He said that licensing tall buildings would ensure stringent fire protection standards and better tall building management.

Under the proposal, tall building licences would need to be renewed once a year to ensure that changes to the structure, its use and the number of occupants could be appraised.

'There has been an independent licensing authority for sports stadia in the UK since the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. We would like legislation for licensing of tall buildings along the same lines, ' said Bressington.

The report is expected to cover passive fire resistance and designing ductile floors that sag under impact, taking loads from falling debris without risking progressive collapse.

'Floor ductility is not expensive. It's just simple seismic engineering that could be applied on all tall buildings, ' he said.

Precautions against biochemical attack should include designing inlets for air conditioning well away from public access and ensuring that mechanical systems like air conditioning can be rapidly shut down.

The report is expected to give guidance on simplifying evacuation procedures, improving communication systems, offering more training to evacuate staff and fitting CCTV on staircases.

Simple retrofitting could include widening entrances from floors to staircases.

'There are simple things that can be done that shouldn't cost too much, ' said Bressington.

The 27 page document - expected to be released today - will set out four 'enhancement levels' for buildings. These will range from level 1 - a simple review of the building's safety each year, to level 4 - a long list of measures suggested for very tall buildings or high risk government buildings.

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