Plastic ladder unrolls to safety

Fire escapes are best described as big, ugly iron things, with the added disadvantage that they are also relatively expensive

Problem: . Few ordinary houses are equipped with them and this despite the fact that there are about 1,400 house fires every week in the UK, in which eight people are killed, and 250 injured, often because of their inability to escape from upper floor windows. Incidentally, candles, electrical faults and carelessly discarded cigarettes are siad to be the major causes of such fires.
Fire escape systems fitted in student hostels include lowering harnesses attached to speed limiting systems and thick lengths of rope. But while these devices may be suitable for use by fit and agile students, they are not necessarily the answer for children, the elderly or those of a nervous disposition. Conventional rope ladders are bulky, and for those who have not tried using them before, surprisingly difficult to descend.
Solution: Frank Banks has developed a low cost and easy to use plastic rope ladder in conjunction with Windsor Moulding and Tooling in Croydon. When not in use 'Banksie's Fire Escape Ladder’ sits inside a box fitted beneath a window but it can be deployed by a child and descended in safety by even the most nervous individual.
To activate the box is pulled away from the wall and then thrown out of the window. This unrolls the ladder which makes use of 1,200lbf (5,338N) breaking strain polyester rope.. The fire retardant polypropylene rungs are each equipped with triangular stand-offs, which hold the rungs away from the wall, and dig in slightly to prevent rotation.
Applications: The box measures 330mm x 127mm x 76mm, but can hold up to 10.7m of ladder. Price fully fitted in the UK is £89 and ladders may be obtained by telephoning freephone number 0800 7833016. The development is covered by UK and US patents. TS

Tom Shelley

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