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Designer creates evacuation tunnel for high-rise buildings

A British designer has created a unique life-saving evacuation chute which can be adapted to any building – and ‘could have emptied Grenfell Tower in 20 minutes’.

Eric Hooper, 72, said watching live coverage of the devastating fire that killed at least 80 people left him ‘frustrated as hell’.

He said fitting the escape tube on the 21-floor residential block could have saved countless lives when it was ravaged by the inferno in June.

 

A British designer has created a unique life-saving evacuation chute which can be adapted to any building – and ‘could have emptied Grenfell Tower in 20 minutes’

HOW DOES IT WORK? 

The system of escape tubes entered from hatches on separate floors could have allowed residents a safe means of escape when its stairs became filled with thick smoke and debris.

Activating a mechanism at each entry point unfolds a multi-layered chutes which children and the elderly can use to vertically slide down to lower floors.

The fire-resistant device supports a user by the waist who then controls the speed of descent by pressing against the tube’s sides. 

The chute system costs between £7,500 ($10,000) and £150,000 ($200,000) depending on the building’s complexity and can be purpose-built to any high rise building.

Single chutes can be installed with steel frames and can provide a roof-to-ground evacuation point for buildings up to 105m in height.

The designer from Stockwell, London, said: ‘All the time I was thinking that a simple chute system would have evacuated all the entrapped victims.

‘Whichever systems was installed at Grenfell it would have evacuated at the rate of 20 to 25 evacuees per minute.

‘For the price of a cup of coffee per day per person in the building they could have paid for a system in a year.’

He added: ‘I know for a fact that had this device been on Grenfell it could have saved I don’t know how many lives… I wonder why they never went down the stairs.’

The system of escape tubes entered from hatches on separate floors could have allowed residents a safe means of escape when its stairs became filled with thick smoke and debris.

Activating a mechanism at each entry point unfolds a multi-layered chute which children and the elderly can use to vertically slide down to lower floors.

The fire-resistant device supports a user by the waist who then controls the speed of descent by pressing against the tube’s sides.

Mr Hooper, manager designer for Escape Chute Systems, watched the tragedy from his home in Australia.

He said: ‘I watched that disaster on TV here in Brisbane, and was frustrated as hell, a Multi-Entry Systems could have emptied that building in 20 minutes, even with the fire taking a good hold.

‘It was early morning in Australia when the incident started to be reported on television.

The system of escape tubes entered from hatches on separate floors could have allowed residents a safe means of escape when its stairs became filled with thick smoke and debris

The system of escape tubes entered from hatches on separate floors could have allowed residents a safe means of escape when its stairs became filled with thick smoke and debris

The bottom of the chute is close to the groud, allowing an easy dismount

A man tests the escape chute

Activating a mechanism at each entry point unfolds a multi-layered chute which children and the elderly can use to vertically slide down to lower floors

‘By that time the flames had reached the fifth or sixth floor, but not via the inside of the building, but on the outside, and I knew then and there it could only be two reasons that it took that route.

‘Reason one, the building had Bamboo Scaffolding or reason two, the outside of the building had been cladded with Aluminium Composite Cladding – I knew the answer.

‘During the coverage, they talked with many observers, who said they could hear victims crying for help, and it was obvious then that nobody was going to make it out, I was surprised that so many did, they must have got out early in the drama.’

The fire-resistant device supports a user by the waist who then controls the speed of descent by pressing against the tube's sides

The fire-resistant device supports a user by the waist who then controls the speed of descent by pressing against the tube’s sides

The chute system costs between £7,500 ($10,000) and £150,000 ($200,000) depending on the building's complexity and can be purpose-built to any high rise building

The chute system costs between £7,500 ($10,000) and £150,000 ($200,000) depending on the building’s complexity and can be purpose-built to any high rise building

Mr Hooper is a manager designer, fitter and turner who has worked in the mining industry after moving to Australia in 1977.

He said the chute system costs between £7,500 ($10,000) and £150,000 ($200,000) depending on the building’s complexity and can be purpose-built to any high rise building.

Single chutes can be installed with steel frames that can provide a roof-to-ground evacuation point for buildings up to 105m in height.

'Multi-entry systems' could be installed on each floor of a building including convex ones such as The Gherkin

‘Multi-entry systems’ could be installed on each floor of a building including convex ones such as The Gherkin

The chute design has already won civil defence contracts in Dubai and adapted to firefighting platforms used to put out fires in high rise buildings

The chute design has already won civil defence contracts in Dubai and adapted to firefighting platforms used to put out fires in high rise buildings

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO MAKE SURE YOUR BUILDING’S SAFE 

Here are some steps to take to be sure you’re as safe as can be:

  1. Talk to the owner to find out when it was built and whether (and when) there has been major renovations. 
  2. Ask the owner and look around your building to identify fire safety features like smoke detectors, sprinklers, visual and audible alarm devices, fire doors, protected stairwells, exit signs, emergency lights.
  3.  Contact your local fire department and building department to see what information they have about whether the building complies with the rules or has a history of any fire code violations.
  4. Engage the local fire inspector or hire a fire protection engineer, to inspect and assess the building.

Source: Brian Meacham, Worcester Polytechnic Institute 

‘Multi-entry systems’ can be installed on each floor of a building including convex ones such as The Gherkin and Mr Hooper said: ‘Whichever systems was installed at Grenfell it would have evacuated at the rate of 20 to 25 evacuees per minute.

‘My vision is to give all entrapped persons and alternative means of emergency egress.

‘I was inspired by working in the mining industry at a time when the mining equipment was getting that large, the operators had real problems in getting on and off the machines and in particular when the caught fire.

Mr Hooper said: 'Whichever systems was installed at Grenfell it would have evacuated at the rate of 20 to 25 evacuees per minute. My vision is to give all entrapped persons and alternative means of emergency egress'

Mr Hooper said: ‘Whichever systems was installed at Grenfell it would have evacuated at the rate of 20 to 25 evacuees per minute. My vision is to give all entrapped persons and alternative means of emergency egress’

While the chute may help to save lives, it won't be easy for people with claustrophobia to muster up the courage to jump in

While the chute may help to save lives, it won’t be easy for people with claustrophobia to muster up the courage to jump in

‘What happens next? Try to save lives.’

He said the chute design has already won civil defence contracts in Dubai and adapted to firefighting platforms used to put out fires in high rise buildings.

Mr Hooper said: ‘We’re sitting right now with fire department of Abu Dhabi – some of the drawings you’ve got is the proposal for their training in towers.’ 

Pictured is what the entry point for one of the systems looks like, where users could just through the whole and shimmy though the chute

Pictured is what the entry point for one of the systems looks like, where users could just through the whole and shimmy though the chute

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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