Dec 17, 2001
Frederic Mowrer, an associate professor of fire protection engineering at the University of Maryland, is one of the people leading the federal inquiry into the collapse of the World Trade Center. Mowrer recently released information indicating that inadequate or faulty fireproofing in both towers, which had gone unrepaired, probably contributed to the crash of the towers – or at least speeded it up.
There are 1,200 photos, made during more than 10 years, that show fireproofing in both towers had peeled off or had been inadequately installed. Large areas of the core columns had no fireproofing at all.
When a big sky scraper like the World Trade Center is built, the steel in the building is coated with fireproofing made of mineral fibers and concrete-like material called binders. This material is designed to insulate the steel in the event of a fire, to prevent it from heating and becoming too soft to support a load.
Even if the fireproofing had been perfectly in place, perhaps it wouldn’t have prevented the collapse of the towers, but, according to Mowrer, it probably would have taken longer to collapse. That would have allowed many more people to escape.
Where are the political authorities now? Why aren’t they denouncing the fire department and buildings department which let the WTC get away with not maintaining safety protections? Why doesn’t today’s “hero,” Rudolph Guiliani, the mayor of New York, demand an immediate investigation of those responsible – himself first of all?
Certainly the towers would not have collapsed without the terrorist attack. But the extremely poor fireproofing left the towers a fire trap in the event of any fire or explosion.
Buildings are no stronger than their weakest point, and this point was not only the fireproofing but their operation and control by a system that puts profits first.