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Popular Science 1977


First Article about The Zephinie Escape Chute

Popular Science 1977

Both articles were published by UTC-Otis Press Relation department.

Image text: The sleeve exerts an elastic pressure which enables evacuees to control their falling speed simply by spreading elbows and knees.



The unique Otis Evacuation System provides swift and easy escape from high places in emergency situations



By Trebor Namiaz


Bernard Faurobert, a bearded Parisian with the nervy nonchalance of a movie stuntman and the persuasive charm of a Pied Piper, usually jumps out of an upper story window or into a deep, narrow interior building shaft at least once a day somewhere in France. These feats of derring-do are an important part of his job and, despite outward appearances, they are completely without hazard. In fact. he finds them easy and fun. But inducing people to follow him is understand ably difficult — and at this task he is highly successful.

Faurobert is a sales executive for Ascinter Otis in Paris. His current work does not involve the company’s traditional elevator products.

Instead, he heads up the marketing effort in France for a unique new life-saving device made of special fabric and bearing the appearance of a long white sleeve.

Called the Otis Evacuation Sys tem, this sleeve is designed to be deployed from windows or down shafts inside buildings for use in evacuating people under conditions of fire. Extended from an overhead cable car or from a ceiling-level, factory-traversing cab, it can pro- vide escape for people in other emergency situations. In any application, it affords a simple and swift journey to safety. One needs only to enter the sleeve feet first and

Begin a slow, gentle slide to the ground, keeping the rate of descend at a comfortable pace by extending knees and elbows against the Fabric

Faurobert and his crew have already sold and installed more than 300 of the escape systems through out France, and in most cases the sale was clinched after Faurobert had coaxed the apprehensive customer into following him on a trial trip down the sleeve.

“1 talk them into trying it out usually from three or four stories up,” Faurobert says. They always come down enthusiastic.

Faurobert’s counterpart in Spain Conde Parras of Zardoya Otis, it



Bernard Faurobert, Ascenter Otis sales executive, demonstrates how the live- saving evacuation system works


People can carry children or babies in their arms and still negotiate the evacuation system with no trouble.


In some installation entry to the evacuation system is gained trough a trap in the floor, as demonstrated by Faurobert


They must time their entry into the sleeve so as not to land atop someone in transit from an upper floor. Such timing is easy since bodies moving downward in the sleeve are plainly discernible by the big bulges they make. A multiple entry single sleeve unit is actually a succession of sleeves, each partially penetrating the other, aligned along the same vertical axis and secured at each floor. Thus, people from ah floors can enter the same sleeve unit in The same general time frame and sure to safety.




At the winter resorts of Tignes and Montgenevre in the French Alps, the Otis system is standard equipment aboard the cable cars that carry skiers up the mountains.

‘The Tignes cable car is a large one with a capacity of 92 passengers,” says Faurobert.

We simulated an emergency situation with also a bearded man and he and his crew use similarly persuasive tactics that have resulted in sales of more than 200 sleeves in their country.

The escape system was originated in 1968 by Gerard Zephinie, a 35-year-old French inventor. He tried unsuccessfully to sell the product himself until 1975 when he awarded marketing rights to Ascenter Otis for France and Zardoya Otis for Spain. Then he and Otis engineers undertook a research and development program that refined production and application methods.

The result is a practical live saving system consisting of three con centric sleeves:

1. An internal lining sleeve, the one in which people slide, resists tensile forces.


• 2. An elasticized braking sleeve, cover Sleeve 1, enables the evacuee lo control his failing speed.

3. A non-flammable outer sleeve protects the other two sleeves from tire.

The three-sleeve un it, when slack, has a circumference slightly less than that of an average human body. Thus when an evacuee inter the system and begins his slide, the elastic braking sleeve expands radically and exerts an elastic pressure which permits him to control his failing speed simply by spreading elbows and knees. A total stop al any time is also easily attainable in this manner.

in thousands of drills, the system has worked perfectly. Employees in office buildings, students in schools. And even patients in hospital have slide down the sleeve without mishaps, not even friction burns. People have carried babies and small children down in their arms with no trouble; there is even a procedure for handling unconscious people and stretcher patients.

“The system has not been used under actual tire or emergency conditions as yet,” says Faurober “because there have been no tires or emergencies in any of the locations where our sleeves are installed. But I have the utmost confidence that the system will work perfectly, no matter what happens.”

The rate of evacuation differs from installation lo installation, says, but it is possible for as many as 30 peoples a minute to slide to safety in a single sleeve. In a large building equipped with. 25 sleeves, 7.500 people could be evacuated in as little as 10 minutes.

A single sleeve unit in a multi storied building easily accommodates people from all floors, although


Second article


Those two articles show that UTC have been obliged to blackout the ZEC in the USA.

However those two articles violated agreements made in Europe forbidding UTC-Otis to make PR disclosure on the ZEC in the USA without prior accord with Zephinie.  


This second article of popular science by Brenda Becker  that reproduce the positive comments of the first but was machined by Otis spokesman Bob Zaimed  to say wrongly that Otis will not market the Otis system in the USA sic "because of our the relatively long history of fire regulations, almost here have some sort of escape route already" As it was has proven by WTC's disaster!

At this time the serious suspicion of unfair attitude from the NY local Otis elevator company that has leaded to a convention between Zephinie and Otis Europe to forbid NY to damage the Marketing image of the product in the USA.
In fact the NY Otis operation was heavily depending of good relation with NY fire authorities. The conspiracy of complex conflict of interests stated to discourage any Companies interested to market the ZEC in the USA.   

Popular Science has used the ZEC image in the back of the envelop of its national advertising mailing.

This photo from Jasques Boissay has been published millions of time worldwide having won the International Fugicolor price of press photography   



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