Saving lives in Tower Block fires.
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As I watched the people at the windows of the upper floors of Grenfell House waving to plead for help it seemed to me that the answer to the problem was so obvious that it must have been rejected for some reason I do not understand.
The fire brigade made a brave and determined attempt to limit the spread of the fire up and around the building, but their success was restricted to the areas they could cover by spraying water up in the air towards the building. This was limited by the reach of their equipment to only half of the building. Above that it was free to climb and spread uncontrolled.
The obvious answer is to apply the water at the top of the building and let gravity carry it down. People escaping at ground level would not object to having to run through a heavy rain of water even if it was quite hot.
Every building has a mains water supply up to the very top. To supply the ring of water sprinklers it may need to be uprated.
There could also be fitted a connection at ground level for the Fire Fighters to change the water supply to connect to fire resistant foam as used in aircraft fire fighting.
This installation would cost a fraction of the cost of replacing all cladding to thousands of buildings currently at risk. It could be carried out in months rather than the years it will take to replace all building claddings.
It could even cancel the need to fit sprinklers in all the rooms of a tower block. having a chip fire in a kitchen is a disaster and can be lethal to those in the room, but these buildings are designed with solid partition walls to prevent the spread of the fire to other flats, portable fire extinguishers can help until the fire fighters can arrive.
I expect that there is already a system that automatically cuts the supply of gas to a unit where there is a fire alarm that has been triggered. If not that would be good to have it installed.
We need these buildings both for housing and for working spaces they cannot be all pulled down so this suggestion should be considered or if anyone can explain why it is impossible to install or would not work I would like to hear it.
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