The Economist has this week a strange piece about a russian invention that aim at surviving fire in high-rises.
a new way of clocking up air miles was to be found. It looks like a small, orange, inflatable swimming pool with a pointy underside. And strapped inside it is a Biggles-like doll complete with goggles, moustache and flying scarf. It is an escape-pod for people trapped in tall, burning buildings. And it is the product of the Lavochkin Association, an aerospace firm based in Khimki, near Moscow.
(...) There is, at the moment, no convenient way to leave a tall building if the emergency staircases are on fire and the fire brigade has not arrived or its ladders will not reach. Nor are conventional parachutes an answer. As is well known to participants in the sport of Base Jumping (a mind-bogglingly dangerous activity that involves parachuting from static objects), parachutes have problems when launched from tall buildings. For a start, they may not have time to open properly. Even if they do, they can get snagged on the way down. And on top of that, if a building is burning they are liable to catch fire. Hence the Lavochkin escape pod—or “rescue system”, as the firm prefers to call it.