NY plans safer skyscrapers 
Saturday, 3 August, 2002, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
By Jane Standley

Officials in New York are putting together a wide-reaching plan to change the city's building codes to make its skyscrapers safer.

The plan is being put together by fire officials, engineers and property experts, and is one of the first steps towards changing the construction and operation of high-rise buildings since the collapse of the World Trade Center.

The list of potential changes would be New York's most comprehensive for 30 years.

Anything that has a cost attached to it will meet with some resistance. But it is literally the difference between life and death for people caught in a high-rise fire. It is just something that has to be done.
Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta, quoted in the New York Times 
It would force buildings to have much better evacuation procedures - for thousands of people rather than for just those who work on a few floors.

Owners would be made to put fluorescent markings on stairwells and to build special rescue areas for people to take shelter in while they wait for the emergency services.

The reliability of radio communications within high rises would have to be improved and older skyscrapers would be made to install sprinkler systems.

It is also likely that far more stringent building standards would be set so that high rises can withstand destruction longer - and sustain the collapse of more than the three floors which is the current standard.

Property lobby

Fire officials have hailed the ideas as long overdue but are warning that even after the collapse of the World Trade Center, buildings which cost more money always prove unpopular and do not get built.

Property developers are already lobbying against the new code.

But they will meet vocal resistance from relatives of the people who died when the Twin Towers collapsed - some of whom have formed a campaign group to press for safer skyscrapers.


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