NFPA (2001 Edition) 9.3.6 covers Spoliation of Evidence. Specifically, 188.8.131.52 reads as follows: “Once evidence has been removed from the scene, it should be maintained and not be destroyed or altered until others who have a reasonable interest in the matter have been notified. Any destructive testing or destructive examination of the evidence that may be necessary should occur only after all reasonably known parties have been notified in advance and given the opportunity to participate in or observe the testing.”
It would seem painfully obvious the very engineers and investigators that are tasked to determine the cause of collapse would be “reasonably known parties” and would find it very helpful to “participate in or observe the testing” in order to aid in their investigation.
Since when do we destroy evidence before we identify the cause of collapse? We don’t solve crimes, or get safer buildings by destroying evidence, and then hypothesize the cause. There is nowhere in the NFPA guidelines, or any investigation guidelines that we have found that call for the destruction of evidence, and then the investigation.
We often hear people say it was about the money in the recycled steel. We haven’t been able to find one other example of a mass murder, and engineering catastrophe where the evidence was destroyed prior to determining cause, for the money. Don’t accept that excuse. Willful destruction of evidence before an investigation completion is only done to hinder the investigation or hide the truth!
Glenn Corbett, Professor of Fire Sciences, discusses the destruction of evidence.