Even where regulations require or allow “Fire Service Elevators,” these are only available up to a relatively early stage in the emergency, as the building emergency systems and the building core become compromised. Indeed, in many cases the rescue teams opt not to use these as their use requires “flying blind” in a burning building and can become a fire trap.
Emergency staircases are an important and relatively robust solution; however they suffer from a number of significant shortcomings. They are not negotiable by persons with mobility limitations; ascending them can be time consuming and physically quite taxing on fully equipped responders; and the simultaneous use for tenant egress and responder access can cause congestion, thereby critically delaying both. Finally, once compromised staircases can become chimneys, filling with deadly smoke.
All of this has led to an innovation in paradigm. The traditional model of emergency egress has been “First down (within the building) and then out.” Escape Rescue Systems represents a “flip” of this model – to “First out (of the building) and then down,” the basic idea being to get tenants out of the distressed building as quickly as possible and to utilize the building envelope for descent.