The evacuation of office workers and the ingress of emergency crews to the Twin Towers on September 11 can hardly be described as an orderly affair. Chaos reigned in every sense of the word. A police helicopter observer was radioing to his officers to evacuate the building as fire officers bravely rushed into their near certain deaths.

When the towers collapsed the radius of uncertainty spread as the debris plume extended on the wind. The effect on situational awareness for those trying to escape the scene was huge. They could barely see where to go. The air was simply full of concrete that had become aerosolised as the towers collapsed.

While it is always hard to try and generalise from a highly specific and extreme event, the likes of which we hope never to see again, although major fires in buildings do occur. In the UK we have experienced a number of such major incidents. In London, as in other major urban conurbations as population growth continues, accommodation blocks are bound to get higher.


Read the full article on our digital issue, page 28-29.

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