RealNews

9/11's Hard Lessons Lead Agency to Urge Tougher Building Code

Trying to apply the lessons learned at a terrible cost on Sept. 11, 2001, the New York City Buildings Department yesterday outlined a future in which office towers could have larger, sturdier and more numerous stairwells; full sprinkler systems; and better protected ductwork. The agency’s World Trade Center Building Code Task Force recommended that owners and managers develop plans for fully evacuating office buildings under catastrophic circumstances, above and beyond the floor-by-floor evacuation plans required for fire safety. It called for the development of a simple, uniform information card for every office building that firefighters could consult quickly to pinpoint a structure’s vital features. And it urged collaborative compliance with the city building code by diplomatic missions, federal agencies and quasi-governmental authorities like the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which are otherwise exempt. All told, 21 recommendations were released by Patricia J. Lancaster, commissioner of the Buildings Department. Fifteen would have to be enacted as law, either in the zoning resolution, fire code or building code, which may itself be completely revised, following a model like the International Building Code or one devised by the National Fire Protection Association. Full Story

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