After two FDNY firefighters died and four others were critcally injured after jumping from the window of a burning building in January 2005, the Department ordered the development of a personal safety system to replace the ropes firemen had been carrying with them.
The first design, costing over a million dollars, injured several firefighters during required training and was soon withdrawn. The product of the next design, completed in 2006, was distributed to 11,500 FDNY members at a cost of 4 million dollars. However, this invention uses a rope of only 50 feet, so that it cannot be effectively used for heights over 6 floors.
Several EasyDown descenders can be located at selected floors of high-rise buildings along with the standpipes and firehoses. In an emergency, the firefighter slips into the harness of the descender and heads to the closest window or other exit. He attaches the end of the steel cable to any stationary object and proceeds to descend at a predetermined and safe rate. At the same time, he can use a handbrake to slow down or even stop so as to re-enter the building at a floor below the fire
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