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Easy evacuation


TWO RECENT amendments to the Pirelli building's evacuation procedures enabled terror struck occupants to escape more quickly in the minutes after it was hit by a plane, NCE can report.

The more direct procedure adopted since the World Trade Center tragedy helped to evacuate an estimated 300 to 500 workers in seven minutes, according to Regione Lombardia (RL) engineer Franco Caputo.

Under the old procedure, an alarm would be raised and two evacuation monitors on each floor would wait for an order to start evacuating, said Caputo. Now evacuatation is started immediately. 'We decided the most important thing is to get all the people out before the firefighters start ascending the building by the same staircases, ' he said.

Floor by floor evacuation of the building, that can hold 1,300 people, was also abandoned.

Successful total evacuation of the building was helped by the fact that floors 27 to 30 are unoccupied while asbestos is being taken out. Floors 12 to 13 are also empty.

One woman was lifted down in a wheelchair and a pregnant woman guided down, suffering from shock.

'No one was panicking or shouting as we left the building, ' said lawyer Francesco Barasi.

'We just went down the stairs one by one.'

Under RL's emergency plan, up to 50 people working on each floor are split into two groups and guided to staircases in the concrete cores at the two ends of the building.

One monitor ensures that half the people go to one staircase and half to the other.

There is space for 25 people on the landing of the staircase protected by fire doors if the stairs are blocked with people.

Another monitor ensures that no one tries to use the lifts and that everyone gets out.

All six lifts in the centre of the building were immobilised by the explosion. Three people stuck in the lifts on the lower floors after the impact were winched to safety up the lift shaft. Surrounding buildings were evacuated and the area cordoned off, causing chaos as 3M Milanese made their way home from work.

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