Wednesday, December 26, 2007

reading the fine print of FEMA 403

[fine print - click to read]

FEMA's World Trade Center Building Performance Study (a.k.a. FEMA 403) was first released in May 2002. It is available in the sidebar on the right-hand side of this page, which links to FEMA's online collection of PDFs. But if you order a CD of the Study from FEMA's site, you'll receive the Second Printing of FEMA 403, from September of 2002. I haven't been through them both for the sake of page-to-page comparison, but one obvious difference is the addition of a disclaimer (excerpted above) to page 2 of the Table of Contents.

Normally disclaimers are no big deal. Websites use them to say 'we're not responsible for the content of third-party links'. Companies use them to say 'we're not responsible for your misuse of our product'. But this one strikes me as particularly odd. Considering that the purpose and scope of FEMA 403 included "determining the probable causes of collapse" (FEMA 403, Chapter 1, page 1) of the Twin Towers, and that the resulting documents bear the seal of FEMA and the logo of the American Society of Civil Engineers, it's somewhat disconcerting to see that "The U.S. Government, FEMA, and other Federal agencies assume no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information herein."

So it really doesn't matter if FEMA misrepresented the true size of the core columns in WTC 1 & 2, or didn't sufficiently explain the collapse mechanism(s), or referred to the unique collapse of WTC 7 as an "implosion" (FEMA 403, Chapter 5, page 31), because they're not responsible for the contents of their own report.

CYA at its finest.

Sunday, December 02, 2007