When it comes to fire-related accidents, we all like to think that we’re as prepared as we can be. However, the reality is that sometimes, the best-laid plans can, quite literally, go up in smoke.
Fire alarms, extinguishers, fire blankets, and escape plans are all crucial steps to take when ensuring the safety of yourself and your family in the event of a fire. With that being said, there is one piece of vital fire safety equipment that often gets overlooked: the fire escape ladder.
A fire escape ladder is essentially an emergency escape route that you can install in your home in case one or all of your primary escape routes become blocked during a fire.
By attaching a fire escape ladder to your window, you’ll be ensuring that should anyone become trapped on an upper floor during a fire, that person will have a reliable means of escape.
Fire escape ladders obviously aren’t something to take chances with in terms of quality and functionality. That’s why we’ve done some extensive research to bring you our reviews of the top 5 fire escape ladders on the market.
Remember to consult our buyer’s guide and FAQ sections for further information!
OUR TOP PICK
In our opinion, you won’t find a better fire ladder than the Kidde 2-Story Fire Escape Ladder based on all-around functionality and quality of construction.
This fire escape ladder is made from rugged zinc-plated steel, so it’s incredibly strong and wear-resistant. In fact, the Kidde 2-Story Fire Escape Ladder is so resistant to damage that it’s actually flame-resistant and can support weights up to 1,000 lbs!
One of our favorite things about this fire escape ladder is its anti-tangle construction. The very last thing you need in an emergency situation where you’ve been forced to deploy your fire escape ladder is to realize that the ladder is completely tangled.
Luckily, this won’t ever happen with the Kidde 2-Story Fire Escape Ladder because of the tangle-free design.
Plus, the ladder comes completely assembled on arrival and doesn’t require any tools for installation.
Instead, the ladder can be hooked into the majority of standard-build windows for maximum compatibility and a quick, easy set-up - which is exactly what you need in a high-pressure situation.
What buyers will need to remember, however, is that this is a single-use ladder. It is not intended for repeated use after being initially deployed, so if you’ve had to use your Kidde 2-Story Fire Escape Ladder, you will need to purchase a new one.
- Zinc-plated steel - Tough and flame-resistant
- Anti-tangle construction - Ergonomic and quick to deploy
- 1,000 lb weight limit - Very strong
- Compatible with most standard windows - Easy installation
- No assembly required - Ready to use immediately
- Single-use - Replace after deploying
This option is a little more expensive than our best overall pick, but the First Alert Two-Story Fire Escape Ladder is a highly durable and practical ladder for enhancing the fire safety of your home.
First Alert has ensured the durability of its Two-Story Fire Escape Ladder by constructing it mainly out of steel.
Steel has a high level of heat resistance as well as wear resistance. Because of these features, you can rely on the First Alert ladder to provide a reliable escape route when all else fails.
In addition to the steel build, First Alert has incorporated nylon straps with a high tensile strength rating into the construction of this fire escape ladder.
Because of this, the ladder is capable of supporting up to 1,125 lbs in weight, so it should never have a problem holding anybody up safely.
This fire escape ladder comes pre-assembled so there’s no need for any DIY prior to installation.
You can even buy several of these ladders in a multipack in case you want to extend your emergency exit options or have a spare in the unlikely event that it becomes damaged.
However, we would not recommend this fire escape ladder if you have particularly large or thick window frames. This is because the bars that hook around the window frame to deploy the ladder are relatively small and may not fit larger frames.
- Steel build - Heat-resistant and durable
- Nylon straps - High tensile strength
- Supports 1,125 lbs - Extremely strong and reliable
- Multipacks available - Allows for spares
- Pre-assembled - Easy to install and use
- Small attachment bars - May not be suitable for thick-framed windows
We believe that everyone should have access to affordable fire safety equipment. That’s why we’ve included our best value pick in today’s article, which is the QWORK Emergency Fire Ladder.
Unlike the ladders we have previously reviewed, this one is made from lengths of thick, polyester rope. This might not sound as stable and secure as other fire safety ladders, but polyester rope is actually a very tough and durable material.
In this case, the rope can hold up to 2000 lbs of weight, so there’s no need to worry about it breaking under you.
The rope is paired with strong, non-slip resin that helps to ensure users’ safety on the way down the ladder.
Carabiner attachments are provided with the purchase of the QWORK ladder. These can be used to attach the ladder to any railings or other suitable structure on or around your window.
Again, however, we should stress that this is not a ladder designed for long-term use. After you’ve used it once, it’s best to invest in a new one to ensure that neither the fire nor the traffic on the ladder impacts its future functionality.
- Polyester rope - Heavy-duty
- Non-slip resin - Enhances safety
- 2,000 lb weight limit - Highly durable
- Includes carabiner attachments - Clips onto railings
- Affordably-priced - Budget-friendly
- Not for repeated use - Replace after deployment
Sometimes, it’s worth having more than just the basics to hand in case of an emergency. Planning for a fire escape is one of those times. For this reason, we’d also like to recommend the Emergency Fire Safety Escape Kit from EFE.
The main item contained in this Fire Safety Escape Kit is the aluminum 2-story ladder, which has a weight limit of 992 lbs. This means that it is both lightweight, due to its aluminum construction, and strong enough to withstand very heavy loads.
Also included in this kit is a pair of heat-resistant gloves. Because aluminum can be quite conductive in terms of heat, wearing protective gloves is the best way to keep your hands safe while using the ladder.
The gloves will also help to guard against excessive heat and provide protection in the event of contact with the fire itself.
You’ll also find a fire blanket amongst the items in this pack, which is useful as a shield for protection or, alternatively, for extinguishing smaller fires.
However, like most fire blankets, we’d only recommend that you use it on the fire itself if the area of the fire is smaller than that of the blanket and if it is a Class K fire.
Finally, you’ll receive a fireproof bag. We recommend that you use this as soon as you receive the kit and put any valuables in it that you want to shield in the event of a fire.
Remember: when evacuating a building because of fire, you shouldn’t stop to take any of your belongings with you. Therefore, it helps to have sensitive documents, passports, and money in a fireproof bag.
All of the above items come in a fabric case as a practical and space-efficient storage option.
While there is really very little for us to criticize here, we did notice that the storage case doesn’t come with a handle. This is a very small issue, but it does make the case (and, therefore, the kit) slightly less portable.
- 992 lb ladder weight limit - Supports heavy loads
- Heat-resistant gloves - Includes hand protection
- Fire blanket - For protection or extinguishing
- Included fireproof bag - Keeps your valuables safe
- Comes in case - Great for storage
- No handle on case - Not the best for portability
Last but absolutely not least, the Hausse Retractable 3-Story Fire Escape Ladder is the best option if you’re looking for an extra-long ladder that you can rely on for a way out of taller than average buildings.
Measuring 25 feet at full extension, this fire escape ladder is long enough to get you safely out of 3-story buildings when other exits are unusable.
The metal rungs and supporting rope can hold 1000 lbs at any one time, so getting out quickly and safely should never be an issue.
Speaking of the rungs, each rung on this ladder has grooves cut into it to provide a non-slip surface, enhancing the safety of the ladder as a whole.
We also like that the frame is v-shaped, meaning that it’s wider at the bottom than at the top. This provides better stability and reduces nerve-inducing wobbling.
A convenient storage bag is also provided with the ladder so that you can neatly store it out of the way until it needs to be deployed.
Once you have deployed and used it, however, you will need to buy a replacement because this ladder is designed for one-time use.
- 3-story - 25 foot extension
- 1000 lbs maximum weight - Solid and reliable
- V-shaped frame - Additional stability
- Grooved rungs - Non-slip
- Storage bag included - Space-efficient
- One-time use - Must be replaced after deployment
Fire Escape Ladder Buyer’s Guide: What to Look For
You don’t want to skip over anything important when buying something as essential as a fire escape ladder. Check out this guide full of criteria to consider before you commit to your purchase.
Height / Size
There are plenty of important features to think about when searching for the perfect fire escape ladder, but the most crucial of all is the height or size of the ladder.
For a fire escape ladder to be an effective and reliable escape method, it needs to be long enough to reach from the top story of your home to the floor, or close enough to the floor that jumping down will not be dangerous for anyone who might use the ladder.
The most common size for fire escape ladders is 2-story, although it’s also easy enough to find 3-story ladders, albeit at higher prices.
In most cases, 2-story fire escape ladders will measure anywhere between 13 feet and 15 feet long. 3-story ladders are, predictably, significantly longer, and can measure between 25 and 32 feet.
As for 4-story ladders, these are more difficult to come across and the demand is not as high, which is why we haven’t included any in our list of top products. However, they often measure in excess of 50 feet.
As you can see from the estimates provided above, not all fire escape ladders designed for the same story are the same length.
They can often vary by as much as a few feet. Therefore, it’s very important that you check the exact measurements of a fire escape ladder before you purchase it, and compare the length with the distance from your top story window(s) to the ground outside.
Weight / Weight Limits
There is quite a lot of variety in terms of how heavy fire escape ladders can be. Some can be as light as 7 lbs, while others can present a significant physical burden, weighing closer to 30 lbs.
Often, the materials used in the construction of the ladder will play a role in dictating how light or heavy it is. For example, aluminum is a very lightweight metal, so aluminum ladders are likely to be on the lighter side.
However, steel ladders may well be heavier. The weight will also depend on the size of the ladder (see above).
When choosing a fire escape ladder, it’s important to choose a ladder that doesn’t weigh more than you or other people in your household can carry. Otherwise, deployment may become difficult, or even impossible.
You should also verify the maximum weight limit of a fire escape ladder before purchase. All good fire escape ladders will have a high weight limit, usually ranging from just under 1,000 lbs and 2,000 lbs.
The majority of fire escape ladders (the ones that aren’t built-in, at any rate) work by attaching to a windowsill or window frame and lowering down to the ground below.
Therefore, before you settle on your new fire escape ladder, it’s well worth checking the quality and size of the attachment mechanism.
The most common type of attachment found in fire escape ladders is simply the use of curved bars which hook around the bottom of the window frame to secure the ladder. This is a simple and effective way of attaching a fire escape ladder to a window.
The only thing to bear in mind is that not all attachment bars are made equal, and some are designed to fit slimmer window frames than others.
Before you press ‘add to cart,’ we recommend looking for specific dimensions and measurements with regard to any attachment bars and comparing them to measurements of your window frame.
If you can’t find these in the product guidelines, it’s still better to go through the process of contacting the manufacturer than to find yourself with a fire escape ladder that you can’t use.
The other common method of attachment for fire escape ladders is the use of carabiners. Carabiners are metal hook-like devices that fasten securely through the use of a tightening mechanism.
You may have seen or used them if you’ve ever tried abseiling or climbing as an activity.
Carabiners are a strong and reliable method of attaching your fire escape ladder, but they only really work if you have railings or some kind of strong, secure bar in the vicinity of your window. They also take longer to fasten and secure than attachment bars.
Ease of Use
Deploying and climbing down your fire escape ladder in time can literally be the difference between life and death. Therefore, a fire ladder needs to be as easy to deploy and use as possible.
One thing we highly recommend is an anti-tangle or tangle-free design. This type of construction prevents the rungs and supporting ropes of the ladder from becoming tangled, thus making deployment easier and quicker to deploy.
Once you’ve deployed the ladder, it’s also crucial that you are able to make your descent quickly and safely. Non-slip rungs with texturing or grooves help to keep your feet stable as you climb, minimizing the risk of accidents.
Similarly, a v-shaped frame (meaning a ladder frame that is wider at the bottom than at the top) increases stability for an easier climb.
Some manufacturers allow you to buy their fire escape ladders in multipacks. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, it’s always a good idea to station fire escape ladders at multiple upstairs windows to cover for every eventuality.
Secondly, many fire escape ladders are single-use, meaning that they can’t be reused once they have been deployed.
Before you buy your fire escape ladder, it’s important to check whether it is suitable for reuse or not. If it is reusable, we recommend that you conduct at least one practice fire escape drill using the ladder when it arrives.
This way, you can ensure that everyone in your household knows what to do if they ever need to use the ladder.
If your preferred fire escape ladder is single-use, we recommend buying at least 2 so that once you’ve used the first one, you can always have one to spare.
If you choose to opt for a fire escape kit that contains a ladder (see ‘Best Kit’ above), you’ll likely receive some other fire safety equipment.
Fire safety gloves will help to protect your hands from heat, while a fire blanket can both extinguish smaller Class K fires and act as a safety shield.
A fireproof bag can be a really useful tool for keeping important documents and valuable items safe during a fire.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need a fire escape ladder?
If you live in a home with multiple stories, or in an apartment that isn’t on the ground floor, you need a fire escape ladder in case your usual exit route becomes blocked during a fire.
If you were to become trapped on a higher floor of a building during a fire, you would normally be left with two options: wait for the fire brigade, or when the situation becomes particularly desperate, jump.
Neither of these options is ideal and they can both lead to tragic consequences.
With a fire escape ladder, you don’t have to settle for either of these options. This is why we recommend having a fire escape ladder in your home, just in case.
Where should I put my fire escape ladder?
You don’t need to attach your fire escape ladder to your window until you need to use it. Therefore, you’ll need to find somewhere safe and accessible to store it until it is required.
We recommend keeping your fire escape ladder in a designated place near a compatible window until the time comes for you to deploy it. Often, fire escape ladders come in storage cases to help with storage.
Ultimately, a good storage space for a fire escape ladder is somewhere you can remember, access quickly easily, and is as close as possible to your emergency escape route (window).
If you live in a home that has multiple floors, or in an apartment that isn’t on the ground floor, we can’t recommend a fire escape ladder strongly enough.
In addition to fire extinguishers, fire blankets, fire alarms, and a detailed fire escape plan, a fire escape ladder will help to keep you and members of your household safe even in the most dangerous situations.
Remember to check the height, weight, weight limit, and attachment mechanism of a fire escape ladder before purchasing it so that you know how compatible it will be with your home.
Please also bear in mind that this article should not be used as a substitute for professional advice. It’s important that you do your due diligence and thoroughly research any fire safety product you purchase yourself.
The content of this article is based exclusively on our own research and is not intended to serve as an authoritative text on the subject of fire safety.