SGH gathered information related to this event by documenting the fire damage and building features. We also reviewed relevant witness testimonies, reports, video footage, photographs, drawings and other construction documents, and applicable codes and standards.
SGH performed computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling using the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) software to quantify the impact of a properly-operating smoke louver in the southeast stairway of the twelfth floor. We used modeling to simulate the smoke and heat transport within the floor of origin and into the stairwell where the occupants were trapped, demonstrating the difference in carbon monoxide levels between the actual scenario (louvers closed) and an ideal design scenario in which the smoke stacks vent the smoke and toxic fire by-products. As part of a confidence testing procedure used to justify the plausibility of the results, SGH developed thirty-two CFD models in order to test the sensitivity of inputs.
Based on our studies, we determined that the occupants most likely would have survived if the louvers had functioned as intended.