New York City activist

November 29, 2007

WTC 7: FEMA report and NIST prelim report: What about pre-collapse leaning and the transit???

Over the next week or two I plan to write a series of posts about WTC 7, culminating in the promised detailed explanation of why I think WTC 7’s collapse most likely wasn’t purely “natural,” i.e. why I think it most likely wasn’t caused just by debris damage plus subseequent (non-arson) fires. But first, in this and the next few posts, I’ll look at the official reports plus some other stuff that various defenders of the official story have asked me to read.

I’m now studying both of the following:


Both these reports include time lines of events leading up to the collapse of WTC 7, starting with what happened to the Twin Towers. Both reports, especially the NIST interim report, contain photos and summaries of witness observations of structural damage to WTC 7 and subsequent fires. It would be nice if the witnesses were actually named, quoted, and sourced. Hopefully that will be done in NIST’s final report on WTC 7?

I notice something very weird. In neither the FEMA report nor the interim NIST report have I found any mention of any of the pre-collapse observations that led fire fighters to conclude, a few hours before collapse, that WTC 7 was unstable and likely to collapse soon. According to this interview with Deputy Fire Chief Peter Hayden, from the April 2002 Firehouse Magazine:

Firehouse: Chief Nigro said they made a collapse zone and wanted everybody away from number 7; did you have to get all of those people out?
Hayden: Yeah, we had to pull everybody back. It was very difficult. We had to be very forceful in getting the guys out. They didn’t want to come out. There were guys going into areas that I wasn’t even really comfortable with, because of the possibility of secondary collapses. We didn’t know how stable any of this area was. We pulled everybody back probably by 3 or 3:30 in the afternoon. We said, this building is going to come down, get back

Hayden is also quoted as saying:

By now, this is going on into the afternoon, and we were concerned about additional collapse, not only of the Marriott, because there was a good portion of the Marriott still standing, but also we were pretty sure that 7 World Trade Center would collapse. Early on, we saw a bulge in the southwest corner between floors 10 and 13, and we had put a transit on that and we were pretty sure she was going to collapse. You actually could see there was a visible bulge, it ran up about three floors. It came down about 5 o�clock in the afternoon, but by about 2 o�clock in the afternoon we realized this thing was going to collapse.

What sorts of movements, if any, were observed via the transit instrument during the three hours before collapse? If indeed WTC 7 collapsed naturally, one would think these observations would be highly relevant to any analysis of the collapse.

Another, closely related, also very strange thing: Near the bottom of this page about WTC 7 on the website of one very vehement defender of the OCT, there is a video which is introduced as follows: “Here is a first responder with Building 7 in the background during an interview. Note the frustration in his voice because he can’t do anything for the building.” Then, just below the video, there’s the following quote:

First responder: “You see where the white smoke is? You see this thing leaning like this? It’s definitely coming down. There’s no way to stop it. Cause you have to go up in there to put it out and it already – the structural integrity is just not there in the building. It’s tough, it’s.. it’s.. You know we can handle just about anything, this is beyond…

I, for one, am very curious to know more about this “leaning.” When did the building start leaning, and how far, and, most importantly, in what direction? (I would guess south, or maybe southwest or southeast, but it would be nice to confirm this.)

But there is no mention, in either the FEMA report or the preliminary NIST report, of any such leaning or tilting before collapse. Why not? Again, one would think that this information would be exceedingly relevant to an analysis of the collapse. Surely it would yield some good clues as to what, if anything, was failing inside the building.

Speaking of leaning, I find no mention, in either the FEMA report or the prelim NIST report, of how far and in what direction the building was leaning during collapse, either. I would think that that would provide some important clues too.

Of course, I suppose it’s possible that the folks at NIST just weren’t aware of these pieces of information when they wrote the 2004 interim report. Maybe someone should email them and make sure they are aware of these things now?

I’m not sure, though, whether this information would make NIST’s job easier or harder. Somehow, I suspect the latter….

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18 Comments »

  1. Defenders tried to post the transit instrument claim on wikipedia once and when I followed up on it, it seemed to only come from a caption to a photograph, with no actual reference that any transit was used at B7 or produced any conclusive findings.

    I’ve also always found it bizarre that there are no photographs of the massive fires, bulges, leanings, or other witness observations we read about, no photographs of the key areas at key times at all.

    Like we always say, please release all the data . . .

    Comment by reader21 — November 30, 2007 @ 2:47 am | Reply

  2. reader21 wrote:

    Defenders tried to post the transit instrument claim on wikipedia once and when I followed up on it, it seemed to only come from a caption to a photograph, with no actual reference that any transit was used at B7 or produced any conclusive findings.

    Do you happen to have a link to that photo handy? I would be very interested to see it.

    In my post above, I quoted a different source, namely this interview with Deputy Fire Chief Peter Hayden, from the April 2002 em>Firehouse Magazine. Here, the transit is mentioned in a statement by Hayden (which I quoted) in the text of the interview. Are you aware of that source too?

    I’ve also always found it bizarre that there are no photographs of the massive fires, bulges, leanings, or other witness observations we read about, no photographs of the key areas at key times at all.

    The absence of photos is actually not so strange, for the following reasons:

    Since the fires and structural damage were mostly on the south side, i.e. the side nearest the rest of the WTC complex, anyone photographing it would have to have been either standing on top of a rubble pile (where not too many, if any, photographers would likely have been standing) or up in a helicopter. The NIST interim report also says that the south side was obscured by smoke, another thing which made photographs difficult from that side. The NIST interim report also says there was a northwest wind, which, if true, would make photographs relatively easy from the north and from the west.

    If indeed the building was leaning before collapse, my guess is that the leaning may have been too slight to be noticeable in a normal photograph, which is why I’d sure like to see that “transit” data.

    Like we always say, please release all the data . . .

    We should not dismiss, out of hand, the possibility that NIST might not have all the data. They’re not omniscient. Just to make sure they do know about this particular issue, I think perhaps one of us should email them links to both the Firehouse interview and the above-mentioned video and ask them to contact the FDNY about this matter, if they have not done so already.

    Like I said, though, I have a sneaking hunch that this info will make NIST’s job harder, not easier….

    And it is very strange, though not impossible, that they would have missed this particular info earlier.

    (What I actually suspect, although I certainly don’t know this to be the case yet, is that NIST may have known about this info all along, but that they may have chosen to bury it because it might be inconvenient in terms of their collapse hypothesis. For example, if the building were leaning slightly toward the southwest, this might be expected to take some weight offf the east side, reducing the likelihood of a horizontal progressive collapse beginning in the east, as per NIST’s collapse hypothesis. I suspect that, whenever the final NIST report on WTC 7 does come out, the transit data may turn out to be buried in an appendix to a sub-report of an appendix to a sub-sub-sub report, or something.)

    Comment by Diane — November 30, 2007 @ 4:38 am | Reply

  3. Diane, I suspect (but don’t know) there is no transit data per se. It seems likely to me that what they do is fix the transit on some identifiable location on the building, like the corner of a particular window, and then check back periodically to see if there’s any evidence of movement. If there is, then they know the building’s in severe trouble and they pull the firefighters and clear a collapse zone.

    In another comment you asked for some sources to the firefighters’ accounts of that day. Here is the NY Times’ page on the oral histories:

    LINK

    Unfortunately those are mostly in PDF format, which means you can’t cut and paste quotes easily. A friend of ours named Jay tackled the monumental task of transcribing all those oral accounts and putting them here:

    http://jay-911.blogspot.com/

    The advantage of this is that not only can you find (say) Chief Nigro’s account, but you can find every place where somebody else references Nigro. For some reason, the search feature at the top left works better than the one in the right sidebar. Unfortunately Peter Hayden doesn’t mention anything about WTC-7 or the transit in his oral history, probably because the focus of that investigation was on the problems that led to the firefighter deaths in the Twin Towers.

    EMS Chief John Peruggia’s statement is particularly interesting; I strongly recommend reading it.

    Comment by patslc — November 30, 2007 @ 6:24 pm | Reply

  4. patslc (Pat Curley) wrote:

    Diane, I suspect (but don’t know) there is no transit data per se. It seems likely to me that what they do is fix the transit on some identifiable location on the building, like the corner of a particular window, and then check back periodically to see if there’s any evidence of movement. If there is, then they know the building’s in severe trouble and they pull the firefighters and clear a collapse zone.

    Even if that’s true, one would think that anyone analyzing the collapse of a building would be interested in learning about the first signs of impending collapse, as these might provide some important clues. At the very least, I would think it would be helpful to know what direction the building was leaning, even if no magnitude data are available. In any case, it surprises me that the early warning signs of impending collapse are not even mentioned in the NIST interim report’s “Observations of Structural Collapse,” or in the FEMA report either.

    In another comment you asked for some sources to the firefighters’ accounts of that day. Here is the NY Times’ page on the oral histories:

    [LINK]

    Unfortunately those are mostly in PDF format, which means you can’t cut and paste quotes easily. A friend of ours named Jay tackled the monumental task of transcribing all those oral accounts and putting them here:

    http://jay-911.blogspot.com/

    EMS Chief John Peruggia’s statement is particularly interesting; I strongly recommend reading it.

    Indeed Peruggia’s statement (on this page) is very interesting. Among other things, Peruggia says:

    Some engineer type person, and several of us were huddled talking in the lobby and it was brought to my attention, it was believed that the structural damage that was suffered to the towers was quite significant and they were very confident that the building’s stability was compromised and they felt that the north tower was in danger of a near imminent collapse.

    But also:

    We were always told by everyone, the experts, that these buildings could withstand direct hits from airplanes. That’s the way they were designed. They went through all of this architectural stuff, way beyond the scope of my knowledge. It was hit by an airplane. That’s okay. It’s made to be hit by an airplane. I mean I think everyone may have believed that. We were all told years ago it was made to be hit by an airplane.

    It’s interesting that the North Tower was expected to come down, but not the South Tower. Of course, the fires were worse in the North Tower.

    Anyhow, when the South Tower came down, it appears that WTC 7 was damaged even by that, although probably not to as great a degree as the later damage due to the North Tower coming down. According to Peruggia:

    The next thing that I remember was that I was covered in some glass and some debris. Everything came crashing through the front of number 7. It was totally pitch black.

    … there was a lot of rubble in the lobby, probably a few feet. The facade was all broken

    Very interesting. Thanks for posting this.

    Comment by Diane — December 3, 2007 @ 3:03 am | Reply

  5. Yes, I think the transit source was the same one you mention.

    >>we had put a transit on that and we were pretty sure she was going to collapse.

    Unfortunately we can’t conclude anything from this except that he thought it was going to collapse. My guess would be that the transit didn’t contribute to the understanding or it would seem that he would have said that the transit suggested it was going to come down. but the only references I’ve ever seen are that they say they put one on it, not that it ever gave a reading.

    Here’s a related description, only it was on the 13th, not the 11th. But it does establish the fuzzy nature of the “transit” readings, unable to provide a direction even 2 days after the events —

    Rescue teams also used defense technologies to assess the structural soundness of nearby buildings.

    Peter Lacko, electrical engineer for Cecom’s Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate at Fort Belvoir, Va., was called in to help monitor Building 4 – located about 20 yards from the collapsed towers.

    A local construction survey company was managing “transits” to measure the building’s movements. Transits are used to measure grade and elevation electronically. They were fixed on a point on the side of the building and checked about every five minutes to see if the building had moved, Lacko said. But the transits could give inaccurate readings because they were unable to filter out vibrations from heavy machinery or other factors in the area.

    The readings caused numerous false alarms that required areas to be evacuated for hours at a time. “The search and rescue folks were on for 20 minutes and then off for two to three hours,” Albarelli said.

    Lacko’s team used laser Doppler vibrometers, which send out laser signals that hit pieces of reflective tape and then beam signals back that help workers determine the vibrational frequency of the structure, he said. The tool sits on a tripod and is about 5 inches tall and 12 inches long.

    “The laser Doppler vibrometer measures a building’s frequency and whether it’s vibrating five times a second, or if it moved six micrometers or six centimeters,” Lacko said. “It determines how much it’s actually moving and at what frequency.

    Rescuers were able to home in on the building’s frequency because it was different from the ones created by heavy machinery and jackhammers, he said.

    The laser Doppler vibrometer was set up about 20 feet from the transit station – where the air horn used to alert personnel of a work stoppage was also kept – and the two tools were used together to help eliminate false alarms. “It gave all the workers in and around that point better security at the time as to whether that building was going to come down,” Lacko said. “There was more technology on site to determine if the building was stable. Several different workers thanked us for coming.”

    Lacko’s team was on the site around-the-clock until Sept. 25. “The building was very stable the whole time we were there,” and it remained that way until construction crews demolished it, Lacko said. ”
    http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/news/2002/020916-fcw2.htm

    Comment by reader21 — December 3, 2007 @ 6:18 am | Reply

  6. In a comment on another post, patslc (Pat Curley) wrote:

    Diane, I have issued an update to my post, based on a comment by Mark (Gravy) Roberts, who says that he does not believe the columns on the West face were severed. Looking very closely at the photographs it appears that at least some of what I saw was an optical illusion caused by the blackening of the columns exposed to the fire. I’m not entirely positive that none of the columns have severed but I’m certainly less confident that a substantial number of them have been severed.

    Which alleged southwest corner damage are you talking about? The damage apparently shown in the photos here, which would seem to be about 18 to 20 storeys down from the top, or the damage shown in Figure L-22a, Floor 18 and down? Anyhow, the NIST interim report, on p. L-18, says, “Southwest corner damage extended over floors 8 to 18.” It also speaks of spandrels severed on the south face near the southwest corner, from the roof down, for 5 or 10 floors (details uncertain due to smoke).

    Comment by Diane — December 3, 2007 @ 12:32 pm | Reply

  7. Transits can also be used to help determine if the building is out of alignment, rather than to check if it is moving over a time interval. This method would be less affected by small vibrations, but wouldn’t be able to tell if you it were still moving. Still, if the building is as little as 1 degree out of alignment, it would indicate severe structural damage.

    Comment by anonanonanon — December 3, 2007 @ 2:45 pm | Reply

  8. >>Still, if the building is as little as 1 degree out of alignment, it would indicate severe structural damage.

    anonanonanon, pls include a link. Thanks.

    Comment by reader21 — December 3, 2007 @ 7:51 pm | Reply

  9. […] (P.S., 12/9/2007: See my subsequent post WTC 7: FEMA report and NIST prelim report: What about pre-collapse leaning and the transit???) […]

    Pingback by Demolition of WTC: Let’s not overstate the case, please « New York City activist — December 9, 2007 @ 8:29 pm | Reply

  10. One type of error which should be carefully avoided is something like Jim Hoffman’s usage of this picture o WTC 7 here:

    http://911research.wtc7.net/talks/b7/blamefire.html

    Mike Williams provides some other photos of WTC 7 from different sides which give a different picture here:

    http://911myths.com/html/wtc7_fire.html

    Now maybe those extra pictures provided by Williams are a full answer and maybe not. There’s enough oddities associated with that day that one can’t help remaining suspicious. But what is not legitimate is to provide an incomplete set of photos, as Hoffman did with the one photo above, in such a way that it appears misleading in retrospect. Too many 911-troothers have taken an approach which is similar to a salesman who has no customer follow-up policy. They go around waving something like the picture which Hoffman posted so as to give people the impression that an open-and-shut case exists around WTC 7 because of what looks like a small fire in the Hoffman photo. Later on such people will come across the photos which Williams posted and a significant percentage will very likely abandon the trooth-moovment after seeing how they were misled by Hoffman’s selective usage of photos. That’s unfortunate since there are enough oddities from that day to deserve a sustained, careful critique. But what the trooth-moovment will have to discover for itself is that, like the salesman who tries selling goods by clever advertising without taking into account the long-term customer response, the market gradually dries up as more and more consumers are slowly turned off by these methods.

    Comment by patricksmcnally — January 6, 2008 @ 10:18 pm | Reply

  11. To Patrick S. McNally:

    Do you have any kind of advanced degree? If so, please consider joining Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice, if you aren’t already a member. Your careful approach is both needed and welcome there.

    Comment by Diane — January 10, 2008 @ 4:20 am | Reply

  12. There’s another plausible explanation for the smoke covering the south face of WTC-7.

    It’s known as “lee eddies”, and in a nutshell it says that wind blowing around a building or other obstacle from one side (North in our case) creates turbulences on the other, effectively reversing the direction of the airflow. This, in the case of WTC-7, would have pulled the smoke from buildings 5 and 6 towards its south face at the center, and then blown it back again *with* the wind at its corners. What we observe would fit this theory.

    I’ve written a little private study on another discussion board (I may eventually create a dedicated page somewhere at some time if there’s demand). It contains a good number of pictures and links to official studies and is therefore quite long. So, instead of me trying to recreate the whole thing here, I think it’s best for everyone who’s interested to just follow this link.

    Thanks for reading 🙂

    Dan

    [Edited by blog author Diane to HTML-ize link.]

    Comment by danrick — January 20, 2008 @ 3:11 pm | Reply

  13. This post has been linked to in a very interesting discussion about WTC 7 here in the Randi Rhodes show forum.

    P.S. [edit]: Further reply to Patrick S. McNally:

    To be fair to Jim Hoffman, pictures of the north side of WTC 7 are far more abundantly available than pictures of the south side, simply because the north side was far more easily accessible to photographers.

    But I agree that he should update his website to deal with a bigger set of data. I’ve written to him about this myself. He has been very busy with other things these past six weeks or so, but I hope he’ll have time to update his website on these issues soon.

    Comment by Diane — January 20, 2008 @ 5:19 pm | Reply

  14. To Dan: Thanks for posting the link to the article about the lee eddy currents. This is a matter I’ll have to look into further.

    Comment by Diane — January 21, 2008 @ 1:30 pm | Reply

  15. to Diane: You’re very welcome. If you find any part of it valuable to your research, feel free to use it in your work. 🙂

    Just an idea: Maybe someone could set up an experiment with simple models of the most relevant buildings, a few smoke machines and fans. If it works, videotape it. This could be improvised with rented equipment from stage show production companies, or more “scientific” under controlled lab conditions.

    I personally don’t have the time nor budget at the moment, but maybe you have some better connections?

    Comment by danrick — January 21, 2008 @ 7:18 pm | Reply

  16. Certainly it’s possible that eddy currents may have increased the amount of smoke on the south side of WTC 7 beyond what one might otherwise have been expected. To determine how much of that smoke would likely have came from WTC 7 requires looking at other evidence, such as digging deeper into eye-witness testimony. (Unfortunately the NIST 2004 progress report doesn’t even include, let alone source, the testimonies on which its fire claims are based.)

    I’ll be sending you an email (at the address for which you registered on WordPress) soon.

    Comment by Diane — January 22, 2008 @ 1:12 am | Reply

  17. People might like to scan the NIST summary of where they claim to be at in the investigation of WTC 7:

    http://wtc.nist.gov/media/WTC7_Approach_Summary_18Dec07-Final.pdf

    Page 4 gives a chart of assignments with some listed as completed and others as still running.

    Comment by patricksmcnally — April 19, 2008 @ 9:35 am | Reply

  18. I’ve seen this already, but thanks.

    Comment by Diane — April 20, 2008 @ 10:17 pm | Reply


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