The last resort to escape a burning skyscraper

Published:  11 July, 2014

‘What the airbag is for cars, the Evacuator is for tall buildings.’

The newly developed Evacuator offers a last resort for people trapped in buildings, allowing them to slowly and safely descend on a steel cable.

The Evacuator was presented at the International Tall Building Fire Safety Conference at the University of Greenwich, London, in June.

The Discovery Channel is making a documentary about the Evacuator, to be broadcast later this year.

Dutch inventors Eugene Verstegen and Joris Veeger came up with the idea when they saw people fall to their deaths from the Twin Towers in New York. ‘If you are living or working on this height, you must be able to get out at all times. We can put people on the moon. Why is there no simple solution for evacuations from great heights?’ said Verstegen.

With an engineering company they developed a fireproof steel winch that is guaranteed to function even when electricity is down.

The device allows four persons wearing a safety harness to descend 50, 140 or even 300 meters at the same time, at a speed of 1 meter per second.

The Evacuator is the last resort when elevators are switched off, emergency exits are filled with smoke and firefighters are unable to reach victims. ‘What the airbag is for cars, the Evacuator is for tall buildings. With this technology we can save lives in 99 percent of all tall buildings in the world,’ said Verstegen.

The two inventors were invited to the London conference by host professor Ed Galea, founding director of the Fire Safety Engineering Group (FSEG) at the University of Greenwich, explained Verstegen: ‘After we had shown him the Evacuator, he got so excited that he invited us to come demonstrate the device.’

The Evacuator has been developed, tested and produced in the Netherlands, approved by the German inspection institute DEKRA and awarded with the EN341 certification for 33 European countries.

  • Operation Florian

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