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Survival and Preparations Long and short term survival and 'prepping'.

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  #1  
Old 10-10-2017, 10:07 AM
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Default High rise fire escape options - Davy Descender?

This may sound ridiculous but we're moving office to the 12 floor of an older building in Southern California. I really would like all of us to have an extra exit option, other than fighting our way down 12 flights of stairs, possibly with smoke, debris, crowds, fire, zombies, etc.

The best option I can find is something called the Davy Descender, which looks like it has been in production for 100+ years. I can see why they don't put them on office buildings now. Most Americans are out of shape, overweight, and frightened, and prefer passive-voice instructions such as, "wait in place until you are rescued". Our office isn't like that.

What do you think? Is something like the Davy Descender a reasonable backup option to have from a high office location like that? Other options? The whole concept is stupid?
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Old 10-10-2017, 10:28 AM
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When you get your new office. Get a bug out bag to leave at your desk. Look for alternative exits. Stairway will backup quick.
When i was working, the main building had two stairways for a 5 story building. And the stairwells get crowded during practice drills.
You will find out once corporate finds out what your doing. They will say no you cant do that.
Even if you want to buy 50 feet of rope so you can at least get to a lower floor, they will tell you no. You will have to hide it under your desk.
Keep a flashlight at your desk.

If your office has a different attitude during a emergency. Look for different methods to least get to a lower floor.
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Old 10-10-2017, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by baih777 View Post
When you get your new office. Get a bug out bag to leave at your desk. Look for alternative exits. Stairway will backup quick.
That's what I'm thinking. In the dark, with smoke, the stairways will be impassable.

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Originally Posted by baih777 View Post
When i was working, the main building had two stairways for a 5 story building. And the stairwells get crowded during practice drills.
And that's with no one panicking, with no smoke, no fire.

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Originally Posted by baih777 View Post
You will find out once corporate finds out what your doing. They will say no you cant do that.
I already am cleared to do whatever I want in this regard. They will even pay for it. I just need to make sure it's a workable option.
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  #4  
Old 10-10-2017, 10:47 AM
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I used to live in a high rise, I ended up just getting some rock climbing/rappelling ropes, a cheap harness and a figure 8. Depending on the length of rope you need it all would probably fit in a medium gym bag. I recommend taking a ropes class, its the most thrilling thing I've ever done in my life, and you learn a lot of good info that could save your life.
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Old 10-10-2017, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by ScottyXbones View Post
I used to live in a high rise, I ended up just getting some rock climbing/rappelling ropes, a cheap harness and a figure 8. Depending on the length of rope you need it all would probably fit in a medium gym bag. I recommend taking a ropes class, its the most thrilling thing I've ever done in my life, and you learn a lot of good info that could save your life.
That is a good suggestion. I know that rope + harness + attachment would probably cost less than $300, whereas all these special devices cost about $1,000. I might be better off spending $300 on gear and $200 or $300 on a course. More fun too!
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Old 10-10-2017, 11:06 AM
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Depending how far to get down one level. One of those roll up ladders. There should be a supply closet on your floor. Maybe they will let your dept store a ladder. I always thought if you had to, the elevators would be turned off so the elevator shaft would be safe to get to a lower floor.
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  #7  
Old 10-10-2017, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by baih777 View Post
I always thought if you had to, the elevators would be turned off so the elevator shaft would be safe to get to a lower floor.
Bad choice, just because you can't use the elevator, doesn't mean the fire fighters won't. Getting crushed is not a good way to die.
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Old 10-10-2017, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by baih777 View Post
Depending how far to get down one level. One of those roll up ladders. There should be a supply closet on your floor. Maybe they will let your dept store a ladder. I always thought if you had to, the elevators would be turned off so the elevator shaft would be safe to get to a lower floor.
It's over the 10th floor.

There is no imaginable way I would go down a rope or ladder with a plan to re-enter the building on a lower floor. That is a plan that would only work for Ethan Hunt.

What if the lower floors are in flames? What if I can't break a window? What if I do break the window and now I'm supposed to somehow drag myself in, over broken glass, perhaps into a smoke-filled or burning room, with no idea what the situation is in the hallway or stairs? And what if I do make it to the stairs and the situation is the same as it was on the upper stairs?

It would almost certainly be better to try the stairs or wait for rescue than to go out the window and get half way down the building and hope for some better outcome. It would be better to go to the roof and hope for a helicopter rescue.

Those roll-up ladders that I found go to a max of 3 stories. It would be better to stay in the room.

I'll either get a rope that's long enough to get all the way down, or nothing.
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Last edited by CCWFacts; 10-10-2017 at 12:00 PM..
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  #9  
Old 10-10-2017, 1:23 PM
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The majority of people that die in structure fires are from smoke inhalation. A full face oxygen mask, helmet, flame retardant jump suit, and an axe. Your co-workers may think you’re a paranoid., but you’ll up your odds of getting out.
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Old 10-10-2017, 1:29 PM
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I recall 911

Supposedly staff on site informed office workers to stay in the building(s) (not evacuate) drill or not, I am getting out- even if I have to pretend I am simply stepping out to take a smoke break <--although i don't smoke. lol
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Old 10-10-2017, 2:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Blade Gunner View Post
The majority of people that die in structure fires are from smoke inhalation. A full face oxygen mask, helmet, flame retardant jump suit, and an axe. Your co-workers may think you’re a paranoid., but you’ll up your odds of getting out.
That is a good point. I should get one of those fire escape hoods. They have some single-use hoods that have respirators. They are not cheap but would make a huge difference.

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Originally Posted by kbenson View Post
I recall 911

Supposedly staff on site informed office workers to stay in the building(s) (not evacuate)
That's also what I remember hearing about it. It seems to be the default advice. I guess it is psychologically easier than saying, "we're in trouble, get out now". It's our passive liability-averse default reaction to everything: wait for someone to rescue you.

Not for me. Getting out of a problem is better than staying in a problem. Even if it means going out the window on a rope.

I'm definitely going to take a rappelling class.
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  #12  
Old 10-10-2017, 3:08 PM
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Each scerenio will have different theories. My suggestions is only an idea depending on emergency. If there is a fire down below then i would go to the roof.
Alot of smoke. I would break out the windows.

I dont rely on corporate securitiy guards. I worked for a big company. Only 6 buildings on our lot. A lady had a heart attack. Called security. Asked for paramdics. They send a security officer to confirm a person down and then call paramedics. Security brought a huge emergency bag. But would not open it. Mean time paramedics were driving up and down the street looking for the proper building. Security forgot to send a car to the street to guide rescue to our location. She died.

I said i would give a statement for what i witnessed. For OSHA. Never got called. We got called in for a meeting. I asked loudly why our building does not have numbers that can be seen from the street. We will look into it. BS.

In a emergency you need not to panic. Think of a safe way out.
Even power outages cause havoc.
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  #13  
Old 10-10-2017, 3:28 PM
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When images of the 911 towers with folks dropping from thousands of feet to escape smoke and flames come to mind. The 12th floor sounds minimal however to be certain. Speaking with fire officials would be a good move to get best practices.

Some great ideas here... Professional firefighters know the tricks.
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Old 10-10-2017, 3:56 PM
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Originally Posted by baih777 View Post
Each scerenio will have different theories. My suggestions is only an idea depending on emergency. If there is a fire down below then i would go to the roof.
Alot of smoke. I would break out the windows.

I dont rely on corporate securitiy guards. I worked for a big company. Only 6 buildings on our lot. A lady had a heart attack. Called security. Asked for paramdics. They send a security officer to confirm a person down and then call paramedics. Security brought a huge emergency bag. But would not open it. Mean time paramedics were driving up and down the street looking for the proper building. Security forgot to send a car to the street to guide rescue to our location. She died.

I said i would give a statement for what i witnessed. For OSHA. Never got called. We got called in for a meeting. I asked loudly why our building does not have numbers that can be seen from the street. We will look into it. BS.

In a emergency you need not to panic. Think of a safe way out.
Even power outages cause havoc.

Yeah your story reminds me of the company I used to work at (and I am pretty sure is standard SOP at a lot of companies)

In fact we had a "volunteer" group which consisted of employees which were dispatched to the emergeny.

Procedure-

call security-
security office notifies reaction team-
reaction team arrives to assess situation-
reaction team determines need for outside assistance-

all of this takes wasted minutes (not to say PD or EMT would arrive faster, but call 911 1st IMHO)
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Old 10-10-2017, 4:26 PM
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Yeah your story reminds me of the company I used to work at (and I am pretty sure is standard SOP at a lot of companies)

In fact we had a "volunteer" group which consisted of employees which were dispatched to the emergeny.

Procedure-

call security-
security office notifies reaction team-
reaction team arrives to assess situation-
reaction team determines need for outside assistance-

all of this takes wasted minutes (not to say PD or EMT would arrive faster, but call 911 1st IMHO)
If we as an employee call 911 before notifying security. We have violated corporate policy and may be subject to repremand.

Same thing. Three of us volunteered for the ERT. First thing i asked. All the handicapp parking is full. Are theze peoples cubicles identified. Security said no. It would be are responsibility to direct traffic in the parking lot. The other two were former military. Are they allowed to perform any medical aid and would we have access to a medical bag. No. We were to only guide rescue to the person.
We.were.better off on are own.
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Old 10-10-2017, 4:28 PM
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Originally Posted by CCWFacts View Post
That's what I'm thinking. In the dark, with smoke, the stairways will be impassable.
FWIW: newer buildings, depending on zoning/occupancy/etc, are designed with positive pressure stairwells to help keep the smoke out.
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Old 10-10-2017, 4:37 PM
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How many floors do you have above you? If you can't get down head way up. 12 floors isn't really that high for departments with ladder trucks. I think your biggest threat would be earthquakes that tie up any response. A normal fire would most likely be extinguished fairly quickly baring severe wind.

Always be the first to bail. If you ever even think for one second "maybe I should leave" do it that second. Don't wait around to confirm your idea.
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Old 10-10-2017, 5:29 PM
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I would go with a rope bag, 150-200' of good New England Rope with a locking carabiner on the end, a rescue 8 with extra carabiners, a harness, a pair of thick leather gloves and a helmet. You can't purchase enough gear if you start playing the "what if" game as every solution will have positive and negative aspects and you can't plan for every possibility. The issue you may have with rope is keeping several others from jumping on the rope and trying to climb down at the same time and may overload the line and then you all fall. JMHO, I would make a plan and then keep that idea to yourself. Take a local rappelling class and you should have enough skill to get to the ground as long as you pay attention to what you are doing. You can run prusik cords for safety but they may cause you issues if you are not accustomed to using them.

Last edited by Hairball; 10-10-2017 at 5:33 PM..
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Old 10-10-2017, 6:24 PM
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Jet pack or wing suit for me.
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Old 10-10-2017, 7:36 PM
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How much taller is the roof? As a skydiver, I would seriously have a base rig in my office.
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Old 10-10-2017, 7:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Ubermcoupe View Post
FWIW: newer buildings, depending on zoning/occupancy/etc, are designed with positive pressure stairwells to help keep the smoke out.
Interesting. Well, this building is 100 years old, hence my concerns about safety. If this were a new building, I wouldn't worry at all.

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How many floors do you have above you? If you can't get down head way up. 12 floors isn't really that high for departments with ladder trucks. I think your biggest threat would be earthquakes that tie up any response. A normal fire would most likely be extinguished fairly quickly baring severe wind.
Earthquake is a major concern. I hope an ordinary fire would be put out quickly. I think the building has sprinklers. But if there's an earthquake there won't be any response for a while, the stairs could be blocked, and the building could be unstable or catching on fire. That's why I want an alternative way out.

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Always be the first to bail. If you ever even think for one second "maybe I should leave" do it that second. Don't wait around to confirm your idea.
That's smart advice.
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Old 10-10-2017, 7:55 PM
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According to the website I checked, Davy descender needs a permanent anchor point for the install of the brake. I guess if you could find something to attach to it seems like an ideal solution.
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Old 10-10-2017, 8:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hairball View Post
I would go with a rope bag, 150-200' of good New England Rope with a locking carabiner on the end, a rescue 8 with extra carabiners, a harness, a pair of thick leather gloves and a helmet. You can't purchase enough gear if you start playing the "what if" game as every solution will have positive and negative aspects and you can't plan for every possibility. The issue you may have with rope is keeping several others from jumping on the rope and trying to climb down at the same time and may overload the line and then you all fall. JMHO, I would make a plan and then keep that idea to yourself. Take a local rappelling class and you should have enough skill to get to the ground as long as you pay attention to what you are doing. You can run prusik cords for safety but they may cause you issues if you are not accustomed to using them.

Rappelling sounds like the fastest and coolest way out....a class would be great

I hate heights, but I'd do that, once I knew how. Gloves, for sure.


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Old 10-10-2017, 8:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ubermcoupe View Post
FWIW: newer buildings, depending on zoning/occupancy/etc, are designed with positive pressure stairwells to help keep the smoke out.
not necessarily depends on stairwell design and type..
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Old 10-10-2017, 8:21 PM
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Can you modify the building?
If so, install an Ingstrom Escape Chute. (they can be up to 200m in length)


For individual extraction, check out SkySaver Rescue Backpack (80', 160', 260').
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Old 10-10-2017, 8:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Quiet View Post
Can you modify the building?
If so, install an Ingstrom Escape Chute. (they can be up to 200m in length)
Can't modify the building, but there is a good solid permanent attachment point by the window I can use.

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For individual extraction, check out SkySaver Rescue Backpack.
I'll look at that one also.
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Old 10-10-2017, 8:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Hairball View Post
I would go with a rope bag, 150-200' of good New England Rope with a locking carabiner on the end, a rescue 8 with extra carabiners, a harness, a pair of thick leather gloves and a helmet. ...
This. I left it for the next guy when I retired with instructions to learn at least a little about rappelling.

I was on the 11th floor of a downtown LA high-rise for the last 17 years.

It was truly going to be a last resort, but better than jumping.

Know where there's a solid anchor point ahead of time and tie loops or knots before SHTF.

You don't want to tie off on a cabinet that goes out the window with you.

If you know the basics of rappelling on a figure-8, you will probably survive.

Even Youtube is better than nothing.

And make sure your rope is long enough.

And have sure way to break the window and clear the shards. Throwing your office chair at it is not going to work.
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Old 10-12-2017, 5:18 PM
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Figure of 8? Prehistoric gear....smoother and faster sure but harder to control. ATC belay device would be my pick.
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Old 10-12-2017, 6:18 PM
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They also dissipate heat much better than the ATC so if you are doing a long rappel (like 130' or more like the OP and I am sure he will not waste time getting down), the 8 or rescue 8 would be the better option. The rescue 8 is still used in SAR and High Angle Rescue operations. I have used rescue 8s for decades (military and LE SAR) and have never had control issues.

Last edited by Hairball; 10-12-2017 at 6:25 PM..
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