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Fire fears ban visitors from Stuttgart TV tower

Published: 28 Mar 2013 07:58 GMT+01:00

"In the event of a fire the television tower would be a life-threatening trap for visitors," said Fritz Kühn, the southwestern German city's mayor.

The decision to close the 217-metre tower to the public took its operator, broadcaster Südwestrundfunk (SWR) by surprise. "That the television tower now has to be closed for security reasons takes us completely unprepared," said Siegfried Dannwolf, manager of SWR Media Services on Wednesday.

But Kühn said there was no other option - and there was unlikely to be any way the tower could be reopened. He said in an emergency up to 250 people would have to leave via a very narrow stairwell in the tower and that it would take too long for them to get out.

SWR spent millions updating the fire prevention systems in the tower just two years ago, said Dannwolf, saying all authorities had been happy with the renovation measures.

"We will not check how we can fulfil the conditions, which are new for us and which we could not have foreseen. We will have to see whether a financially sound use [of the tower] is even possible," he said.

The tower was opened in 1956, the first steel and concrete television tower in the world. It was taken as an example for many other towers around the world including the Space Needle in Seattle, USA.

Stuttgart's tower, complete with a cafe at the top - as well as rooms full of SWR broadcasting equipment - has long been a popular spot for locals and tourists to visit and take in the view.

But Kühn said if he did not close it now and something happened, it would be an unforgivable error. He said similar towers in Cologne, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Nuremberg had been closed in recent years.

He said further checks would be made after Easter to see if the situation could be changed.

Frank Knödler, head of fire protection at the tower, said there was a sprinkler system and that the technical equipment rooms could be filled with fire-extinguishing carbon dioxide in the case of a fire. But he admitted much of the tower remained flammable. "We sadly only have one emergency exit, and if this were to be blocked, it would present a significant danger," he said.

Three people died in 2000 when Moscow's television tower caught fire.

DPA/The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

08:54 March 28, 2013 by wood artist
Although it may not really be a workable solution, it seems like some sort of strict limit on numbers would be an option. That pretty much closes the cafe, but at least people could take turns...say no more than 10 or 15 at a time, with some time limits. I agree with the risk issue, but some of that other flammable stuff could be removed to make the risk manageable, especially with occupancy limits.

wa
12:06 March 28, 2013 by Zeitgeist Stupido
Just close it off? C¦#39;mon- where¦#39;s the ingenuity here? What about helicopters, ropes, parachutes, wing suits, zip lines for possible fire escape scenarios?
12:32 March 28, 2013 by whiteriver
I also thought about what if they have helicopters ready, but the zip line idea sounds much better. They could implement several cables around the bulb ready to be lowered.
14:18 March 28, 2013 by Stabsfeldwebel
This is so depressing. As an American Soldier, it was one of my favorite places to visit and take friends. I actually bought an annual pass for 2008. I hope a solution is found to keep it open to the public! Stuttgart is one of my favorite cities and the tower would definitely be a place I would visit again.
17:09 March 28, 2013 by Punisherette
A zip line is a bad, bad idea. The fire could damage the cable, it would snap and people would plunge to their deaths!
01:13 March 29, 2013 by wood artist
Maybe just add a really big water slide. It could be inflatable...like the escape chutes on airplanes. That way it wouldn't really mar the view yet still be functional. They could charge more, and promise that the trip down will be really exciting should a fire break out. Mount the chute in a fireproof location so it wouldn't be compromised before everyone is out.

wa
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