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