Orville Douglas Denison, 72, has been modeling his inventions since he was a child, even receiving recognition for his aeronautics concepts that were published in the Academy of Model Aeronautics when he was just 15 years old. However, it was the events of 9/11 that led to one of his most common-sense inventions: a new type of ladder that can be used on fire trucks in order to quickly evacuate victims and first responders.

Denison said that on 9/11, occupants of the World Trade Center were unable to exit via the interior staircases, and many firefighters who perished did so trying to assist with the evacuation. He began studying fire-rescue technology, including ways to develop a more efficient rescue approach.

After years of research, Denison developed a prototype hydraulic- or electric-powered ladder system. The system consists of a power source and two cables running at each end of the ladder rungs. The cables rotate and grab the rungs and pull them forward or backward. Firefighters step on to the ladder, which can be controlled, stopped, forward or reversed either by an operator below or via a handheld remote control. The model ladder system moves at 200 feet per minute, he said.

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