TRIZ Paper: TRIZ/USIT Case Study 
Staircases Design of High Buildings Prepared against Fire
Toru Nakagawa (Osaka Gakuin University)
August 7, 15, and 24, 2000 (in Japanese)
English translation by Toru Nakagawa on Aug. 24, 2000.  [posted on Aug. 24, 2000]

Preface   (Toru Nakagawa, Aug. 15, 2000)   [translated into English and posted here on Aug. 24, 2000]

I wrote this paper during my work of Japanese translation of Yuri Salamatov's TRIZ textbook "TRIZ: The Right Solution at the Right Time", being stimulated by one of its exercise problems.  Problem 43 of the textbook describes the difficulty of escaping from and rescuing people from fire of modern high buildings, and shows a design of  Vilchinsky's "gravitational elevator" for urgent evacuation seeking for your further improvement.  While working on the brushing up of our Japanese translation, I was thinking that we should have some more basic and essencial improvement for preparing against fire.

Note:  For a breif introduction to TRIZ and USIT, see (D) of this paper.

Many years ago I saw an American movie "Towering Inferno" (1974) on TV.  It delt with a fire of a skyscraper and gave a shock to the world.  On fire, the elevators do not work, staircases get fire and smoke due to a chimney effect, and people were forced to go up to the rooftop, chased by the burning fire.  I thought, among many other people, that we should have some secure ways to safely escape from fire at high buildings.

While doing the translation work, I thought that we should, first of all, keep the staircases as the safe evacuation routes and that we should avoid the staircases from becoming a chimney in case of fire.  Then I came up with the simple idea that for preventing the chimney effect we should just have big windows on every floor of the staircases.  I wrote it down on a small piece of memo pad at hand.  It was on August 1st, this year.

The idea written on the pad gradually grew in my mind, and I became confident that the idea of setting large openings on every floor at the starcases is simple yet very effective solution to this problem.  So I started to write down my idea in the morning of August 7  at home during the summer vacation.  Soon after starting, I began to use the format of "Description of an Invention" which I used  at Fujitsu Labs for showing inventive ideas to patent specialists for their help.  Following the format, I wrote down my idea with a numbr of small goes and backs; it took me about six hours for the work.  The "Description of an Invention" is posted here in Section (B).

During this writing work, I considered various points and wrote them down in the manuscript.  If you ask me "Did you use TRIZ and/or USIT process?", I feel some difficulty to answer.  I did not used formal processes of TRIZ/USIT, but I certainly used many principles and thinking ways of TRIZ and USIT together with many other experiences and background knowledges in my mind.  I just used all my ability during thinking and writing, without explicitly following any single methodology.   Even so, the following two points are clear:

Fist, in defining the problem, I chose "To keep the staircases safe for evacuation preventing from becoming like a chimney in case of fire".  This problem definition has determined the whole problem solving process for the present work.  I feel I used the USIT's way of thinking for this problem definition process.

Second, I solved the problem with the final solution: "In ordinary times, the staircases are convenient and confortable, located inside the building, and in cases of fire, they are wide opened to outside, serving as the safe evacuation routes and as the bases for firedistinguishing and rescue activities."  This solution clearly reflects the TRIZ' Separation Principle in time.  During solving, I had clear recognitions of a technical contradiction (between convenience/confortability and fire-preparation) and a physical contradiction (i.e., staircases should be located inside and simultaneously outside the building) of this problem.  And I was also well aware of my using the TRIZ way of solving the contradictions.  I became aware of these points right after starting the description work.

After finishing the "Description of an Invention", I thought this solution could become a patent.  So I searched the patent database of Japanese Patent Office on the internet.  Using the keywords "evacuation AND staircases", I got 56 hits of Japanese patents.  Quickly reviewing the patent abstracts, I found nothing relevant.  Furthermore, I have never seen buildings whose staircases are designed in the sense of the present idea.

It was certainly of some interest for me to obtain a patent on this idea, if possible.  But I declined to do so, considering the tedious work of  finding some appropriate collaboration company for filing the patent and of fighting in courts to realize the benefits of the patent.  Moreover, if I should seek for the possibility of patent, this idea would have to be kept secret for a certain period, and would be much delayed and limited in being realized in society.  So having thought for a week, I have decided not to try to file a patent on this idea but to publish it as widely as possible so as to be realized in huge number of buildings in Japan and in the world.  Fortunately, I am in a position to be able to publish this idea freely without requesting any permition from others.

For such a purpose, I am posting this paper publicly in my Web site "TRIZ Home Page in Japan".  As a case study of TRIZ/USIT, this page includes the following three parts:

   (A)  The beginning and background of the present idea   (Aug. 24, 2000)
   (B)  Description of an invention:  "Staircases design of high buildings prepared against fire"   (Aug. 7, 2000)
   (C)  The thinking process and the influences of TRIZ/USIT  (Aug. 24, 2000)

With these three parts, the present author wishes to make clear how the TRIZ/USIT methodology has been actually used in this case of study.

The present author also wishes that this paper should be read as widely as possible in the world to prepare against fire casualty.

(A)  The beginning and background of the present idea   (Aug. 24, 2000)

(B)  Description of an invention:  "Staircases design of high buildings prepared against fire"   (Aug. 7, 2000)

(C)  The thinking process and the influences of TRIZ/USIT  (Aug. 24, 2000)

(D)  Note: A brief introduction to TRIZ and USIT      (Aug. 24, 2000)

Note:  The body of this paper, i.e. (A) (B) (C) (D), will be translated some time later.
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Last updated on Aug. 24, 2000.     Access point:  Editor: