Any type of building can experience fires, explosions, medical emergencies, chemical spills, toxic releases, and a variety of other incidents. However, high-rise buildings such as office buildings, hospitals, hotels and high residential towers, due to their large tenancy capacity, are more exposed to experience the threat of a large scale emergency.
Protecting from the risk of fire has required and involved a multi-layer approach, covering prevention, early detection, retardation of spread, early extinguishing, rescue and egress, and fire-fighting. Fire retardant construction materials, smoke detectors and fire sprinklers, fire doors/compartmentalization, staircases and over-pressurizing systems are some of the many devices and solutions demanded by regulatory agencies and authorities.
Following 9/11 and other fatal events, and given the very rapid growth of the high-rise urban landscape, there is a growing demand and requirement for innovative and robust solutions for emergency evacuation and access. The need has been recognized and addressed by numerous international and local bodies, such as NIST, ASTM International, NFPA, TUV, ISO, The Standards Institution of Israel (SII), the State of Maharashtra (India) and the Russian fire authorities.
Currently, for the most part, in a tall-building emergency event involving rescue and evacuation operations, the only available means of access and egress to and from the floors, are the Emergency Fire Staircases within the building. Fire service equipment, such as ladders and platforms, may arrive on scene late, are limited in height (usually to around 10 stories) and suffer from small capacity/through-put.