The Unthinkable in the UK

The Unthinkable hits the UK on July 3, 2008.

This is exciting since so much of the book relies on the wisdom of British researchers and survivors. The UK has long been way ahead of most places, including the States, when it comes to fire safety. That’s partly because London burned down twice—in 1212 and 1666. Nothing focuses the research funding like a mass-casualty disaster.

To understand computer models of crowd behavior in fire, I met with Ed Galea, director of the Fire Safety Engineering Group at the University of Greenwich in London. Galea is a smart guy who stubbornly insists we can get better—much better—at designing buildings, ships and airplanes with real people in mind. We met in his office one summer day and spoke without interruption for four hours, surrounded by piles of videotapes, books and photos of tragedies gone by.

GeneralAmanda Ripley