Editor’s Note

We are pleased to bring you this very special issue, devoted exclusively to comprehensive coverage of one of the largest and most complex responses in fire service history’—the World Trade Center explosion and fire in February of this year. We present such thorough reporting not only to provide historical documentation of the incident but to share many important lessons that will benefit the fire service for years to come. The lessons learned in this incident have broad implications for every fire department.

This report represents a very large slice of the WTC pie. W’e provide insight into the fire extinguishment, search, rescue, and evacuation operations conducted by the fire department, which met the challenge with the equivalent of a 16-alarm response; the massive EMS effort that provided treatment of more than 1,000 injured occupants; building construction and fire protection features, the restoration process, and postincident enhancements; the emergency evacuation of the disabled; the physical effects of explosives on our buildings; security countermeasures to terrorism; and more.

The 24-plus authors who participated in the effort have intimate knowledge of the subject. They were carefully chosen for their roles in the response that day, their intimacy with the W’orld Trade Center complex on a daily basis, and/or their expertise in their specialized fields.

As you read this report, remember a few key points:

Size is relative. While die magnitude of this response was overw helming, fire departments everywhere, big and small, face the potential of their own “World Trade Center” every day. Flan for it.

“Incident command system” are not just three fancy buzzwords. Any department that is not practicing some form of ICS for the everyday, “routine” incidents may find itself in trouble should fate mark it for “the Big One.”

Terrorism is a very real threat around the world. No community, no fire department should feel immune to the threat Fire departments can take many actions and form many professional and interagency alliances that will reduce the magnitude of disaster if it occurs.

Fire protection and security concerns for public buildings are linked by terrorism. The terrorist threat demands close interaction between design fire protection engineers, security consultants, and the fire department.

Our codemaking bodies must be more aware of and responsive to human behavior in emergencies—after all, codes exist in large measure to protect people. Our “nuts and bolts” approach must be tempered to a degree to anticipate the actions of people in a worst-case scenario, such as in this case, when 50,000 people determined it was time to self-cvacuate.

Many thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this special issue a success.

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