Petzl, world leader in vertical access and rescue equipment, is proud to announce that it will supply the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) with EXO descent control devices and other components of a personal safety system to be issued to their 11,000 frontline firefighters. The development of this system was the result of a strong partnership between the experts of vertical access equipment and the experts in the world of firefighting.
The FDNY sought a rapid, lightweight and effective safety system following a tragic incident that occurred earlier this year. In January 2005, six firefighters, responding to a three-alarm fire, became trapped in a blazing Bronx apartment building. Four of the firefighters were seriously injured as they attempted to escape out a fourth story window and the two other suffered fatal injuries after falling nearly 50 feet.
Following this incident, the FDNY immediately began to investigate and research a personal emergency safety system that would provide each individual firefighter the means to rapidly exit a burning multistory building. The FDNY performed one of the most comprehensive studies of personal safety systems ever undertaken. Over 40 designs were examined and more than 5,000 tests were conducted at the fire department's training facility in New York City .
Months of intensive research convinced the FDNY that the new bail-out kit must be light and compact, easy to deploy, permit rapid use, and be compatible with 7.5mm heat resistant escape line. During their extensive evaluation of available descent control devices, the fire department approached Petzl to develop a product that would respond to their rigorous demands.
Petzl mobilized to meet the challenge. Several months of collaborative research and product development between the FDNY, Petzl's designers produced the EXO. It is modeled after the GRIGRI, Petzl's proven belay/rappel device, and was designed to be compatible with the department's system specification and performance requirements. When used with a heat resistant escape line, a specially designed anchor, a connector and a harness, it forms a system that allows trained personnel to exit a burning building very rapidly. This system, along with the utilization techniques and protocols developed jointly by the FDNY and Petzl, will be standard issue for all of the department's frontline firefighters.