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emergency compressed air bottles/masks

For safety in high-rise buildings.
  [vote for,

I realize the concept of emergency oxygen bottles is long-baked in aircraft and perhaps a few other situations, but I've never seen it done in office or apartment buildings, where one of the leading causes of death in a fire is not flames, but smoke inhalation and suffocation. I hear all the time people saying put a wet cloth over your mouth and nose, but come on. Seriously. Why hasn't anyone thought to include oxygen bottles in emergency kits?

You go in a large building and you see fire extinguishers every fifty feet or so along the corridors (maybe not even that many of them) but I've never seen portable compressed air bottles. There should be at least one of these for every person working/living in the building, with extras for visitors. In office buildings, these could be stored easily. One under each desk. Extras could be kept in emergency lockers at each end of each major corridor. The oxygen bottle/masks used on my airplane were about 18 inches long with a 10-inch diameter (these measurements are estimates, I never actually measured one) and easily stowed out of the way.

Edit to reflect a very useful suggestion from twitch's annotation (with my thanks): A battery-powered strobe-light can be placed on either the mask or attached to a headstrap and Velcroed to the bottle when not in use. This makes it much easier for rescue teams to find anyone wearing the strobe-light.

Also I'd like to suggest windows that open automatically when a smoke detector goes off, to allow firefighters to get more water inside when spraying.

21 Quest, Dec 07 2006

MSOGS http://stinet.dtic....dentifier=ADA186275
This stuff is really cool! [21 Quest, Dec 09 2006]

Here's some more http://www.uigi.com/noncryo.html
[21 Quest, Dec 09 2006]

Tactical Ventilation http://www.firetact...icalventilation.htm
To vent or not to vent [oneoffdave, Dec 11 2006]

Woolworths Fire http://news.bbc.co....chester/3696407.stm
Major commercial fire in Manchester [oneoffdave, Dec 11 2006]


       I am guessing that they would explode under great heat and the unused bottles would be more harmfull than helpful. I have also been thinking about this as I went to a fire saftey meeting the other day. I was thinking of ways to save a baby in a crib who can't hop out and run.
Chefboyrbored, Dec 07 2006

       A simple pressure-relief valve would solve that problem.
21 Quest, Dec 07 2006

       A release valve? You mean empty a ton of exta oxygen into the burning building? Don't get me wrong I am not knocking your idea I am just curious.
Chefboyrbored, Dec 07 2006

       I can't help thinking, if you're constantly breathing the stuff, won't that relieve the pressure sufficiently?
21 Quest, Dec 07 2006

       Wouldn't the bottles explode if they were heated by the fire, sending shrapnel flying everywhere?
Atriedes Duke, Dec 07 2006

       Yeah, I know firemen do, thanks for pointing that out I hadn't throught of them (which answers the question of exploding, by the way). I just don't get why nobody else does.
21 Quest, Dec 07 2006

       //(which answers the question of exploding, by the way)//

       It doesen't. Firemen may go a long way into the building but not into the depths of the flames and their BA tanks are not exposed to quite the same level of heat for the same amount of time as unused cylinders in a cupboard would be. They are also filled with air, not pure oxygen.
webfishrune, Dec 07 2006

       Did I say pure oxygen? I said 'portable oxygen bottles'. I never said anything about level of purity.

       Also, as far as the unused Oxygen bottles in the lockers are concerned, notice I also said:

       //could be kept in emergency lockers at each end of each major corridor// Keeping them at the end of the corridor, against an exterior wall, in a fire-proof locker means they can be exposed to the cool outside air with a simple spring-loaded backwall panel that opens when the smoke detectors go off.

       And who the hell ever said firemen don't go into the depths of the flames!? Where are you getting this nonsense from? They go wherever people are trapped, that's what makes them so heroic for doing what they do!
21 Quest, Dec 07 2006


       I took Oxygen bottles to mean they contained oxygen, only. Surely they would be air bottles or mixed-gas bottles otherwise.

       I take your point on the ventilation and fire-proofing and this would help to some extent but I still think that putting tanks of compressed oxidant in a building is a bad idea. Compressed air may well be more feasable, however.

       //And who the hell ever said firemen don't go into the depths of the flames!?//

       They go a long way in yes, and it is heroic and i'm not putting that down but there are limits to where even they can go. I have family in the fire service, hence I have a little knowledge of this. They don't blindly go wherever people are trapped, they are only human and have their limits the same as the rest of us. A safety and risk descision is also made by the officer in charge with regards to their lives and if, even with their equipment and training, there is a very high probability they will not come out alive, they will be ordered not to go in.
webfishrune, Dec 07 2006

       I understand there are places they will not be ordered to go in. I also understand there are those who have gone in anyway, risking themselves to save the people trapped on the other side of the flames, and have come out alive, with unexploded air tanks. These are the ones that I refer to when I use the term "hero".

       Of course there are limits on what they can do. There is a limit to everything. But the limit to what *will* be done is often very different than what *can* be done.

       I will edit the title, however, because I can see that it was somewhat misleading. I certainly agree with you that pure oxygen is a bad thing in a fire.
21 Quest, Dec 07 2006

       Quest, I hope you don't mind me stateing this in your idea, but I just noticed that when I click the *anno* tab a link labled *best* appears in the newly opened anno link section. I love this place, I learn somthing new every day.
Chefboyrbored, Dec 07 2006

       Oh. Wow! I never noticed that. It's the Top 10 list! Thanks for pointing that out!
21 Quest, Dec 07 2006

       I will [+] it now then :-)
webfishrune, Dec 07 2006

       If a fire fighter sat in one place long enough to explode his air bottle he would have been well a truly cooked long before it blew up.

       I think the bigger issue as to why firemen use air and people generally do not has to do with maintenance of the equipment. You cant just throw it in a cabinet and then expect it to work 5 years later when there is a fire.

       They do have emergency escape hoods and air systems designed for this type of use. Any standard saftey supply catalog will sell them. They are used extensively in hazardous waste handling facilities and in factories where there is a real danger of poisonous gas exposure. They contain enough air for about 5 min(enough to run for the door). Devices sufficient to sustain a fire victim for an extended period of time when they are in an excited state would need to be Very simple and Very large as an excited person uses a much larger volume of air than a calm person.
jhomrighaus, Dec 07 2006

       // Quest, I hope you don't mind me stateing this in your idea, but I just noticed that when I click the *anno* tab a link labled *best* appears in the newly opened anno link section. I love this place, I learn somthing new every day.//

       Chef, When you open that link click on the little "edit" link next to the title, then on the next page click on the OK button on the bottom of the page and it will be there when you log in from now on.
jhomrighaus, Dec 07 2006

       I've seen this years ago in some products show for japanese products (those clever people). Although it was not a portable air container, it was a filter with a head covering. The thing looked like a can of beer, but the top opened and a plastic head covering came out and slipped over the user's head. Things like this are genius (adj.), but i'd like to see one more incorporation to your idea: emergency strobe light. You may be able to breathe for some minutes, but can you find your way out? Now you can follow other's strobes for the way out, or even if you cannot move, a strobe makes it much easier for a fireman to see you through the smoke.
twitch, Dec 07 2006

       Hey, the light's a great idea!
21 Quest, Dec 07 2006

       (Twelve-hour) Portable air generators are used in mine environments, but they are notoriously difficult to use and actually can cause a panic. Due to their portability, you have to blow in very hard to get the mechanism working, and it generates its own oxygen through a chemical reaction.

       But the difficulty in using it causes panicking, which degrades the available air time, and also causes some people to cast them aside thinking they don't work.

       They very often don't, which is also part of the problem.

       A better idea, perhaps, would be to combine breathing hoods with a small output generator with a one-setting release valve. Put on the hood (elastic neckband = good), pull a tab, and air flows in. Five minutes is probably sufficient, at least to escape the majority of the flames. Ten would undoubtedly be better.

       The oxygen generators in airplanes are also, well, generators, not cannisters of air. Those have long lifespans: several years, IIRC. And they have more than enough capacity to last long enough to escape if there's an available route out.

       [+] for the thought, and it would be useful, but I think O2 generators would be better than canned air.
shapu, Dec 08 2006

       //The oxygen generators in airplanes are also, well, generators, not cannisters of air.//

       There *are* actual cannisters of gaseous oxygen on planes. Many also store ultra-compressed liquid oxygen (my plane had a 25-liter onboard LOX converter) but no generator. Some planes have an MSOGS (molecular sieve oxygen generation system) equipped, but not all.

       I have to say, I have no idea how I remembered what the MSOGS acronym stood for, I only heard it once or twice in tech school... the things my mind picks up and holds on to amazes me sometimes.
21 Quest, Dec 09 2006

       That sounds like a great idea, actually. Combine that with windows that automatically open upon smoke detection so firefighters can spray water inside more effectively.
21 Quest, Dec 09 2006

       I dunno about that, since I got the inspiration from your anno, but I'll add it to this post. (see edit)
21 Quest, Dec 09 2006

       //automatically open upon smoke detection//

       And provide all kinds of fresh air to the fire so the building becomes a chimney and eventually a blast furnace.
jhomrighaus, Dec 10 2006

       You choose, blast furnace or smokehouse. Either is lethal. Me, i'd like a chance for a few breaths of clean air and maybe an opportunity to hurl my body out the window, so it can be identified, you know, because I didn't turn BBQ.
twitch, Dec 10 2006

       Opening windows randomly can create all kinds of issues. Poorly controlled ventilation has killed several firefighters over the past few years. For a greater insight see the [link]. Also water is used sparingly in any compartments where there is a probability of casualties being present as the dry v hot air of the fire is better than the not quite so hot supersaturated air that you get when putting out the fire.
oneoffdave, Dec 11 2006

       Ah... hadn't thought of that. Thanks for the lesson, oneoff. Very interesting! Should I remove the auto-opening windows from the post, then?
21 Quest, Dec 11 2006

       Auto opening only works as part of a larger smoke management system that a lot of high rise buildings have. The 20+ storey building I used to work in had a system that pressurised the stairwells and protected lobbies preventing smoke entering.

       As for oxygen/air cylinders for evacuation, I'm unconvinced as the ideal is to get out before the smoke is an issue. Having worn breathing apparatus in smoke, it is amazingly disoreintating even with a guideline. I suspect something like this may give a false sense of security and encourage people to take risks (i.e. going back for belongings, etc). Some of the fatalities in the Woolworths fire in Manchester occurred in this manner.
oneoffdave, Dec 11 2006


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