Computer Simulation of the Fires in the World Trade Center Towers

Report Date: September 2005

This report presents the results of the simulation of the fires in World Trade Center 1 and 2 following the attacks on September 11, 2001. As part of a building performance study of the disaster, NIST used their Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) to model the temperatures and flow of smoke and gases from the fires. The objectives of the study were to investigate the conditions that contributed to the outcome of the disaster, including why and how the buildings collapsed as well as why fatalities and injuries were so high or low depending on location. The report also serves as a basis for improvements for the way buildings are designed and constructed.


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  • National Institute of Standards and Technology

    The NIST Fire Research Division develops, verifies, and utilizes measurements and predictive methods to quantify the behavior of fire and means to reduce the impact of fire on people, property, and the environment. This work involves integration of laboratory measurements, verified methods of prediction, and large-scale fire experiments to demonstrate the use and value of the research products.

    Through its programs in measurement, prediction, systems integration, and the dynamics of fire and its interactions with the built and natural environment, the division provides leadership for advancing the theory and practice of fire safety engineering, fire fighting, fire investigation, fire testing, fire data management, and intentional burning.

McGrattan, Kevin B., Charles Bouldin, and Glenn P. Forney. Computer Simulation of the Fires in the World Trade Center Towers. Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute for Standards and Technology, NIST NCSTAR 1-5F, 2005. Print.

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