Building  Owners  and  Managers  Association  International

Building Owners and Managers Association International

BOMA Security FAQs

Are skyscrapers structurally sound? Why did the World Trade Center buildings collapse?

From the National Council of Structural Engineers Association:
September 11, 2001

According to one of the designers of the World Trade Center (WTC), the towers were originally designed to take the impact of a Boeing 707; and the impact of the aircraft this morning did not take the buildings down. In fact, WTC One stood for 1 hour and WTC Two stood for 1 3/4 hours after impact. Engineers familiar with the chain of events suspect that heat from the massive and extraordinary fires weakened the structures and initiated the progressive collapses.

John Hooper, a structural engineer from Skilling, Ward, Magnusson, Barkshire, the structural engineering firm that evolved from Skilling, Helle, Christianson, Robertson, which was the structural engineering firm of record for the WTC, provided the following facts to NCSEA: WTC One was 1368' tall, and WTC Two was 1362' tall. Each 110-story tower had a floor plate that was 208' by 208'. The central core of each was 86' square. Around the perimeter of the buildings, columns were spaced at 3'-3" on center, with 48"- deep plate girders at each floor. At the third level, the columns transitioned in an arch-like formation to a 10'-0" spacing for the lower story. Floors were supported by steel trusses spanning 60', from the core to the perimeter wall, on each side of the building. The buildings are also thought to have been the first buildings to use non-asbestos fireproofing. The fibers of the spray-on fireproofing product were reportedly ceramic rather than asbestos.

NCSEA has contacted FEMA and will coordinate and make available structural engineers in the New York and Washington D.C. areas. NCSEA will also coordinate and provide the services of Member Structural Engineering Associations throughout the U.S., as needed.

The National Council of Structural Engineers Associations is extremely saddened with the day's news, including the collapse of the World Trade Center in New York City. Our hearts and prayers go out to all the victims and their families.

How can we prepare for possible future terrorism attacks?

From the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Online Fact Sheet:

Learn about the nature of terrorism.
· Terrorists often choose targets that offer little danger to themselves and areas with relatively easy public access.
· Foreign terrorists look for visible targets where they can avoid detection before or after an attack such as international airports, large cities, major international events, resorts, and high-profile landmarks.
Learn about the different types of terrorist weapons including explosives, kidnappings, hijackings, arson, and shootings.
Prepare to deal with a terrorist incident by adapting many of the same techniques used to prepare for other crises.
· Be alert and aware of the surrounding area. The very nature of terrorism suggests that there may be little or no warning.
· Take precautions when traveling. Be aware of conspicuous or unusual behavior. Do not accept packages from strangers. Do not leave luggage unattended.
· Learn where emergency exists are located. Think ahead about how to evacuate a building, subway or congested public area in a hurry. Learn where staircases are located.
· Notice your immediate surroundings. Be aware of heavy or breakable objects that could move, fall or break in an explosion.
Preparing for a Building Explosion
The use of explosives by terrorists can result in collapsed buildings and fires. People who live or work in a multi-level building can do the following:
· Review emergency evacuation procedures. Know where fire exits are located.
· Keep fire extinguishers in working order. Know where they are located, and how to use them. Learn first aid. Contact the local chapter of the American Red Cross for additional information.
· Keep the following items in a designated place on each floor of the building.
· Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
· Several flashlights and extra batteries
· First aid kit and manual
· Several hard hats
· Fluorescent tape to rope off dangerous areas
Bomb Threats
If you receive a bomb threat, get as much information from the caller as possible. Keep the caller on the line and record everything that is said. Notify the police and the building management.
After you've been notified of a bomb threat, do not touch any suspicious packages. Clear the area around the suspicious package and notify the police immediately. In evacuating a building, avoid standing in front of windows or other potentially hazardous areas. Do not restrict sidewalk or streets to be used by emergency officials.

In a building explosion, get out of the building as quickly and calmly as possible.
If items are falling off of bookshelves or from the ceiling, get under a sturdy table or desk. If there is a fire.
· Stay low to the floor and exit the building as quickly as possible.
· Cover nose and mouth with a wet cloth.
· When approaching a closed door, use the palm of your hand and forearm to feel the lower, middle and upper parts of the door. If it is not hot, brace yourself against the door and open it slowly. If it is hot to the touch, do not open the door--seek an alternate escape route.
· Heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect first along the ceiling. Stay below the smoke at all times.

If you are trapped in debris:
· Use a flashlight.
· Stay in your area so that you don't kick up dust. Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
· Tap on a pipe or wall so that rescuers can hear where you are. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort--shouting can cause a person to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
Assisting Victims:
· Untrained persons should not attempt to rescue people who are inside a collapsed building. Wait for emergency personnel to arrive.
Chemical Agents:
Chemical agents are poisonous gases, liquids or solids that have toxic effects on people, animals or plants. Most chemical agents cause serious injuries or death.
Severity of injuries depends on the type and amount of the chemical agent used, and the duration of exposure.
Were a chemical agent attack to occur, authorities would instruct citizens to either seek shelter where they are and seal the premises or evacuate immediately. Exposure to chemical agents can be fatal. Leaving the shelter to rescue or assist victims can be a deadly decision. There is no assistance that the untrained can offer that would likely be of any value to the victims of chemical agents.
Biological Agents:
Biological agents are organisms or toxins that have illness-producing effects on people, livestock and crops.
Because biological agents cannot necessarily be detected and may take time to grow and cause a disease, it is almost impossible to know that a biological attack has occurred. If government officials become aware of a biological attack through an informant or warning by terrorists, they would most likely instruct citizens to either seek shelter where they are and seal the premises or evacuate immediately.
A person affected by a biological agent requires the immediate attention of professional medical personnel. Some agents are contagious, and victims may need to be quarantined. Also, some medical facilities may not receive victims for fear of contaminating the hospital population.

What can I do to help?

From The Washington Post:
In Washington, DC:
Washington Hospital Center and the Inova Health System have issued urgent appeals for blood to meet the needs of those injured in the attacks. To donate blood at Washington Hospital Center, call 202-877-5250. To donate blood at Inova, call 703-698-3885.
Inova also is keeping its main Woodburn blood donor site open 24 hours a day for the foreseeable future. The site is at 3289 Woodburn Rd., one block south of Inova Fairfax Hospital. No appointment is necessary.
The Anne Arundel Medical Center has established a blood donor hot line (410-280-6520) and extended its blood donation hours. Hours will be 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Friday.
A previously scheduled blood drive will be held today at the Silver Spring Red Cross office, 2020 East West Hwy. in Silver Spring. It will begin at 9 a.m.
The National Institutes of Health blood bank is also accepting donations. Donors can go to the south entrance of the clinical center, Building 10, on the NIH campus in Rockville. Call 301-496-1048 before going to NIH.
In New York:
The New York Blood Center has also issued an urgent appeal for blood. You can find a nearby blood center by consulting the Web site of the American Association of Blood Banks at or call 866-FROMYOU or 866-376-6968. Call the local center before going there to donate.
Potential donors may also contact the local Red Cross facility or call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE to make a Red Cross appointment.

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