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Fire Technology

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 679–707 | Cite as

Reconstruction of the Fires and Thermal Environment in World Trade Center Buildings 1, 2, and 7

  • Richard G. Gann
  • Anthony Hamins
  • Kevin McGrattan
  • Harold E. Nelson
  • Thomas J. Ohlemiller
  • Kuldeep R. Prasad
  • William M. Pitts
Article

Abstract

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conducted an extensive investigation of the collapse of the three tall World Trade Center (WTC) buildings. A central part of this investigation was the reconstruction and understanding of the initiation and spread of the fires. This paper describes the reconstruction of the fires, the thermal environment they created within the buildings, and the raising of the temperatures of the structural components. NIST analyzed thousands of documents, interviews, photographs, and videos to obtain information on the layout of the floors and the progress of the fires. Experiments provided information on the factors likely to have determined the fire growth. Simulations using the Fire Dynamics Simulator gave good agreement with the fire spread as observed at the windows. Imposition of the probable thermal environment on the structural steel produced maps of the probable temperature profile of the steel as the fires progressed. For WTC 1 and WTC 2, even in the vicinity of the fires, it was unlikely that the columns and floor trusses with intact insulation heated to temperatures where significant loss of strength occurred. This was in part due to the short time between aircraft impact and building collapse. There were regions of the towers in which the loss of structural strength of floors and columns, whose insulation had been damaged by aircraft impact, was likely. For WTC 7, even though the insulation was intact, the long periods of heating resulted in floor components whose temperatures exceeded 600°C, but columns did not exceed 300°C.

Keywords

Fire Fire modeling Fire model validation Fire safety Fire test World Trade Center 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC (Outside the USA) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard G. Gann
    • 1
  • Anthony Hamins
    • 1
  • Kevin McGrattan
    • 1
  • Harold E. Nelson
    • 1
  • Thomas J. Ohlemiller
    • 1
  • Kuldeep R. Prasad
    • 1
  • William M. Pitts
    • 1
  1. 1.Fire Research Division, Engineering LaboratoryNational Institute of Standards and TechnologyGaithersburgUSA

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