A Guide To Fire Escape Ladders

Last updated: August 14, 2023


If you don’t already own a fire escape ladder, investing in one for your building can help ensure that you and your loved ones can quickly escape in the event of a fire. Ready explains how even a small fire can quickly turn into a huge blaze without any warning. 

In fact, a small flame can become a major fire in under 30 seconds, reaching temperatures of 100 degrees at floor level and up to 600 degrees at eye level. In a matter of minutes, your house can be filled with deadly smoke that can lead to asphyxiation. 

During a fire, it’s best to stay close to the ground and make your way to the nearest exit. This way, you can avoid the poisonous fumes that collect along the ceiling. In addition, having a fire escape ladder handy can aid your escape from upper story windows. 

Choosing a Fire Escape Ladder for Your Building

Due to the variety of fire escape ladders currently on the market today, there are several factors you should take into account when you’re purchasing a fire escape ladder. If your exit is blocked for instance, a window fire escape ladder is ideal for a quick getaway.  

Factors To Consider for Various Fire Escape Ladders

Total Length

One of the most important factors to consider is the total length of your fire escape ladder. It must be long enough to aid your reach from the window to the ground, or it will be difficult to use. 

If you have younger children in your family, considering the total distance between the rungs is also vital. 

In most cases, it’s better to go for a longer ladder instead of one that’s too short. Even if you have limited storage space, a retractable fire escape ladder or a foldable escape ladders can be easily stored under or your bed or in your closet. 

Build Quality 

A sturdy ladder from a reputable brand should be one also of your top priorities. Choose a fire escape ladder with a higher weight capacity for some peace of mind. 

In some cases, a permanent fire escape ladder may be more capable of supporting multiple family members. 

Ease of Use

During an emergency, a complicated fire escape ladder can cause added stress and waste your time. Finding a ladder that’s easy to set up and use can eliminate this issue. It’s also a good idea to practice using the ladder beforehand so that your family is prepared when the time comes. 

Purchase Cost

The best fire escape ladder for you and your family strikes an ideal balance between quality and cost. With some research, you can find a drop down fire escape ladder or a permanent fire escape ladder that fits within your budget and other specifications. 

Types of Fire Escape Ladders

Because of the wide range of fire escape ladders that’s currently available on the market, it can be a struggle to decide which model is the right fit for you. 

Learning about the pros and cons of each type can simplify your decision-making process and help you choose the best fire escape ladder. 

Permanent Fire Escape Ladder

Often, time is of the essence when you’re using a window fire escape ladder. A permanent fire escape ladder has the bonus of being ready when you need it, as its typically built in under a window. 

However, you may have to call a handyman to help you out with the installation process.

Retractable Fire Escape Ladder

A variant of the portable fire escape ladder is a retractable fire escape ladder, which hooks over most frames or sills during use. Some retractable ladders are single use, so you may not be able to practice drills with them. 

Drop-Down Escape Ladder 

In the event of an emergency, a permanently fixed drop-down escape ladder can fold out from a compact unit into a safe and sturdy ladder. All you need to do is pull out a lock pin and the ladder will fold out instantly.  

Best Fire Escape Ladders to Buy 

Here are some of our top picks for the best fire escape ladder for your building. We’ve included both portable fire escape ladders and permanent fire escape ladders depending on which you prefer. 

X-IT Emergency Fire Escape Ladder 

The X-IT ladder is a retractable fire escape ladder that weighs a mere 10 pounds. It comes in lengths of 13 to 53 feet, suitable for most buildings. It also comes in a bright yellow storage bag which is easy to find during an emergency along with instructions printed on the cover. 

ISOP Emergency Fire Escape Rope Ladder

A great alternative to a drop down fire escape ladder is this model from ISOP. It can hold an impressive 2000 pounds, carrying up to 7 people at a time. 

It’s a safe window fire escape ladder, coming with an optional full-body harness and safety line to prevent any risky falls. However, it is fairly heavy, weighing in at 20 pounds. 

Werner ESC330 Fire Escape Ladder

The Werner ladder is a permanent fire escape ladder that can carry up to 1,200 pounds  and evacuate multiple members of your household at once. 

Its width is suitable for windows between 6 and 13 inches, and it also comes with anti-slip rungs to ensure a safe exit. It also comes with a 6 year limited warranty. 

Low-Cost Fire Escape Ladders 

When you’re choosing a fire escape ladder, it’s vital to avoid compromising on quality in an effort to cut down on costs. Ideally, a window fire escape ladder that offers the best of both worlds to maximize your safety. 

Kidde Fire Escape Ladder 

True to its name, the Kidde fire escape ladder is a fantastic emergency fire escape ladder for families with kids. It is also extremely light to carry at 8 pounds and can be quickly attached to a window. 

For this reason, it makes a great portable fire escape ladder at a budget price. Compared to a drop down fire escape ladder, it can be used in multiple windows. 

Hausse 3-Story Retractable Fire Escape Ladder

Unlike a permanent fire escape ladder, the affordable Hausse fire escape ladder is designed for one-time use. It measures 25 feet long, which suits most third-story homes. 

It also has thick nylon straps and anti-slip rungs, with a sturdy packaging strap that keeps everything neat and tidy in storage until it’s ready to be deployed.  

First Alert Two-Story Fire Escape Ladder

The best fire escape ladder that won’t break the bank is this two-story version from First Alert. 

This escape ladder is 14 feet in length, but can only hold up to 375 pounds which might be a dealbreaker for larger families. On the plus side, it folds down for easy storage and has sturdy steel rungs. 

Takeaways on Fire Escape Ladders

At the end of the day, it pays off to have a fire escape ladder that can potentially save your life if a fire breaks out. Finding one that matches your building’s height, fits within your budget, and is easy to assemble or use will help promote safety and security. 

If you have a portable fire escape ladder, make sure to store it near the window where it’ll be used. Lastly, doing some fire drills can help you get familiar with your fire escape ladder of choice before an emergency. 

Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any personal fire escape ladder recommendations. 

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