Thomas Ross of Sydney, New South Wales, invented the “Ross Patent Portable Fire Escape”. In Victoria it was filed as patent No 6650 on the 2nd of April 1889 and in the US was filed as US patent 434888 dated August 19, 1890.
Why the Ferguson & Urie premises at 10 Collins Street was selected for the demonstration is a mystery.
The Argus, Melbourne, 7th November 1889, page 11.
“THE ROSS PATENT PORTABLE FIRE ESCAPE. A PUBLIC EXHIBITION Of the above will be given at Messrs. Ferguson and Urie’s Buildings, Collins-street east, TODAY, At 11 a.m. Sole Agents – BARNETT BROS. 407 Collins-street.”
“New FIRE-ESCAPE.-A public exhibition of a new fire-escape, known as “The Ross Portable Fire-escape,” was given recently at Messrs. Fergusson and Urie’s establishment in Collins-street, Melbourne. The appliance consists simply of a moderately stout asbestos or fire-proof rope, which is fixed to the upper windows of a building by an ordinary staple. The rope is wound round a drum or reel provided for the purpose, and as soon as a fire originates this is thrown out into the street. Attached to the rope, and running along it, is a metal brake fitted with antifrictional grooves. This brake carries a broad sling, which is passed under the armpits of the person desiring to escape. Then by holding the rope gently in the hand, he can regulate the speed with which he descends to the ground. No fewer than three descents were made by Mr. Thos. Ross, the inventor. He left the top story, which is about 70 ft. in height, and showed how simply the invention worked by stopping himself several times in his descent, and by decreasing and increasing his speed at will. Other advantages claimed for the patent are that it is oheap and easily port able, and that it can be fixed in position in a few moments. – Melbourne Argus.”