President Signs Bill Granting Commerce’s NIST New Authorities to Investigate Major Building Failures

President Bush yesterday signed into law The National Construction Safety Team Act, which creates a new building failure investigation response team and protocol within the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The legislation had been introduced to correct the problems of coordination and authority that had plagued a FEMA-sponsored “Building Performance Assessment” of the World Trade Center disaster.

Fire Engineering Technical Editor Glenn Corbett, who last spring twice testified before the House Committee on Science on the World Trade Center disaster, encouraged the development of a much more comprehensive national disaster investigation response protocol which has now seen fruition in the form of this legislation. Commenting on the passage of the legislation, Corbett said, “This is a landmark event in the history of disaster investigations. We will now have a team on technical experts on the scene of a major building failure within 48 hours of the incident. They will have the authority to thoroughly investigate the incident and to develop specfic recommendations for improvements in our codes, building design practices, as well as emergency evacuation and emergency response. The fire service will benefit from this legislation as has the transportation industry for many years as a result of the efforts of the National Transporation Safety Board.”

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