Update December 31, 2003:
Throughout history, societal concepts that were considerably different than conventional or traditional ways of dealing with problems have had difficulty in gaining acceptance. When they are perceived to be dramatically different, the road to acceptance is frequently tortuous. The SkyWalk concept is certainly different. Whether it is perceived as different or dramatically different will depend largely on the life experiences of the beholder.
In either event, its inventors recognized that SkyWalk's road to acceptance was going to consume a great deal of calendar time, if prior techniques of introduction were used. This would be so if for no other reason than the sheer size of the establishment that is involved in the design and construction of tall buildings.
Mainly for that reason, it was decided early on, that to inform people of SkyWalk's capability for sure, rapid, safe egress, for all of the occupants of a burning high-rise building, a new method of rapidly communicating with as large an audience as possible would be used. In other words, a twenty-first century tool, the Internet. Hence, this web-site was born.
Work on the web-site was started after an initial period of having the basic approach, but not the critical operating concept, reviewed by numerous fire chiefs and others involved in the consequences of high rise building fires. One of these reviewers, a nationally recognized fire safety expert, suggested that we send information on the SkyWalk project to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the federal agency charged with investigating the World Trade Center tragedy.
Along with their report on all of the technical aspects of the destruction of the buildings, NIST has also been charged with making recommendations for improving fire safety. When acting upon the above-mentioned suggestion by one of the reviewers, that we send the SkyWalk material to NIST, we requested they consider SkyWalk for inclusion in those recommendations.
In addition to this first website statement of the existence of a new architectural concept for saving lives and reducing injuries and property loss in burning tall building situations, it is our intention to periodically up-date interested parties in regard to the status of the project. Also, the web-site will be the means for us to provide additional background on related aspects of the program.
Further, it will be a way to respond to criticism, constructive and otherwise, where warranted. The ultimate goal, of course, is to build a critical mass of support that will encourage a first use of the concept as a demonstrator of the societal value of SkyWalk.
There is little possibility of ever constructing a tall, stand-alone building that is both economically practical and fire-proof enough to absolutely prevent blocked stairways and elevators. To dramatically improve occupant fire-safety (unless evolution miraculously speeds up and provides humans with wings) people in high rise buildings need the ability to walk in the sky. It is therefore incumbent upon the designers and developers of tall buildings to provide the means to do so. The SkyWalk “buddy” system is such a means.
Recent Update February 11, 2004:
On the night of February 10, 2004, during the telecast of the Public Television series “Innovation,” entitled: ‘Building To Extremes,’ a statement was made that has important meaning for the SkyWalk high rise escape system concept. The content of the hour long presentation primarily concerned structural design improvements to two new skyscrapers now being built in China and Taiwan.
However, toward the end of the program, a spokesperson for the Petronas Towers (twin 88 story buildings in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) acknowledged that in light of the World Trade Center disaster they had concluded that their evacuation plan (in case of fire) was inadequate. Further, she stated that they have now incorporated their popular 42nd floor sightseeing bridge between towers into the evacuation scheme in order to help improve the situation. Although not of much value to those above any fire floor occurrence higher than the 42nd floor, it is certainly a step in the right direction, and does add some improvement to the situation.
SkyWalk was conceived as an alternative escape route to safety: around the fire, not through it. It also provides for much faster evacuation than is possible in a stand alone building. Additionally, it removes a great many of the obstacles facing fire-fighters and rescuers in their efforts to save lives and reduce injury of occupants. And, at the same time, it improves the health and safety of the responders, and contributes mightily to the efficiency of their fire containment and suppression tasks.
It accomplishes all of those benefits by means of a vertically spaced, roof-to-ground array of environmentally enclosed escape bridges between companion buildings, designed as firebreaks. These are equipped with self contained, redundantly powered, smoke management equipment. In cooperation with refuge/staging areas in each building at the bridge/building junctions, it allows the shortest, most rapidly traversed path to safety that is possible, regardless of building height and occupant location, and with the least smoke exposure time.
|Last updated: 2-11-04|
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