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NY Daily News 1/4/2002
By JOE CALDERONE Daily News Chief of Investigations
"A respected firefighting trade magazine with ties to the city Fire Department is calling for a "full-throttle, fully resourced" investigation into the collapse of the World Trade Center. A signed editorial in the January issue of Fire Engineering magazine says the current investigation is "a half-baked farce." The piece by Bill Manning, editor of the 125-year-old monthly that frequently publishes technical studies of major fires, also says the steel from the site should be preserved so investigators can examine what caused the collapse. "Did they throw away the locked doors from the Triangle Shirtwaist fire? Did they throw away the gas can used at the Happy Land social club fire? ... That's what they're doing at the World Trade Center," the editorial says. "The destruction and removal of evidence must stop immediately." Fire Engineering counted FDNY Deputy Chief Raymond Downey, the department's chief structural expert, among its senior advisers. Downey was killed in the Sept. 11 attack. John Jay College's fire engineering expert, Prof. Glenn Corbett, serves as the magazine's technical editor.
A group of engineers from the American Society of Civil Engineers, with backing from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has been studying some aspects of the collapse. But Manning and others say that probe has not looked at all aspects of the disaster and has had limited access to documents and other evidence. A growing number of fire protection engineers have theorized that "the structural damage from the planes and the explosive ignition of jet fuel in themselves were not enough to bring down the towers," the editorial stated. A FEMA spokesman, John Czwartacki, said agency officials had not yet seen the editorial and declined to comment. Norida Torriente, a spokeswoman for the American Society of Civil Engineers, described her group's study as a "beginning" and "not a definitive work." Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has joined a group of relatives of firefighters who died in the attack in calling for a blue-ribbon panel to study the collapse. "We have to learn from incidents through investigation to determine what types of codes should be in place and what are the best practices for high-rise construction," Manning told the Daily News. "The World Trade Center is not the only lightweight, core construction high-rise in the U.S. It's a typical method of construction."
NY TIMES -City Had Been Warned of Fuel Tank at 7 World Trade Center-December 20, 2001
"Fire Department officials warned the city and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in 1998 and 1999 that a giant diesel fuel tank for the mayor's $13 million command bunker in 7 World Trade Center, a 47-story high-rise that burned and collapsed on Sept. 11, posed a hazard and was not consistent with city fire codes. The 6,000-gallon tank was positioned about 15 feet above the ground floor and near several lobby elevators and was meant to fuel generators that would supply electricity to the 23rd-floor bunker in the event of a power failure. Although the city made some design changes to address the concerns - moving a fuel pipe that would have run from the tank up an elevator shaft, for example - it left the tank in place. But the Fire Department repeatedly warned that a tank in that position could spread fumes throughout the building if it leaked, or, if it caught fire, could produce what one Fire Department memorandum called "disaster."
December 25, 2001 THE TOWERS
Experts Urging Broader Inquiry in Towers' Fall
"In calling for a new investigation, some structural engineers have said that one serious mistake has already been made in the chaotic aftermath of the collapses: the decision to rapidly recycle the steel columns, beams and trusses that held up the buildings. That may have cost investigators some of their most direct physical evidence with which to try to piece together an answer. Officials in the mayor's office declined to reply to written and oral requests for comment over a three- day period about who decided to recycle the steel and the concern that the decision might be handicapping the investigation...Interviews with a handful of members of the team, which includes some of the nation's most respected engineers, also uncovered complaints that they had at various times been shackled with bureaucratic restrictions that prevented them from interviewing witnesses, examining the disaster site and requesting crucial information like recorded distress calls to the police and fire departments..."This is almost the dream team of engineers in the country working on this, and our hands are tied," said one team member who asked not to be identified. Members have been threatened with dismissal for speaking to the press. "FEMA is controlling everything," the team member said...Dr. Frederick W. Mowrer, an associate professor in the fire protection engineering department at the University of Maryland, said he believed the decision could ultimately compromise any investigation of the collapses. "I find the speed with which potentially important evidence has been removed and recycled to be appalling," Dr. Mowrer said. "
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