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By Steve
During the past several days, I've been seeing those sad scenes from the World Trade Center disaster again and again. Now, I am wondering whether there might be any conclusions to be drawn (and I mean something that goes beyond the killing of more innocent people).

One of the images that struck me most was that of people jumping off the WTC in panic and falling to death. I can't believe that, at the beginning of the 21st century, the only way of escaping from a burning sky scraper is committing suicide by jumping out of the window. If a building is taller than 1000 ft, why don't they have any parachutes for emergency purposes? I don't know if this is technically feasible, but if it's not, there are definitely other solutions. I mean, if you travel on a ship, you expect it to have life-preservers for every passenger. So I think it wouldn't be too much asked to have a similar life saver for tall buildings.

Reward: It would be rewarding for me if others could think about these matters as well and come up with some constructive ideas. (Maybe someone has a new approach to enhance the safety on planes?)
Last edited by Steve on Mon Dec 23, 2002 4:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
By billy taff
I think you have a very great idea, its good that you people think deap into things like this.
By Takoma Park
Great idea! But "executivechute?!" Ouch. Why not just rename it vip-preserver?
By Nuriel Ater
Stefan, This is indeed a great idea but people have already thought about it. An Israel firm has exported last months 5000 parachutes for emergency purposes and they are working double shifts to meet the demand. This Israeli firm developed a special model of sliding chutes, as per the special conditions for nonpro users, the units were tested by US institutes and presently they are sold in the US and are working on legalisation that ech skyscraper should have these units.
By will
ouch if i have to visit a US office im bringing a parachute, otherwise ill most likely be aiming (to live in) england.
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By Steve
321ideascom, this is a technical discussion, not a theological one. I have moved your post [which is gone now, did I already mention that I moved it?] to the "Sea of Chaos" section where it may lead a happy post's life with many replies. ;-)
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By Michael D. Grissom
For those who don't want to wait, there are small parachutes made for hang-gliders that easily fit in a standard brief case. I bought one 17 years ago and won't fly without it, and, I'm a pilot. Landing on hard concrete, you're guaranteed to break bones but you'll live (most likely). It comes with a loop cord that you can loop over your body in seconds -- then jump. In a plane, just pull the cord out of your under seat briefcase and fasten the loop to your foot. If the airplane explodes and your thrown out, the chute goes with you.

It would be extremely rare that you would ever need to use it but then, you'd be one of the extremely few laughing all the way to the.................. ground. :-)
8-o Steve,I wondered along similar lines myself-ie. the idea of using a parachute as a means of escape.There is however a considerable problem,in that the manner in which wind blows around tall buildings is not always predictable or steady.Even skydivers who have jumped from skyscrapers ,have known that they were taking considerable risks.A method of escape that would get around the problem posed by the vageries of wind/windflow would be escape by means of abseiling.This is a technique you may have seen whereby people descend in a controlled manner down vertical cliff faces,with the rope secured from above at the top of the cliff-face.Perhaps structures could be fitted to every floor of a building,above a certain height which would serve as secure attachment points ,from which people could rapidly attach a rope to and make their escape by abseling down from that point.It might not even be necessary to abseil down the entire length of the building,passing those floors that were on fire might suffice(say 3-4floors).Although only a minority of people have done abseiling on adventure courses-if a programme were instituted requiring all office workers to be able to abseil down a minimum of 3-4floors,this problem could be easily overcome.I'm convinced that most people could accomplish this.The main technical problem would be designing an attachment support sructure to support the weight of the average person(78+Kilos).
Hope this gives some food for thought-Regards Mike.
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By Steve
The problem with abseiling is that it probably wouldn't work when the building is on fire. Either the rope would get burnt or the people who are trying to rescue themselves. Also I'm really not sure if the average office people (old, overweight, handycapped, etc.) would really be able to handle it (actually I doubt it).

Me believes the best solution would be to construct a life vest for sky scrapers. Put it on, pull a string, it inflates a small helium ballon and off you go. Like with a regular life vest, you would have a valve to adjust the filling (no point in hitting the stratosphere), and the valve should probably be very small to keep even very stupid people from accidentially killing themselves.

A more sophisticated version might have an altimeter and adjust the height automatically. Two buttons, one for keeping you afloat and one for slow decent, should make it almost fool proof. Anyway, not sure if the altimeter thing wouldn't make the whole thing too expensive, after all, it would only be needed on VERY rare occasions, so in order for many buildings to have it, the price tag would have to be very low.

Another approach: no valves, just a switch to set your weight. Push the button, inflate the ballon, and jump off the building. It will simply slow down your descent, you'll probably break your foot or something, but at least you will survive.
By midoh
Steve,you certainly have a point with regard to fire burning the rope and also people who are old,overweight or disabled.I've just had another thought though.What about a system similar to that used to transfer material between ships while both are moving at sea?Something like a flexible rubbish shute which would extend out and downwards to the nearest building.It would be telescopic and only extend it's full length in an emergency.

Best regards,
By icedestiny
i really like your idea, :-) but what i really would hope is that instead of having to put parachutes and other devices for emergency exits, no more acts of terrorism would happen, and that there shouldn't or wouldn't be a reason for people in such buldings to be in danger in the first place. ;-) right? (however chances of this happening are really slim :~( )but of coarse, there is always fires and earthquakes and such, so it would also be pretty good, :-D so its good to try and take messure to prevent so many deaths.
By midoh
The problem of escaping from very tall buildings(ie. higher than 1000 feet) is a difficult one.Perhaps the solutions devised from escaping oil-rig/gas platforms ,ocean cruise liners and air-liners might offer some pointers.In the first two cases escape is made by means of lifeboats.Since skyscrapers are usually situated on land, one would have to have large/deep moats surrounding the buildings to break the fall of a 'lifeboat' dropped from those buildings.Oil rig platforms are often very high above the sea-level,but well below the 1000foot height level. A possible solution to overcome this difficulty would be to equip each lifeboat with very large drag/brake parachutes not unlike those used to brake the descent of the Mars rover exploration vehicles.Even if the building were well over 1000 feet high,the lifeboat could be slowed down to velocities that were survivable.I suppose the best place for these lifeboats would be on the roof of the building or mid-section levels of same.
Since skyscrapers are common in major cities all over the world,the solution might be made economic if it were implemented on a global scale. I hope my thoughts onthis topic will generate/spark off other ideas.Who wants' to see civilisation grind to a halt?Not me ............Midoh.
By Rishi
Means of escaping from tall buildings/skyscrapers

It appears that midoh's idea of a controlled descent is worth developing as the safest and cheapest option.

There are automatic, non-electric friction based braking mechanisms that have been tried on lifts to slow down a potentially catostrophic fall of the cage in case the lifting mechanisms fail.

The latest nylon type engineering plastics are very much stronger than the plain nylon. They can be made fire retardant as well.

For the purpose of emergency evacuation that is being considered some form of mass evacuation will lower costs.

Can an option like the following be considered?

Make a large capsule with a thin skin of Fire retardant carbon-fibre epoxy composite. This will have reinforcing struts of the same material running in a wireframe like structure analogous to the latitudes and longitudes on a globe. At the centre of this is suspended by springs another geometrically similar but smaller capsule, which has a rigid floor mounted on a rigid foam with controlled collapse characteristics on impact. The walls of this are bubble foam soft plasic, which can absorb impact shocks. The inner capsule can accommodate ten people. The entire assembly is suspended from a pulley structurally anchored into the frame of the building and held against the wall of the building by means of bolts that can be detached from the moorings from inside the inner capsule.

Between the roofs of the two shells sits the abseiling mechanism. A 50 cm high double coil of 1 cm dia high strength nylon rope will have 2000 feet length. The rope can pass through a descendeur kind of mechanism used by mountaineers in rapelling. This can be a car disc brake kind or a dynamic braking kind where a dynamo generates electricity, which is dissipated through a resistance load acting as a brake.

These escape 'Drops'(opposite of lifts) are situated at strategic locations on each floor, taking care that no two are in the same vertical line. In an emergency people get into these, strap themselves to the walls, and pull the lever. The whole capsule abseils down the side of the building. Since this has only a dropping function an electric hoist is not needed. Gravity will do. It should be possible to adapt the friction braking technique used in mountaineering to regulate the fall. Ventillation slots and other such details would need attention.


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