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BS: Escaping from a tall building

Kim C 14 Sep 01 - 10:57 AM
Mrrzy 14 Sep 01 - 11:00 AM
Clinton Hammond 14 Sep 01 - 11:09 AM
Troll 14 Sep 01 - 11:15 AM
Kim C 14 Sep 01 - 11:22 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 14 Sep 01 - 11:25 AM
SINSULL 14 Sep 01 - 11:28 AM
Troll 14 Sep 01 - 11:34 AM
Kim C 14 Sep 01 - 11:43 AM
Clinton Hammond 14 Sep 01 - 11:46 AM
mousethief 14 Sep 01 - 11:57 AM
Kim C 14 Sep 01 - 12:04 PM
M.Ted 14 Sep 01 - 12:14 PM
Clinton Hammond 14 Sep 01 - 12:21 PM
catspaw49 14 Sep 01 - 12:23 PM
Clinton Hammond 14 Sep 01 - 12:50 PM
catspaw49 14 Sep 01 - 12:55 PM
mousethief 14 Sep 01 - 01:14 PM
Kim C 14 Sep 01 - 01:16 PM
Amos 14 Sep 01 - 01:24 PM
Mrrzy 14 Sep 01 - 01:34 PM
Kim C 14 Sep 01 - 01:37 PM
mousethief 14 Sep 01 - 01:43 PM
RichM 14 Sep 01 - 01:58 PM
Kim C 14 Sep 01 - 02:05 PM
GUEST,Melani 14 Sep 01 - 02:32 PM
Mark Cohen 14 Sep 01 - 02:47 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 14 Sep 01 - 02:53 PM
Homeless 14 Sep 01 - 03:56 PM
GUEST,petr 14 Sep 01 - 04:01 PM
Kim C 14 Sep 01 - 04:06 PM
Lanfranc 14 Sep 01 - 06:12 PM
Liz the Squeak 14 Sep 01 - 06:27 PM
SharonA 14 Sep 01 - 06:33 PM
sophocleese 14 Sep 01 - 06:38 PM
Troll 15 Sep 01 - 12:00 AM
Amos 15 Sep 01 - 12:06 AM
GUEST 15 Sep 01 - 12:50 AM
GUEST,mgarvey@pacifier.com 15 Sep 01 - 01:56 AM
Charley Noble 15 Sep 01 - 12:34 PM
Clinton Hammond 15 Sep 01 - 12:46 PM
Bernard 15 Sep 01 - 02:43 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 15 Sep 01 - 02:48 PM
SharonA 15 Sep 01 - 02:58 PM
GUEST 15 Sep 01 - 03:32 PM
Bernard 16 Sep 01 - 10:25 AM
GUEST,colwyn dane 16 Sep 01 - 11:47 AM
marymarymary 16 Sep 01 - 08:13 PM
sophocleese 17 Sep 01 - 08:18 AM
Willie-O 17 Sep 01 - 09:07 AM
Mrrzy 17 Sep 01 - 11:36 AM
Willie-O 17 Sep 01 - 11:49 AM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Sep 01 - 11:55 AM
Tiger 17 Sep 01 - 12:00 PM
Ringer 17 Sep 01 - 12:18 PM
Midchuck 17 Sep 01 - 08:01 PM
sophocleese 17 Sep 01 - 08:14 PM
John Hardly 17 Sep 01 - 08:47 PM
Burke 17 Sep 01 - 09:45 PM
Kim C 18 Sep 01 - 01:06 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Sep 01 - 01:27 PM
M.Ted 18 Sep 01 - 02:38 PM
sophocleese 18 Sep 01 - 02:43 PM
Kim C 18 Sep 01 - 02:58 PM
Grab 19 Sep 01 - 12:10 PM
Kim C 19 Sep 01 - 12:38 PM
GUEST 19 Sep 01 - 02:22 PM
M.Ted 19 Sep 01 - 02:48 PM
Kim C 19 Sep 01 - 03:00 PM
Charley Noble 19 Sep 01 - 10:47 PM
Lox 19 Sep 01 - 11:00 PM
Scabby Douglas 20 Sep 01 - 07:29 AM

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Subject: Escaping from a tall building
From: Kim C
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 10:57 AM

Mister and I were talking the other night, wondering what we would do if we were trapped in a tall building with no visible means of escape. Then the question was asked: when these skyscrapers are built, is there no requirement for emergency exits?

Sure, everyone knows, you take the stairs, not the elevator. But what happens when you can't even do that? The people who were trapped in the upper half of the Towers were simply just Stuck.

Boats, must have life preservers on board. Should these extraordinarily tall buildings be required to have emergency means of escape? Ropes and harnesses? A big airbag in the sidewalk for those who must choose to jump?

What say ye?


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Mrrzy
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 11:00 AM

I've wondered about that for years. You can't even open the windows - or break the glass - to try to get out. Although I don't think bungee cords of varying lengths outside hallway windows would help... I'll ask Greg Fenves, the civil engineer who gave all those details about how these building collapsed. He's my cousin.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 11:09 AM

One cannot plan for the unthinkable...

I've already seen one idiot reporter trying to insinuate to one of the guys who helped rebuild after the first bombing of the WTC, that the building should have been made to withstand this...

NOTHING withstands a planeload of exploding jet fuel!


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Troll
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 11:15 AM

There is, quite simply, no way that is pratical or effective.
The only posibility that I can think of would be an outside fire escape that spiraled around the building.
And what would you do if it was impassable i.e. a plane had just flown through it.

troll


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Kim C
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 11:22 AM

Well, all of you are right, of course. Having a jet crash into your building is a highly unlikely prospect. However, there could be other types of emergencies during which people would need to get out. Obviously there is no way to plan for every possibility, but it strikes me as odd that these types of structures seem not to have emergency escape plans.

I'm interested to hear what the engineer has to say.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 11:25 AM

Do we really need these monuments to some developer's pride?


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: SINSULL
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 11:28 AM

There is no way out but escape from the roof by helicopter or down the stairwells. An exterior fire escape? Have you any idea of the force of the wind at those heights? The buildings are designed to sway in high wind. Had they chosen the Statue of Liberty, there are hundreds of people going up and coming down with no way out. As Clinton says "You can't plan for the unthinkable".When these skyscrapers first went up, the fire departments all over the country warned that there was no way out and fire equipment cannot reach, water pressure could not reach. Hence, "Towering Inferno".


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Troll
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 11:34 AM

Of Course!
Isn't our motto:
Some is good.
More is better.
Too much is just right.?
To paraphrase a poem with apologies to Joyce Kilmer and Ogden Nash;
I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Indeed, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all!

troll


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Kim C
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 11:43 AM

'Kay. I was just curious. Glad I work in a 3-story building on the second floor. If I jump I might get hurt real bad but I have a good chance of surviving.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 11:46 AM

Ya think the towers were big before?!?!

Just you wait till they're rebuilt...

They have to end up bigger and better and brighter than they were before... any less is to admit defeat on some level...

I can just imagine it.. the worlds first memorial that can be seen from space! LOL!!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: mousethief
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 11:57 AM

The alternative to building tall buildings downtown is sprawl. Businesses need space to work in. Better to have them downtown, and everybody taking the train, than to have smaller business parks clogging the landscape, and everybody driving cars. Can you imagine Long Island as one big business park? If I had my druthers, they would have a MINIMUM size for business buildings, not a maximum.

The only real alternative is to go down, as some science fiction novels predict. But the problems of getting out are then even greater. Walking DOWN 86 flights of stairs is far, far easier than walking UP the same.

But if I worked on the 100th floor of any building, after 9/11/2001, I'd seriously think about investing in a parachute...

Alex


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Kim C
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 12:04 PM

Personally, I hope they don't rebuild those particular buildings.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: M.Ted
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 12:14 PM

Apparently, they do plan for the unthinkable, Clint--From what I have read and heard about the design process--there was concern from the beginning that a plane crash would occur one day, and the design was intended to withstand a collision--

Kim-There are emergency escape plans, and it appears that, although many were lost, a very large number of people who were in the buildings did get out--even people who had been on floors above the point of impact-


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 12:21 PM

A collision perhaps... but no material that we use in building today is gonna withstand how many hundreds of gallons of burning, exploding plane fuel gushing though the ventilation ducts, the stairwells, and the elevator shafts... it was that fire that melted steel and concrete and glass and caused the buildings to collapse the way they did...

Something, I suspect, that even the terrorists didn't expect to happen... Which could explain why no one is quick to claim responsibility... I donno... I'm just thinking out loud...


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: catspaw49
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 12:23 PM

Let's face it, if you were above the crash sites, or indeed at the higher floors of any of these things in an emergency, you're basically and essentially screwed. Maybe you could keep a Superman suit in your desk drawer or something........

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 12:50 PM

Have a look at this spaw... on the superhero front...

Userfriendly.org Today


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: catspaw49
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 12:55 PM

That's a damn fine toon there CH....Thanks.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: mousethief
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 01:14 PM

Excellent, excellent cartoon.

Alex


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Kim C
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 01:16 PM

Like Guy Clark once said, close your eyes, hold your breath, and always trust your cape.

M.Ted, what sort of emergency plans do these buildings have?


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Amos
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 01:24 PM

I would think a very large spool of fine cable would be a terrific idea, with some kind of braking descender running down it. They make similar things for wall-climbing. And why not giant Kevlar trampolines acting as sunshades about half way up and every twenty floors? Emergency baloons on the roof that would inflate and liftoff with the pull of a rope? Inflatable glide-discs that you could ride like a Frisbee? I dunno. It is madness to build such a trap with no alternative egress.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Mrrzy
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 01:34 PM

Nothing says we have to go UP to avoid sprawl. There is a lot of Down room too.

I'll post as soon as Greg answers from the civil engineering front...


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Kim C
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 01:37 PM

That is a really good cartoon Clinton posted; everyone please check it out.

Say Amos, maybe a dumbwaiter would work.... like a hot-air-balloon basket attached to a cable... hmmm........


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: mousethief
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 01:43 PM

Mrrz, can you imagine walking UP 86 floors? And fire tends to go up, so you'd be walking up into the heat and smoke and flames, instead of away from them.

Alex


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: RichM
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 01:58 PM

For years I worked on the 23rd floor of an office building. We knew that that during an emergency, loudspeakers would tell us if we should evacuate or not.

I had my own plan. Whenever there was an alarm--or if I saw emergency vehicles outside, I didn't wait for anyone to tell me to leave or stay. I immediately walked down the stairs and waited for the all clear when I was on the ground.

Individuals must take charge of their own safety.

Rich McCarthy


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Kim C
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 02:05 PM

That is true, Rich, and it's obvious a lot of people took charge of their own situations. We do, however, have so many codes and rules and regulations anymore about building safety, handicap access, etc., I have been curious about whether or not skyscrapers have any different safety regulations.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: GUEST,Melani
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 02:32 PM

Apparently there was some guy with a bullhorn originally telling everybody to go back to their offices, or stop in the cafeteria for some coffee. Bad advice.

I personally have always hated tall buildings. We went to the top of the WTC as tourists in 1989, and I hated every minute of it. I got major crap from my relatives for being afraid. After '93, I flat out told them I was never setting foot in the place again. Now it looks like I wouldn't have the opportunity anyway.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 02:47 PM

I heard one survivor say on the radio that as people were walking down the stairs in the tower that was not hit first, an official began announcing that the problem was confined to the other tower and they should take the elevators down. Many people did just that. He said he believed that anyone who left the stairwell at that time did not make it out. Sometimes you simply don't know the right thing to do. In fact, that's probably true most of the time, but it rarely has life-or-death consequences.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 02:53 PM

The effect of wind force has already been mentioned. Winglike structures and descent devicesoutside would be twisted off. If ten-story inter-connected structures were built instead with firewall protection between units- oh, well, just noodling . We must have our phallic symbols. I agree with Amos that it is madness to build such structures with no effective escape, but his solutions are unworkable. Stairwells are not enough- if a smoky fire starts at lower levels, many would be asphyxiated. I remember the fire in a dormitory tower, I believe Ohio State, that killed a number of students through smoke inhalation. At the WTC a local woman was in the 2nd tower to be hit, on the 87th floor. She took to the stairwells but found a locked exit. Men with her failed to break the door with a fire extinguisher. They had to go up 4 flights before they could start down again. A fireman found her staggering in the dust and smoke and pulled her away. He may have been one of those killed in the subsequent collapse.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Homeless
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 03:56 PM

Another concern that y'all seem to be missing is: How do you move that many people in a speedy manner?

What was it, 50000 people in roughly 100 floors? So about 500 people per floor?

How fast can you put another person on your escape route? Every 5 seconds or so? So it takes 2500 seconds, around 40 minutes, to get everyone off of one floor?

How long does it take you to get down one flight of steps? 5 seconds? 10 seconds? Multiply that by 100 flights. From the time you decide to leave, even if you're the first one to decide, how long will it take you to get to the bottom? And that's if you don't have people from lower stories blocking your way down.

On shorter multistory buildings I've seen various fire escapes - ladders, stairs, tube slides, tornado slides, stretchy cloth tubes. None of these work on larger buildings for various reasons. Could you imagine riding a tornado slide for 100 stories? I'd puke before I got 5 floors down. Not to mention how hot your butt would get from the friction.

Another thought for designing the escape plan.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 04:01 PM

re: escape route from tall buildings I saw a TV show in the 70's all about inventions and there was a kind of tube made of some stretchy fabric with a metal loop at the top designed specifically for that purpose (escape from buildings that are higher than can be reached by fire truck ladders). The escapee would climb into the tube and slide down in a controlled slide down tube and it would slow down at the bottom in fact supposedly one went down the tube at a speed and could be stopped simply by closing the tube at the end. I thought it was a great idea but Ive never seen it implemented. People say the towers should be rebuilt even bigger and stronger, but Im not sure if you will find that many companies wanting to locate their head office in such a place. ALready they are rethinking plans to build a skyscraper complex in London. petr


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Kim C
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 04:06 PM

Homeless, I hadn't thought of that. Another consideration, to be sure.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Lanfranc
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 06:12 PM

I used to work on the 52nd floor of the Security Pacific Building in downtown LA (when there was a Sec Pac). I once asked what we were supposed to do if there were an earthquake (not an unreasonable request, given the location). I was handed a copy of the evacuation procedures, which, naturally enough, recommended a quiet, orderly, non-panicking exit via the staircase. So I asked how long it took to evacuate the building (half the size of WTC), and was told that it would take at least 30 minutes.

30 minutes to descend a lighted, stable staircase under ideal conditions, and I'd wager that was an optimistic estimate. How long in an earthquake or fire, with smoke and debris to contend with?

Back to the basic rules "In case of emergency, put your head between your legs and kiss your arse goodbye!"

Fortunately the only earthquake I experienced was minor, and at the time I was in a five-story building near La Brea.

Now I'm in my dotage I have determined never again to work above the fourth floor.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 06:27 PM

As one about to ascend to the 16th floor (halfway up our building), and being H&S rep, I'm very interested in what alternatives there are... or not!

We have a rule that regardless of the alarm, false or not, you leave the building by the emergency exits and go to the muster point. I'm sure that before any collapse, casualties were already happening due to people turning off exits and onto floors that were trying to get out......

Ever heard of not putting all your eggs in one basket?

LTS


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: SharonA
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 06:33 PM

I got nervous when I was in a third-floor office! The electricity went off there one day during a snowstorm, and the emergency light in the stairwell failed. Pitch-blackness. Thank goodness there was no fire, or there may have been an avalanche of bodies falling on top of one another in the dark.

Now I'm back in a one-story building (*whew!*).

How do window-washers cope with the height problem of cleaning a skyscraper? Might the answer to the escape problem be based on their apparatus?

How about constructing skyscrapers more in the shape of ziggurats, with escape helicopters permanently standing by on the "steps" as standard equipment, for escape from the various levels?


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: sophocleese
Date: 14 Sep 01 - 06:38 PM

SharonA I was just thinking of Ziggurats myself. Not as efficient a use of ground space as a tower but with a giant staircase built along the outside. You could plan shafts at different places to let light into the lower levels.

I always liked having a second floor apartment. Close enough to the ground to escape without great damage.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Troll
Date: 15 Sep 01 - 12:00 AM

Yeah Soph. Sorta like a giant stadium in reverse. Might work at that. It'd have an awful big footprint tho.

troll


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Amos
Date: 15 Sep 01 - 12:06 AM

A protective half-shell buiilt out of the right materials might well be able to deflect wind so that one could ride a cable inside it. Or a threaded pipe of some kind. I am not persuaded NO such solution would work, although I am happy to admit I have not done the homework to support the notion.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Sep 01 - 12:50 AM

Learn to rappel and keep a spool of 1200 feet of steel aircraft cable with a braking mechanism and a NASCAR fireproof suit in your desk. Otherwise, learn to BASE jump.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: GUEST,mgarvey@pacifier.com
Date: 15 Sep 01 - 01:56 AM

yeah. I think the sheer size of these idiot buildings is an affront to humanity. To the window washers, to the rescue people that might have to come in, to the people who will not get out in an emergency. I try hard not to work in any of them. I realize people don't always have choices that are great, but take a cut in salary or work for a lesser company if you can to avoid these buildings. There is no justification for them. They aren't necessary for space saving reasons. There is plenty of space in the Bronx..or was last time I was there. There is plenty of space boarded up in Kelso Washington, my home town. Plenty of room for offices on most Indian reservations. There is no need whatsoever for these arrogant, health and life threatening buildings. I say don't even think of rebuilding. Everyone who can move out of them.

mg


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Charley Noble
Date: 15 Sep 01 - 12:34 PM

Sigh! And I always wanted to live in a treehouse.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 15 Sep 01 - 12:46 PM

Sounds like a good reason to me, to spend a huge whack of cash to research Star Trekian transporter tech...


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Bernard
Date: 15 Sep 01 - 02:43 PM

Simple escape plan... don't go up there in the first place!!

Seriously, only a fool would consider rebuilding those towers, and only an even bigger fool would consider taking office space in one.

Whatever happened to the 'computers will make it easy to work from home' theory? Pollution would be drastically cut, and such stupidly tall towers would be completely unnecessary!

Duh!


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Sep 01 - 02:48 PM

The wind can be rough even at 20 stories. I was in a Honolulu hotel room facing east. Stupidly forgetting about the trade winds I opened the lanai door and the wind took the ceiling tiles out of their hangers. At street level, there was only a slight breeze. Clarke in one of his futuristic novels predicted towers miles high. The future is welcome to them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: SharonA
Date: 15 Sep 01 - 02:58 PM

Bernard, I was just thinking the same thing (work from home)!

I agree that the towers should not be rebuilt. I'd like to see a memorial park there, much like Oklahoma City... but I suppose that greedier heads will prevail.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Sep 01 - 03:32 PM

Friday morning on Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer did a very interesting piece people jumping out of the windows of burning buildings. She prefaced it by saying something along the lines of "this is something of a taboo subject which is rarely discussed, and which we never show the pictures of it happening." (Voice over to the footage of the person preparing to jump from the window of the WTC, followed by the footage of a body falling through the air after jumping).

I had already heard earlier that one firefighter on the ground had been killed by a falling body outside the WTC. So I listened to the report.

Turns out there are some firefighting statistics about the phenomenon. Those who jump from the 6th floor of a building have almost 100% rate of fatalities. But those who jump from the 5th floor have only a 50% fatality rate. But that is ONLY with a net/giant pillow sorts of things set up for people to jump into. Without those sorts of devices to land on, your chances are about as good for surviving the jump from the 5th floor as they are on the 6th.

So why build anything higher than 3 stories? Who says everything needs to be in New York anyway? Why not relocate some of those jobs, businesses, and industries to areas where economic development is needed (like many rural areas), and where sustainble growth and responsible development could become "the norm"?


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Bernard
Date: 16 Sep 01 - 10:25 AM

Given the quality and reliability of modern communication systems, why not!

People working from home is significantly cheaper! Why can't they see that? Or is this the alarm call they needed to shock them into reality?


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: GUEST,colwyn dane
Date: 16 Sep 01 - 11:47 AM

I envisage a design like a lift shaft so that the building is able to be lowered down the shaft to whatever depth you want.
For emergencies you could use a rapid descent tecqnique which would be braked by a system of buffers.
Of course the technology is not around at the moment to bear the immense weights involved - or is it?

CD.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: marymarymary
Date: 16 Sep 01 - 08:13 PM

I've got no engineering or architectural expertise whatsoever, but that won't stop me from throwing in my own pet harebrained building scheme!

How about requiring skyscrapers to be built in two adjacent but structurally independant halves, like a pair of skyscrapers back-to-back, with some sort of firewall seperating them? Then, if there were a fire, people in the affected half could drastically increase their chances of surviving by going to the other side of the building, closing the dividing wall hatches, and making their way down to the street. It would give you increased escape time -- if you were on the 100th floor, say, you could greatly decrease your chances of dying from smoke inhalation while you made your way out. And, having the two halves be independantly self-supporting would allow one part to remain standing in case the other became so structurally compromised by the fire (or whatever) than it began to come down....


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: sophocleese
Date: 17 Sep 01 - 08:18 AM

An interesting idea marymarymary. I also ma no architect or engineer. I'd like to extend your idea to a three part building. With a two part building a jet plane could conceivably hit in such a way to compromise the firewall. With three parts there's a slight chance that one firewall would stay intact.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Willie-O
Date: 17 Sep 01 - 09:07 AM

There are all sorts of sci-fi engineering possibilities, but you're talking thousands of human lives here. I've been thinking for the last few days that this is a question that's bound to emerge. And the answer in my mind is that building 100-story buildings just ain't a good idea. Too many people too far off the ground to get them down and out safely in the case of an event such as this.

PLUS it presents an obvious target for such an attack. The reason the WTC and Manhattan were selected was the opportunity to kill as many people as possible with just two missiles. And now, horrifying as it seems, any group looking to build such a structure must consider how attractive a target it will make. In military-think, it's a lot like the decline in prominence of the battleship. Battleships lost their position as the supreme weapons of military might when it became clear that you could sink one with a missile or two from twenty or thirty miles away... a very expensive loss in every possible way.

I work on the 19th floor of a building in uptown Ottawa, which has been evacuated a number of times since I've worked there. (But not since before Sept 11). One night we were evacuated 4 times, cause the alarm kept going off in the extreme heat & humidity. I work the night shift, and our floor is the ONLY one that's full at that time--but the stairwell is completely full of people for 10 minutes or so as we went down it again and again...personally I think this is plenty high up.

It's a peculiarity of urban planning that in our city, being the capital, for many years no building was permitted to be built higher than the Peace Tower (the center tower of the Parliament Buildings, our magnificent if anachronistic late-Gothic seat of government). So there's nothing more than abour 26 stories in the uptown area, which is fine with me.

The proponents of urban-density are going to have to rethink the benefits on a broader cost-benefit sheet.

Willie-O


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Mrrzy
Date: 17 Sep 01 - 11:36 AM

When we were all taking couterterrorism training after the Nov 79 (thinks like how to keep your car from being forced off the road; how to tell if a roadblock is legit and how to ram it if not...) we were advised the following about jumping out of windows: First floor, jump. Second floor, jump. Third floor - THINK ABOUT IT - look if bushes or something might reduce the damage to broken limbs or something. Fourth floor, don't jump. Nobody ever got 104th floor advice.

Meanwhile, my cousin Greg sent the following kind of non-answer:

When I was in Taiwan after the earthquake in 1999, a lot of 12 to 14 story buildings were damaged. Many the buildings had ropes hanging out the windows down to the ground. In turns out that Taiwan requires certain buildings to have these emergency ropes for egress in fire or earthquake. They were certainly used by occupants. Bungee-ing from a 120' is must different than 1300'.
The problem with very tall buildings is that the windows are completely sealed and not openable. Having windows openable probably presents a bigger safety risk than problems of egress during a fire. There have been ideas of using window-washing gantries for emergency, but they don't have the capacity to take several thousand people to safety. And there is still the problem of how and when to open windows for access.
Fire protection is designed to prevent structural collapse under normal fires (not 80,000 lb of jet fuel like in the WTC) and provide access to stairwells that are supposed to block fire. Despite the intense heat of jet fuel burning, these systems allowed many of thousands of people to evacuate before the towers collapsed. Under non-terrorist situations, the protective systems used for fire work pretty well in tall buildings.
The harder question is how much protection do we want or can afford to build into our environment. Next time it may be canisters of anthranx or dirty radiation. The solution is not technical, in my opinion, but a geopolitical one that must be addressed. The people that do these things simply must be stopped or our society will continue to be at risk. (By Our Society I think he means The Civilized World, not just us'ns.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Willie-O
Date: 17 Sep 01 - 11:49 AM

Exactly: it's not a technical question. If there were indeed 50,000 people in the buildings (probably not the case), 90% of them escaped, and it could have been 98% and the number of deaths would have still been unspeakably sickening.

Willie-O
p.s., I've said it before, go ahead and call yourself Americans, we to the north of the U.S. don't mind at all.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Sep 01 - 11:55 AM

Note the contrast between the casualties in the six storey Pentagon and the 100 storey plus Twin Towers.

Building high like that is stupid, and is more to do with arrogance than with economics.

Tower of Babel.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Tiger
Date: 17 Sep 01 - 12:00 PM

I once had to evacuate from the 23rd. floor. It was a real fire alarm, not a drill, but at least there was no fire.

It took well over an hour. The staircase was narrow and the fire doors opened from each floor INTO the stairwell, effectively reducing its width by half. The crowding of people exiting into the stairwell meant I sometimes had to stop for five minutes or more because no one could move.

If there had been a serious fire on a lower level, the doors would have been forced open by people escaping, allowing the smoke and fumes into the stairwell. The pressure and congestion of those escaping would then prevent the doors from closing again, effectively trapping everyone above the fire level.

This was not a large-footprint building - I would guess an average of 50 persons per floor would need to exit. Still, if there HAD been a big fire on a lower level, the smoke and panic would have been awful and I probably couln't have gotten down at all.

RichM is right. Though I seldom go into (or even see) buildings like that any more, I would immediately exit stage left if there were any inkling of danger. I wouldn't wait for instructions, either.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Ringer
Date: 17 Sep 01 - 12:18 PM

Mrrzy: in England we call the first floor that immediately above the floor you walk onto immediately out of the street, so a jump from the first floor here would be about 15 feet or so. I've an idea that in the USA you call the first floor what we call the ground floor. Makes a big difference if you think about jumping from the third floor!


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Midchuck
Date: 17 Sep 01 - 08:01 PM

There's one proposal for rebuilding the WTC that does make sense.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: sophocleese
Date: 17 Sep 01 - 08:14 PM

"Sense" isn't the word that I'd use, but it is a good picture.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: John Hardly
Date: 17 Sep 01 - 08:47 PM

I know mouse and guest were just kidding but if given the choice between nothing and parachutes?

If every third floor had a "launching chamber" with sufficient parachutes (an outdated name--modern ones are considerably more adaptable to base jumping), and a static line to open the chutes for those leaping. You'd only need one openable window every third floor.

Then those who chose to not take this method could take their chances on considerably less congested stairways.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Burke
Date: 17 Sep 01 - 09:45 PM

I worked in a building that was effectively 2 with a central atrium & bridges every 3 floors. It was @25 floors, I was on the 9th. The evacuation plan was take the stairs to the nearest bridge, cross to the other side, then go down. That's assuming that you know the fire is on your side. When we considered the possibility of a real fire I think most of us decided we'd feel safer going all the way down the stairs & not crossing to the opposite side.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Kim C
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 01:06 PM

I think perhaps I might just grab me one more cup of coffee before I put my head between my knees and kissed my fiddlebum goodbye... burn to death/die of smoke inhalation, or become a splat on the sidewalk?

Definitely a rock and a hard place.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 01:27 PM

The idea that the buildings have to be rebuilt as high as ever as some kind of gesture of defiance strikes me as wrongheaded.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: M.Ted
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 02:38 PM

I think the WTC will be back, even if you don't like the idea, Kevin--The symbolic value of rebuilding it is too great, and office space in Manhattan is too expensive.

The one thing that no one has mentioned, though, is that each of these horrible catastrophes could have actually happened, exactly as they did, only by accident--WTC is almost literally a stone's through from Newark, and an equipment failure, sudden inclement weather, a sleeping or otherwise impaired pilot, a tower failure, could have sent a volley of aircraft toward the towers. Human malice, rather than human error, got them first--Unfortunately, human pride and human greed are more than likely to give everyone another shot--


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: sophocleese
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 02:43 PM

But if they rebuild them, who's going to rent out offices above say the 25th floor? It may prove much more expensive to rebuild now than it was to build in the first place. I suspect that that consideration will decide the issue more than any other.

A friend suggested that they rebuild them to the same height as before, get that skyline looking right again for the movies, but just leave the top fifty floors open as a monument.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Kim C
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 02:58 PM

I think I like that idea.

Of course, rebuilding on that same spot would be nearly tantamount to building atop a graveyard. And the resulting building could be haunted, for those who believe in such things....

Maybe they could just come up with a hologram instead.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Grab
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 12:10 PM

My vote is a hang-glider! Have big, wide floor-to-ceiling windows that open like a garage door in an emergency. Of course, the rigging time may make it a little impractical - plus the space required to rig one!

I reckon the static-line chute idea is much more practical. The only problem with that is that chutes have to be repacked at regular intervals to prevent them from becoming too compressed, which takes some time. Doing this for 50,000 chutes would _certainly_ take some money! And up until last week, no-one seriously thought they had to protect against this.

Incidentally, don't forget the legal angle. Many ppl using chutes will damage themselves (broken legs, ankles, arms, skulls, etc from not landing properly). A fair percentage would sue. If you doubt that, consider that ambulance crews and doctors have directions to cut up the seams of clothing, after some were sued by accident survivors for cutting off clothing quickly to provide first-aid. The argument that this was saving the person's life was considered to be irrelevant! :-(

Graham.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Kim C
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 12:38 PM

Listen, if it was a choice between a broken leg or certain death... well... I think I'd take my chances with the leg!

Mister and I both agree that instead of rebuilding the towers on that spot, it should be a memorial, with some trees and a monument. It really is a graveyard and should be treated as such.

Of course, the argument could be made that not rebuilding would be giving in to the terrorist philosophy, and perhaps there is some merit to that. But what happened there is so incredibly tragic - to rebuild would somehow be disrespectful, at least in my opinion. (yeah, I know, everybody has one)

Several years ago there was a mass shooting at a McDonald's in California. I believe the restaurant was torn down. Also the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City was not rebuilt, at least not in the same spot.

Anyways, I hope I never am in a situation where I have to worry abour getting out of a tall building.

We have a volunteer in our office, an adult woman with Down syndrome. She asked me the other day if we ever had fire drills in the building, because she had fire drills at her school. No, I said, but you know to take the stairs, right, and not the elevator. And if we can't get to the stairs---- we'll just push Fran's desk through the window and jump. We're only on the 2nd floor and from Fran's window - it's not too awfully high up!


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 02:22 PM

Once the rubble is cleared out, it will be some of the most expensive real estate in the world.

Insurance companies have already begun to invoke the "not a coverable loss" argument because of the acts of God/terrorism clauses.

So just who do you suppose would finance rebuilding the towers?


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: M.Ted
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 02:48 PM

The insurance money will more than cover the rebuilding--no need to find new backers--KimC, where would you and Mister plant any trees? All of the earth was removed and replaced with concrete and steel when the WTC was built--the building itself extended for about seven stories below the ground level--


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Kim C
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 03:00 PM

Then that means there's a darn big hole just begging to be filled up with dirt. ;-)

A raised bed of some kind might work, if not for big trees, maybe for some bushes or shrubs or flowers.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 10:47 PM

From "Walls and Windows" by Judy Small and pat Humpries:

Oh, may we live to see the day when walls of words and fear
No longer stand between the truth and dreams;
When walls of windows rise into the darkness and we dare
To look into the mirror and see peace.


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Lox
Date: 19 Sep 01 - 11:00 PM

I'm surprised that noone has mentioned the Towering inferno (with Paul Newman).

They managed to slide down lengths of steel cable that were connected to the roofs of surrounding buildings.

A load of these in a lattice over the city streets would make an excellent provision for those needing to escape from above an impassible inferno.

It would also make it much easier to arrange the christmas decorations when december comes around. (Sorry, did I say December? I meant October.)

lox


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Subject: RE: BS: Escaping from a tall building
From: Scabby Douglas
Date: 20 Sep 01 - 07:29 AM

Lox: I'm surprised that no-one mentioned that Towering Inferno was, in fact, a movie, and that, even in the movie, the method used failed to rescue all of theose trapped even when there were (if I remember correctly) only 100 or so fictional people trapped.

There are skyscrapers across all of the developed world. They arose out of a desire to show off technological prowess - to say : look what we can do..
now - we should be saying - look what we did.

We built buildings that can trap the occupants. I know that the circumstances surrounding this were exceptional - at one time we could have said *unthinkable* - but now we have to think in those terms always.

We can ignore something that might never happen, but not something that has happened, with drastic terrifying consequences. We may eliminate these terrorists, but I believe that what happened last week just "upped the ante" for events of this type. Hijacking for hostages was one thing. It's been around for over 30 years. We lived with that. Hijacking for usage as missiles has only just begun.



Other comentators have pointed out that it needn't be a plane, or a bomb.
These buildings and many others are now targets.

Steven


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Mudcat time: 7 July 12:15 AM EDT

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