Skyscraper Safety Campaign - Must-Read Articles











Regenhard Calls for New High-Rise Codes and Code Group Composition
Fire Engineering Magazine (April 2002)
FDIC Conference: Indianapolis, IN March 2002

"We need national reform of code groups. Right now, code groups are made up of builders, developers, financial people, and bureaucrats," says Sally Regenhard, who lost her 28-year-old son, Christian Regenhard, in the World Trade Center (WTC) collapse and is the founder and head of The Skyscraper Safety Campaign. Regenhard explains that there is "hardly any representation from the fire service." She would like to see every code group composed of at least 50 percent of members from the fire service and the academic world of fire science engineering. To this end, she has appealed to the members of the fire service to contact their legislators to ask them for reform of code groups and the codes themselves.

Regenhard says the World Trade Center never should have collapsed, despite those who say the collapse was inevitable. She bases her position on what she has learned during the past eight months from people in the fire science, fire engineering, and fire service communities and from experts in the collapse of burning buildings. She mentions specifically Fire Department of New York (FDNY) retired Deputy Chief Vincent Dunn.

Dunn, Regenhard points out, wrote an article in Fire Engineering magazine in 1995 in which he said that firefighters with hoses and nozzles cannot defend fires in high-rise buildings because such operations are effective only for areas up to 2,500 square feet.

Each floor in the WTC was one acre, Regenhard says. Dunn was prophetic when he wrote in 1995 that FDNY would encounter a very serious fire in a high-rise building in the near future and that the people above the fire would not be able to get out, according to Regenhard. Dunn, she added, said the people above the fire would be throwing out notes from the window and jumping out of the upper floors.

Some people may be acting as if they don't know it, Regenhard relates, but, she explains, everybody in the fire service knew of the problems of skyscrapers, high-rises and the fact that radios don't work in high-rise buildings. "This is not about a radio being defective," she interjects. " It's about the nature of fire service communications in a high-rise building." The WTC and all high-rise buildings that are constructed should be "overbuilt," to protect the fire service, she noted-a term she defined as having more fire safety features than necessary. She adds that Dunn said the Empire State Building would not have collapsed if hit by the plane because it was overbuilt and had classic column and beam construction and concrete masonry.

All the Systems Have Failed the Fire Service
The system they swore to uphold betrayed the 343 FDNY firefighters killed at the WTC, Regenhard says. She deems it an outrage that this system allows the same standards to be applied to a 110-story building and a 10-story building. This same system, she adds," allows builders and developers to build buildings like this and walk away and leave it up to the fire service to figure out how to defend them and allows buildings of any size, of any height, and of any square footage of open floor space to be constructed." All of the systems failed the fire service, she stresses.

We Need National Code Reform
Regenhard is urging fire service members to contact their senators, congressman, governor-"anyone who will listen"-and ask them to support a federal investigation of the WTC collapse, code reform, and code group reform and to outlaw lightweight open floor truss construction. She reminds the fire service that it has been saying for years: "Never trust the truss." She says, "Well, that certainly hit home on 9-11. The entire construction of the WTC was steel open floor truss. Bolts connecting the truss to the outside walls were less than one inch in diameter.

Also, Regenhard urges the fire service to petition legislators to put an end to an Authority's constructing buildings without building codes. The WTC, she says, "was constructed without having to comply with a single city or state code or fire department regulation."

The fire service, she says, can make a difference and effect change. Firefighter and civilian safety should be put first. The fire service has the power to bring about "legislation of safety," she insists.


© Copyright 2002 Fire Engineering Magazine

Sally Regenhard,

P. O. Box 70
Woodlawn Station
Bronx, NY 10470

Monica Gabrielle,

P. O. Box 70
Woodlawn Station
Bronx, NY 10470