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Evacu-Blimp

Hot-air balloon used to escape from skyscraper fires
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In the case of a large-scale fire in a skyscraper, there have been many incidents of entire floors of people being trapped above the fire, with their only escape route (down) blocked. Evacuating to the roof of the building is not always a terribly-useful option as helicopter rescue vehicles cannot usually approach and land because of the enormous updraught caused by the fire below.

One answer could lie in the use of "Evacu-Blimps": these several-person rescue balloons are installed securely on the roof of skyscrapers and are primed and auto-inflated in the event of a large-scale fire in the building below. In the event of such a fire, any people trapped above the burning section of the building simply make their way to the roof where the ready-inflated Evacu-Blimps will be waiting for them. When each Evacu-Blimp's gondola has taken on board the required number of people it is simply launched from the roof, where the hot air and updraught from the fire below will ensure that it is taken well away from the burning building. Obviously, control in the air and subsequent landing will not be straightforward but in such a situation, pretty much ANYTHING is better than either remaining trapped in the burning building, or attempting to somehow leave the building in the manner of Fred Astaire in "The Towering Inferno".

Now, if THEY had Evacu-Blimps installed, that film would have had a MUCH happier ending - Fred Astaire would be alive today and Steve McQueen would have been a lot less peturbed.

paintingbynumbers, Jul 25 2003

One Famous Fire http://www.vidicom-tv.com/tohiburg.htm
Too bad there was no Evacu-Blimp. [Amos Kito, Oct 21 2004]

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       We did a lot of emergency escape ideas after 9/11, but I don't recall one involving blimps.   

       It will need to inflate fast and ideally be self-guiding. Maybe use GPS to find a safe place to land.
phoenix, Jul 27 2003
  

       Why not just a parachute?
DeathNinja, Jul 27 2003
  

       Parachutes are for sissies.
thumbwax, Jul 27 2003
  

       Whilst [DeathNinja] may well have seen people parachuting through massive fireballs onto mounds of burning rubble through billowing clouds of poisonous smoke, the Evacu-Blimp concept had more to do with safety than as a thrill-ride at "Extreme-Fest 2004".   

       Actually, regarding [phoenix's] comment about guidance for safe landing, the best method would probably be several long grappling ropes that can be dangled (once clear of the building) and can either hook onto the top of an adjacent building, or be grabbed by people on the ground, so that the Evacu-Blimp can be safely pulled down again. GPS isn't much use when it's windy - it's easier to look over the side to see where you're going and phone ahead...
paintingbynumbers, Jul 27 2003
  

       I disagree. Blindly grappling will probably end up causing more problems than not. The likelyhood of hitting people, power lines or what not seems too high.   

       Why not just keep updated maps in an autopilot on board and let the autopilot find a safe place to park so no one on board has to drive? Alternately, the blimps could be remote controlled by emergency authorities on the ground.
phoenix, Jul 27 2003
  

       you could just have the blimps programmed with different landing sites for different weather conditions. like if the wind is blowing east, you dont want to fly directly east because of the smoke and possible debris. also, the idea with the grappling ropes is already used except they dont have a hook on the end.
tazmase2, Jul 27 2003
  

       Didn't [rayfo] do something about a rescue blimp for stranded mountaineers? Can't find it now.
angel, Jul 28 2003
  

       Include a Blimp, Get a Croissant!
dbsousa, Jul 28 2003
  

       angel, it was Uncle Nutsy.
Shz, Jul 28 2003
  

       Ability to dispatch thousands at a time? Updraft? Turbulence? Windspeed? Ability to control blimp heading out to sea? Hitting outher buildings?   

       I can think of many reasons why it'll never happen, but it's a cool idea nonetheless (+)
FloridaManatee, Jul 28 2003
  

       Helicopters cannot approach or land due to updrafts, but why not, once the blimp drifts far enough, have a helicopter (or several if force is an issue) tether Itself to the blimp and guide it that way?
zindog1282, Aug 08 2003
  
      
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