New Scientist has a cool piece on an invention idea from an Israeli inventor, Eliyahu Nir. Nir was thinking about the number of lives lost in fire accidents due to the time it takes firefighters to retrieve people and carry them down ladders, especially in taller buildings.

So, here's his idea:

A specialised emergency truck would carry an extendible boom that could be raised to a window in a burning building. Jaws at the top of the boom would then expand to clamp a small platform inside the window frame, while a spiralling tube would be dropped from the frame down to the ground.

Anyone trapped inside the building could then step out of the window, onto the platform and into the mouth of the tube. Before they know it they are spiralling safely down to the ground. Nir claims that friction and the tube's twisted shape should slow their descent, while a soft mat laid on the street below would break their fall.