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Spiral evacuation ramp

For those who can't manage the stairs
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(+2, -1)
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If there is a fire in a building, the elevators should always be avoided, for very good reasons. However, this has left me wondering-how can a handicapped person get out of a fire building safely? Does someone have to carry them? That might start to get impractical in high-rise buildings. There has to be a better way.

I propose an inclined, curved ramp where the incline is shallow enough for a person in a wheelchair to be able to control it or stop it unassisted.

What if someone isn't wheelchair bound, but they have some kind of medical condition that makes the stairs, or walking long distances, impractical for them? No problem.

For those who don't have a wheelchair, several wheelchairs will be kept in a sort of device similar to the "luggage cart rental" machines at an airport, but instead of unlocking when quarters are inserted, it unlocks when the fire alarm goes off or the power goes out. The chairs will be labeled as property of the building, and will be collected and returned by employees after each use. The chairs will also be inspected to ensure that they are still in usable condition and are not, themselves, crippled.

Above each entrance to the evacuation ramps, there will be an exit sign with a handicap symbol next to it. Signage in the halls of the building will also point to these exit ramps.

These ramps could potentially replace staircases because 1. the ramps themselves are just that-ramps, and nothing more. They don't need "maintenance" any more than a staircase would. 2. having both a spiral ramp AND a staircase would probably take up too much real estate to be practical, especially since the ramps would probably take up more space than your average staircase 3. There will still be elevators-rolling a wheelchair UP a ramp several floors may prove to be challenging, and if the building is 5+ floors, even able bodied people probably would want an elevator when they needed to go more than 3 floors up/down under normal circumstances.

Dickcheney6, Feb 22 2011

Spiral slide fire escape http://www.patentst...56/description.html
[Klaatu, Apr 25 2011]

Stairs/slide Stairs_2fSlide
Only one flight of stairs is described here. For building-escape purposes, you would want to convert every flight of stairs into a slide, when the emergency lever is pulled. [Vernon, Apr 25 2011]

Figure-8 slide Figure-8_20Slide
This design is reasonably equivalent to a spiral, but needs less space and may have an advantage with respect to not-causing dizziness. [Vernon, Apr 25 2011]


       I really think a slide is better.
WcW, Feb 22 2011

       Our labs have evac-chairs. As far as I can tell from the cartoon printed on it, you put the disabled person in this chair and then drag it down the stairs.   

       I suspect it's not hugely dignified, though.   

       Great thing about a staircase is that you have several in a large building. A big windey-windey rampy ramp is going to take you right through the fire at some point.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 22 2011

       How about a water-slide? In happy times, it can be a spectacular water feature looping around the building and ending in an ornamental fountain in the courtyard. Should Freddy Fire come to call, where better to be than in a large trough of water sliding gleefully toward the exit?
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 22 2011

       Spiral evacuation ramps are well baked in Japan: Almost every multi story hospital has one. They don't involve wheelchairs though, it's just a giant spiral slide.
Voice, Feb 22 2011

       Presumably this causes problems with pranksters going to the top floor, then triggering the fire alarm just so they get to zoom down the spiral ramp ....
8th of 7, Feb 22 2011

       The problem with staircases, which elevators do not have, is that you can have at most about 40 people per minute exit the staircase. In a building such as the two largest World Trade Center towers, which had about 8000 employees each, it would take three and a half hours to evacuate each building through a single staircase. The WTC buildings had three stairwells each, reducing the complete evacuation time of the building to about an hour, which is WAY too long.   

       Elevators can actually evacuate a building faster, but are required for use by the fire department and can cause chimney effects and/or trap passengers.   

       Slides are fun, efficient, and can be a great complement to existing evacuation features.   

       //will be collected and returned by employees after each use.// How many evacuation-level emergencies does your building have?
shapu, Feb 23 2011

       Parachutes. I remember parachutes being proposed.
RayfordSteele, Feb 24 2011

       "How many evacuation-level emergencies does your building have?"   

       I don't live or work in a tall building. Regardless the building in question, hopefully not many :) but it's not uncommon for building managers to occasionally conduct fire drills, plus the slight possibility of a false alarm.   

       Of course, if there were a real fire, then returning/replacing the chairs may become the least of the problems for the building and the people working there.   

       It won't be a specific fleet of "chair-busboys" but it will be the job of maintenance workers and janitors to return the chairs if/when they're used.   

       I suppose if the ramps were "wrapped" around a central column, there could be a traditional staircase IN the column, though you'd have to cross the ramp, and there might be a lot of "traffic" in a place like a hospital or something like that.
Dickcheney6, Apr 24 2011

       From the title I thought these might be on toilet interiors.
bungston, Apr 25 2011

       Baked in old tenements where I lived in Chicago. Also, a great scene of one in the movie "Frequency" where the character escapes the Buxton fire.   

       Patent dates from ca.1901 <link>
Klaatu, Apr 25 2011

       Perhaps this is a situation in which the stairs in the stairwells should be convertable into slides.
Vernon, Apr 25 2011

       Any staircase can be converted into a slide by having a piece of weight bearing material that is slightly longer than x^2+y^2, where x is the horizontal displacement of a stair and y is the vertical displacement between two stairs...   

       It is the camembert between the stairwells that you need to consider.
4whom, Apr 25 2011

       One of several reasons that an elevator shouldn't be used during a fire is that it's hard to tell if the floor you're going to (presumably the ground floor) has a fire near it.   

       A slide would present a similar problem-there's no way to stop yourself from going into an uninhabitable area (like say, a fire) but with a ramp like this you could turn around and go to another ramp if one was blocked.
Dickcheney6, May 01 2011

       Another problem with slides (as opposed to ramps) is that it's difficult to stop or slow yourself to avoid collision with others. Particularly if the slide is long, and people enter at multiple floors. Although [Vernon]'s 2nd link is a partial solution.
mouseposture, May 01 2011


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