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This plan doesn't sound so simple to me, but I suspect the prose style has something to do with that.
A FIRE ESCAPE.A correspondent suggests the following simple plan for a fire escape :— 1st. Two ropes of 40 feet in length, each attached to a small chain also 40 feet in length, the end of each chain armed with a spring hook. 2nd. A stout sack of incombustible material (like the fire-proof dresses),open mouthed, with a metallic rim, about four feet deep, and wide enough to hold two persons, with two spring hooks on the opposite sides of the metallic rim, and connected therewith by a small chain of 9 inches long.
These articles should be brought to the spot on the first alarm of fire by a police constable. One rope and chain should be carried into the house next adjoining on the right of the one on fire, and while the rope is held fast, the chain should be dropt from the upper window till it touches the pavement; and the same should be done with the other rope and chain from the house on the left side; the two chains should then be hooked together by the policemen or neighbours. The escape sack should immediately be attached to the centre of the combined chains, and be rapidly drawn up to any window where a person may appear in danger. The moment the individual has got into the sack, one rope must be eased off, so as to allow the other rope to become perpendicular, when the rescued party may be taken in at a lower window of the neighbouring house, or lowered to the pavement; the rescuers giving the rope a half turn round a bed post, so that the lowering may be effected discreetly. It need scarcely be added, that this operation may be repeated several times in a minute, if there should be more individuals to be rescued. The sack, when manufactured, should be steeped in some solution prepared to resist combustion, and care should be taken that the ropes are not unnecessarily exposed to flame.
—The Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal, Volume 6, 1843
Illustration: "Fire in London," from the Microcosm of London Vol II, courtesy Internet Archive.