Sunday, February 18, 2007

Fire vs. Steel - the facts

WTC5, 9/13/01, hit by the North Tower and consumed by fire, yet still standing

"Prior to 9/11, no steel-framed buildings had ever collapsed due to fire. On 9/11, three steel-framed buildings collapsed, supposedly due to fire." - you've probably heard something along those lines in the past 5 years.

And you've probably also heard the rebuttal, "The planes hit the buildings, the buildings caught on fire, the buildings collapsed - simple as that."

In fact, some lucky viewers were fed the ‘fire caused the collapse’ line almost immediately after the towers fell...

More recently, the folks at Protec Documentation Services (and/or released a paper late last year, designed to rebut various claims regarding the collapses of the buildings at the WTC complex. And they must be doing something right, because even the US State Department refers skeptical visitors to the ImplosionWorld website...

- -

This post focuses on one single aspect of the Protec/IW paper, specifically Protec's comment in response to Assertion #8 (A steel-framed building has never collapsed due to fire...)

Protec's answer? "The fact is, many steel structures have collapsed due to fire..."


That answer (and the sentences surrounding it) seemed like a weak and/or disingenuous response. The assertion was about 'steel-framed buildings', the rebuttal was regarding 'steel structures', and the author makes no mention of the number or severity of these other fire-caused collapses. So i did some digging, in an effort to discover what these 'many steel structures' might be.

First stop, Fire Protection Engineering's online archive, which has their Historical Survey of Multistory Building Collapses Due to Fire. More of an 'overview' document, really.

And that led me to NIST GCR 02-843.

This report was prepared by Hughes Associates, Inc. under Contract Number NA1341-02-W-0686.

Their data (not included in the fpe article) shows the other two steel structures which, in addition to WTC 1, 2, 5, and 7, make up the total of SIX steel buildings (in all of modern recorded history) which have collapsed due to fire.

1. One New York Plaza (NY, NY, 08/05/70) - partial collapse
50-story office building. Fire caused several steel filler beams on the 33-34th floors to fall and rest on the bottom flanges of their supporting girders.

2. Alexis Nihon Plaza (Montreal, Canada, 10/26/96) - partial collapse
15-story steel-framed office building. Approximately five hours after the fire started, a section of the 11th floor collapsed onto the 10th floor.


The NIST report also goes on to list the many steel-framed buildings that have suffered extensive fire damage and NOT collapsed:

  • One Meridian Plaza -
    38 floors, no sprinklers, 18-hour fire, no collapse.

  • Mercantile Credit Insurance Building -
    12 floors, no sprinklers, fire burnout of floors 8-10, no collapse.

  • Broadgate Phase 8 -
    14 floors, mostly not fire protected, no sprinklers, 4.5-hour fire, temperatures up to 1000C, no collapse.

  • First Interstate Bank -
    62 floors, no sprinklers, 3.5-hour fire, no collapse.

When Brent Blanchard, the author of the Protec/IW paper, wrote that "the fact is, many steel structures have collapsed due to fire", he must've realized that 2/3 of the 'many' structures he was referring to were in fact the WTC buildings themselves.

And he also didn't differentiate between the FULL collapses of WTC 1, 2, and 7 and the PARTIAL collapses of WTC5 and the two examples above.


So again, just to re-state the undebunkable truth, prior to 9/11, no steel-framed building had ever fully collapsed due to fire.

Hope that's clear enough for everyone.


twist said...

Hey, thanks for doing this bit of research. I just picked up Skeptic Mag Vol 12 #4 for its 911 analysis. Hoping I might have some of my biases challenged. Alas, not. Phil Mole's piece mentions the infamous near-free fall collapse speeds, as if he's about to refute or explain, but never does.

Then I get to their extract of Blanchard and his claims, which you took on here.

It's amazing how these people have the knack of whipping up words to make it sound like everything is neat and clear, but when you actually stop to think about it afterwards... poof!



Rabbitvoz said...

Just passing by and using your research to save me d=some time while dealing with 9/11 shills and morons. Your work is appreciated, well done and thanks.

by the way, I'm a Pyrotechnician and explosives expert who knows and always knew that explosives brought down the buildings and either Blanchard is a liar at every level, or he is a complete moron who never even set off a firecracker in his life. His essay, un-referenced bit of spurious claptarp that it is, proved nothing and half of his cherry picked claims are completely false while the other half are never dealt witn at all beyond mentioning them randomly. He says that Protec had people with seismograps and that other seismographic reports exist which they looked at. They never mention these again, no doubt because the seismic reports I've seen show very clearly that explosives appear to have been involved.

Minion4Hire said...

Your post seems somewhat disingenuous.

First the issue of terminology. The NIST report you reference defines collapse thusly:

"Either partial or total failure of the structural framing, members, and/or connections was considered to have constituted a collapse."

If blokes like Blanchard are reference these types of reports and definitions in their own research and publications, then they are quite right in stating that other steel structures have collapsed due to fire. Perhaps it's not the definition you would prefer, but the report you linked to is quite clear as to its intended meaning.

Also, (disregarding my former point) I don't think it's fair to say that "no" steel-framed building has ever collapsed prior to 9/11 by referencing one report by the NIST. By the report's own admission, their fact-finding abilities were limited and hindered by varying factors:

"Commercial news websites did not provide much useful fire data. The one exception was the BBC, from which two major fire-induced collapses were identified. Other news websites did not have powerful search capabilities."


"The US Fire Administration National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) database was general in nature and did not indicate whether structural failures had occurred. It was apparent that within the fire community’s reporting and tabulation of fire events and fatalities, the occurrence of either partial or total collapse of a structure was not specifically recorded or reported."

Varying other sources they reference ( are focused on entirely separate issues (in this case firefighter safety) and would not be documenting or cataloging the types of collapses this report was looking for.

Although they sampled a wide variety of sources, the actual amount of useful information they were able to glean from many of those sources was limited. This does not mean that other steel-framed collapses due to fire have not occurred, only that they were not found or listed by this report.

The following is speculatory of course, but there could have been plenty of reports of steel-framed building collapses they came across while researching, but lacked sufficient information about said collapse to include it in the paper... ie. A news report of a building collapse due to fire known to have a steel frame, but otherwise void or lacking in building-specific details of the event.

They wouldn't bother including the fact that they were able to identify other steel-framed collapses in their research as that wasn't the point of the report; it was on the "Needs and Existing
Capabilities for Full-Scale Fire Resistance Testing". For some reason you failed to clarify that title, but did decide to include who the report was prepared for, as if that somehow makes the report more relevant or credible for your discussion.

I'm all for skepticism, and applaud your efforts, but I don't think one NIST report is the be-all end-all argument of whether steel-framed buildings can or have 'fully' collapsed via fire.

skeptosis said...

interesting comments, minion. and i agree with you in part.

i don't think this one report is the be-all-and-end-all regarding the fire-induced collapses of steel-framed buildings.

with that in mind, there are also these comments:

"The collapse of these structures is particularly significant in that, prior to these events, no protected steel-frame structure, the most common form of large commercial construction in the United States, had ever experienced a fire-induced collapse." (FEMA 403, Executive Summary, page 4)

"...the team is unaware of any protected steel structures that have collapsed in a fire prior to September 11." (FEMA 403, Chap. 1, page 20)

"prior to September 11, there was no record of the fire-induced-collapse of such structures, despite some very large uncontrolled fires."(FEMA 403, Chap. 2, page 38)

"Prior to September 11, 2001, there was little, if any, record of fire-induced collapse of large fire-protected steel buildings." (FEMA 403, Chap. 5, page 1)

"...prior to September 11, 2001, no protected steel frame buildings had been known to collapse due to fire." (FEMA 403, Appendix A, page 9)

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DarkKnightBob said...

"Long time listener. first time caller"

Yeah anyway, how the question to ask is not how many buildings have collapsed from fire but how many buildings have been left to burn from fire. A subtle difference but important because most people when asked about such things can easily picture lots of buildings onfire but few to mind that have collapsed.

The key point is how many buildings have caught fire and been left to burn by the fire brigade? I think you can see the obvious point i'm making here in that if a buildng like 'win 7' is left to burn because of the danger posed to firemen then clearly it's not that hard to imagine how easy it is for a steel structure to collapse.

Most fires DON'T burn out of control and DON'T have a national disaster occouring whilst it'sgoing on.

Anonymous said...

To darkknightbob, I don't u read the entire list that was posted. All the steel buildings (on the list ) burned longer then the WTC buildings. And even if somehow the WTC buildings were to collapse due to fire, they wouldn't fall at near free fall speed. Especially WTC5 and WTC7 who weren't even hit by a plane. I hate how ignorant people somehow think that if they dispute one part of the conspiracy it somehow all falls apart, despite a mountain of evidence that they can't or won't account for.

Anonymous said...

Just out of curiosity, how many of those other buildings were hit by passenger jets?? The claim,"I hate how ignorant people somehow think that if they dispute one part of the conspiracy it somehow all falls apart, despite a mountain of evidence that they can't or won't account for." That goes both ways. I have yet to converse with a conspiracy theorist that is willing to argue all of 9/11. It's like they only concentrate on one aspect of the entire day. Soem do wtc7, other wtc 1&2, some the pentagon, etc. Also, not a one has ever provided any names, dates or any information to back up any claims. Who planted the demolitions? When? Where? How? I'm just saying.

Anonymous said...

Looking aside of the twin towers … how exactly did building 7 collapse entirely when it wasn't even hit by a plane?

mabd said...

Whatever you believe in regarding 9/11 (and anything else, actually!) THIS is the attitude. Excellent research!

Anonymous said...

You talked about a partial collapse from a few buildings, but what about the complete collapse in almost a freefall rate of speed?

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Barry Mead said...

The point here is whatever the clear intent of the wording is, it actually clearly "implies"-referencing as it does,the wtc's-a total collapse. To put in a statement of This is NOT the only collapses due to fire,there are many...Then removes the seeming mystery of having the 1st 2 or 3 in 1 day from fire. The problem here is 1) Debunkers say that if a truther compares the fires to fires hotter and longer burning vs NON collapses-it is not the same building type etc. NOT allowed to use. But they find buildings with partial collapse (NO OTHER BUILDINGS have yet had the TOTAL collapse like wtc 1/2/7 due solely to fire FACT.) And they readily compare them. How can they use buildings NOT THE SAME to validate a hypothesis they favour but anyone else cannot? The truth is Everything nist tested was limited,they refused to release the modelling,they admitted they took minute % as a basis for the findings,said no explosives but did not look,even assumed LOWER fire resistance thickness than they even validated that there was. This is like a murder where we have footage of a stabbing, many say there was gunfire and they got shot. The coroner takes just 1 finger,burns the body then says the knife wound killed the guy and assumed the leather jacket worn was a cotton one and that it was a mortal wound to the heart, then says there was 0 evidence of bullets despite not looking for any nor having enough to test anyway. Then saying all this and refusing to release the evidence they say validates this. Would you be happy to be convicted under such a stringent investigation? Let's be clear. Whether CD or not,procedure was wrong and EVERY pro official version tries to make points that would appear to say it is incontrovertible that the official answer is true. IT IS NOT. It is strewn with flimsy half baked ideas,failures of duty,and a provable cover up of the supposed proof,BY THEIR OWN ADMISSION. sO CAN THEY BE BELIEVED? no

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Patrick Lilley said...

With only two semesters of vector physics under my belt, I might not qualify to hang with the big boys, but if they had started abruptly hauling off truckloads of beams and such the very next day and corrupting a International Crime Scene we would clearly have more evidence.

I arrived at this site, googling WHY IS STEEL IN A SKYSCRAPER EVEN USED IF STEEL WONT MELT FROM OFFICE FIRES? But I arrived here. Intelligent, open minded Americans that don't just have a bumper sticker on their car that says REMEMBER 911. First, we want to know what happened.

Is everyone here aware of Gordon Ross' video in the UK? He shows a photo after the collapse where the inner/inner core was remaining standing. It's a MUST SEE video, especially for those of us not quite up to speed on structural engineering.

He proves that the outer/inner columns were gone in the initial "collapse" and they were much heavier and stronger than the inner/inner columns. Why would the weaker columns survive and the stronger columns "collapse".

Now, I use the word collapse, but these inner columns were found as far out as 300 feet. So let's say we have an center core column from the 55th floor found 280 feet from its starting place. Now when it was ejected laterally, it wasn't into thin air. It was shot through the debris of 55 floors from above. I mean there's the Luther shells, the floor trusses, concrete, desks and sadly humans.

It's easy physics to determine how much thrust it would take to heave one of these beams 280 feet in a vacuum (never mind the enourmous debris).

What in the universe could cause such a thrust? Air pressure ? The building was air tight. But not after it started falling? Other debris hitting it and shooting it sideways? I doubt it. The beams were cut conveniently at the same lengths that they arrived on site at. Every beam was cut at its weld spot, every third floor. They delivered them that way because they fit on flat bed trucks that way. And that's how they were hauled off.

Look at the explosions in slow motion. They are happening at every third floor, not every floor. One guy said he worked there for months and the largest discernible piece of office furniture he ever found was a half of a telephone keypad.

You know what scares me the most? That the American people can watch a building being exploded to bits right in front of their eyes, and then wait to be told what they just saw. That, by God , scares me to no end. I saw explosions, I know they were explosions, firefighters saw and heard explosions, Richard Rogriguez witnessed explosions, there are YouTube videos of explosions, the media and the FBImwas reporting explosions. NIST starts with, there were NO explosions. And 2/3rds of Americans believe them?

Oh my God.

Patrick Lilley said...

Sorry to double dip. How engineering departments with sound science can disagree is beyond me. Purdue makes a computer generation of the plane crashing into the building and slicing all this stuff in half. Other than what looked like a single 5 ton jet rotor, did anything else come out the other side? NO. Nothing. No parts of the plane came busting out the other side. Im yet amazed that even the 4 inch wing tips cut right through the steel exterior. But Perdue actually has the nose of the plane hitting a section of floor. My point is, that a lightweight aluminum plane is shredded and exploded into fragments. YouTube shows a big heavy cargo plane crash landing (via remote control ) and its wings clip two telephone poles sized wooden poles. The wooden poles slice right through the wings and tear the wing to shreds. But these wings went right through the one side of the tower like butter and didn't come out the other side. SHREDDED TO PIECES. It didn't cut any 14 inch box columns.

One commenter above says," you conveniently leave out the fact that the towers had been hit by planes". yes, they had been hit by planes, and those planes were shredded to pieces.

Now you've heard the saying that nothing changes until something changes, right? OK, let's assume this lightweight aluminum plane hits the 85th floor of the trade center and cuts the core colimns in half. Forget the telephone pole test and common sense, it just tears the core to shreds.

Well, then the floors above it fall immediately. It either falls when it's hit, or it doesn't fall whe it's hit. I'll help you some. Let's say the planes cut half the cores in half and then a 200 MPH wind comes and the remaining cores can't handle it. Maybe an earthquake shutters it. But something has to happen NEXT for them to fall, maybe another plane has to hit it. But fire?

We can't go with fire. We just can't do it. UL tested it, recreated it in a lab and the floors drooped 3 inches but didn't come close to failing.

Lastly, if the plane sliced through, cut some columns and the ensuing fires caused the remaining floors to fall, do you know where they be today? Sitting right there on the 85th floor. Maybe the impact would have crushed a few floors, but all the way to the ground?

That skyscraper was built with 5 times redundancy. Built to withstand 5 times its own weight.

There you go, sir. Planes hit the buildings and they didn't fall as a result.

Lastly, the Bush Government should have said "we don't know how they did it, but the terrorists put bombs in the building too... That would have been infinitely more believable. Just add that to the long, long list of "lack of imagination".

Don't just remember 911. Please don't ever stop talking about it. The author of this blogger said that part of the reason for this blog was to prevent another 911. Trust me when I say that had it not been for some very brave, very persistent, very honorable people like himself keeping the HEAT on the last 911, OS exactly what has prevented another one.

Because they haven't gotten away with this one yet. If another 911 event happens, no matter what, I'm going there. They WILL NOT GET AWAY WITH ANOTHER ONE.

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Anonymous said...

Actually, there are several documentaries which explain that some floors of the wtc had been "suddenly" renovated about a year prior. All areas renovated were either fed govt offices or organizations directly working with the feds. I agree that individuals often focus on a single aspect but I believe that this is b/c of their expertise or chosen research. You too are guilty as you write them off for focusing on one aspect as you do the same. How do you explain a free fall collapse? Why did building 7 collapse since it wasnt struck? Secondary damage? Then why did the rest of the wtc complex not collapse? Why did Bush remain in the school for 20 min after? Protocol said he should have been immediately wisked away. How did george see news coverage of tower 1 when footage was not released of the strike until much later? Where were the jet fighters that protect the east coast? All were doing drills? All? How did a 747 fly within 10 feet of the ground b4 hitting the pentagon? Why was the hole in the pentagon obviously so much smaller than a 747? If the intense heat can cause a steel frame structure collapse, why wasnt Much more of the pentagon destroyed?

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