plans safer skyscrapers
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
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
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.
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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