“U.L.’s testing procedures helped make that possible”

When I was fired by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) for publicly questioning the company’s testing related to the World Trade Center (WTC), and its role in the WTC investigation being conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), UL claimed that there was “no evidence” that any company had tested the WTC steel components.

Of course, that was a lie.  The company had already admitted that it was responsible for the fire resistance testing related to the WTC buildings, in an April 2002 letter to the editor of the New York Times.  Below is that letter.  UL had also certified the fireproofing material and had consulted with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey throughout the life of the buildings.

The author of the letter to the editor, UL’s manager of its Fire Protection division, Tom Chapin, wrote in defense of ASTM E119, the standard test UL had used to ensure fire resistance of the buildings.  The NYC code, which UL’s CEO had confirmed to me was used to guide the testing, required two hours of fire resistance for the steel columns and 3 hours of fire resistance for floor assemblies.  One of the buildings fell in 56 minutes. 

Chapin also used this letter to the editor to suggest that the computer modeling techniques available at the time were not sufficient to determine the structural response of a building to fire.  This might be surprising in light of the fact that the NIST investigation, which began the same year, ultimately used computer simulations as the basis for its theories for destruction of the towers and WTC 7.  NIST had to use computer simulations because the physcial testing it and UL performed did not support the fire-based conclusions.

In August 2004, UL used ASTM E119 again to effectively disprove the long-standing “pancake theory” for the WTC destruction by testing floor models built exactly to WTC specifications, except with less fireproofing.  I was fired three months later for speaking out about it.    

UL’s involvement in NIST’s WTC investigation, including its testing of materials for that investigation and its role in promoting the fire-based (non-explosive) explanations for that investigation, was a giant conflict of interest.  That’s undoubtedly why NIST told us that it could not find the documents for the towers’ original fire resistance testing.  For WTC building 7, however, NIST made clear in its report that UL provided the fire resistance information for the building.  In what appears to be a flimsy attempt to downplay UL’s conflict of interest, the NIST report for WTC 7 does not list UL as a participant in the WTC 7 investigation as the NIST report for the towers did.   

Fire Test Is Sound
Published: April 15, 2002
The New York Times 
To the Editor:
 
Re ”Towers’ Collapse Raises New Doubts About Fire Tests” (front page, April 8): ASTM E-119 is a global fire testing standard that has protected the lives and property of millions of Americans for 80 years and continues to do so today. The standard and Underwriters Laboratories’ testing procedures and equipment are modern and up to date.
 
Understanding of fire dynamics has grown because of Underwriters Laboratories’ fire-testing work. U.L. uses computer modeling to further understand how fire affects entire buildings. But computer modeling is still under development and has its limitations. Until these models are refined, ASTM E-119 remains a proven safeguard.
 
The World Trade Center stood for almost an hour after withstanding conditions well beyond those experienced in any typical fire. In that time, thousands of people escaped with their lives. ASTM E-119 and U.L.’s testing  procedures helped make that possible.

 
J. THOMAS CHAPIN
General Mgr., Fire Protection Div.
Underwriters Laboratories
Northbrook, Ill., April 11, 2002

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2 Responses to “U.L.’s testing procedures helped make that possible”

  1. Great article Kevin. Keep up the great work!

    – C.

  2. Pingback: “U.L.’s testing procedures helped make that possible” /  We know and will tell you all what really happened today

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