When we moved into our 1960s apartment, it didn’t cross our minds that we needed a fire escape ladder. My partner and I went out for a beer one afternoon and started chatting with a firefighter. He suggested to us that we get an escape ladder. He called our building a ‘fire trap’ that wouldn’t pass code in the 21st Century. We also discovered that 40 people per year die in high rise building fires[Source: NFPA]. So, we decided to look into this!
We decided the EFE Emergency Fire Safety Escape Kit would be a good choice for us. But we thought we’d share our list of the best fire escape ladders that we found while researching for our own circumstances.
We feel the best fire escape ladders are:
- Best Full Kit: EFE Emergency Fire Safety Escape Kit (2 Story)
- Most Popular: ISOP Fire Emergency Ladder (3-4 Story)
- HYNAWIN Anti-Slip Fire Emergency Ladder (2-3 Story)
- Hausse Retractable Fire Emergency Ladder (2-Story)
- Best Value for Money: Kidde 468093 KL-2S (2-Story)
Best Fire Escape Ladders for Homes and Apartments -Comparison Chart
Our ratings below are subjective and based on our research for our circumstances.
Fire Escape Ladder
|1.||EFE Emergency Fire Safety Escape Kit||13 Feet (2 Story)||This is our pick as the best fire escape ladder for our circumstances. It also comes in a great storage bag. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)||
|2.||ISOP Fire Emergency Ladder||30 feet (4 Story)||This one designed for people on the 4th story of an apartment building – it’s got a 30 foot reach. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)||
|3.||Hynawin Anti-Slip Fire Emergency Ladder||15 or 25 feet (2 or 3 Story)||This ladder is designed for quick deployment for low escapes – 2 or 3 story. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)||
|4.||Hausse Retractable Fire Emergency Ladder||13 feet (2 Story)||We like that this 2 story ladder comes in a nice small storage bag. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)||
|5.||Kidde 468093 KL-2S||13 feet (2 Story)||We feel this 13 foot ladder is a very affordable no frills option but it doesn’t come with a storage bag. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)||
Full Reviews of The Best Fire Escape Ladders
1. Best Full Kit: EFE Emergency Fire Safety Escape Kit (2-Story)
This fire escape kit is more than just the ladder. It’s a fire emergency kit for a residential home or apartment. It comes with the ladder, a fire blanket, gloves and a fireproof bag. It’s all wrapped together in a quick access fire emergency kit that makes things easier to store. It’s a great idea for a kit designed to be stored somewhere discrete but accessible for when the time comes.
The ladder itself is for 2 story buildings only, so it’s not ideal for people living on the third floor or above. In that case, we’d consider getting a longer one. Because the ladder is quite short, it also doesn’t come with a safety harness. While this is disappointing, it’s not a deal breaker for us.
- Large, Easy-to-Use Hook: It appears to be a sturdy hook designed to hold fast onto a sturdy balcony or windowsill.
- 2 Story: The 13 feet extension length is designed for a 2-story building (home or apartment).
- Quick Deploy: It comes stored in a red zipped-up kit. It’s clearly designed with quick deployment in mind.
- Holds heavy People: It is advertised as being able to hold 990 pounds of weight – more than enough for ourselves.
- Bonuses: Comes with additional goodies – including heat resistant gloves, a fireproof bag for bringing the passport & important belongings along for the escape, and a fire blanket.
- Light Weight: At 13 pounds (6 kg), it comes in at the average weight for a fire escape ladder. We feel it is light enough that most people would be able to use it.
Keep in Mind:
- No safety harness: Most 2-story ladders don’t come with a safety harness. If a safety harness is a big concern (e.g. if someone in the family is scared of heights), there are other options available such as the ISOP Ladder also on this list.
2. Most Popular: ISOP Emergency Fire Escape Ladder (4-Story)
For people who live on the 3rd or 4th floor of an apartment, a longer ladder may be necessary. We like that one is designed to hold very heavy weights so the ladder itself will be able to handle even very large men climbing down it. It comes with a safety harness, too. Our one main concern is that it connects at the top using carabiners which appears harder to deploy and may not be suitable to everyone.
But we like that the designers have thought about the sort of person who’s scared of heights and wouldn’t dare use an emergency ladder without a harness.
- A 4-Story Option: At 30 feet, it is designed to be usable for up to 4 stories. Compare this, for example, with your ‘average’ fire escape ladder which is usually only about 13 feet.
- Comes with Safety Harness: The safety harness is designed as a backstop to save people if they fall, which is a great design feature that we’re sure many people would love.
- Holds Heavy Weights: Holds up to 2500 pounds – far more than you need.
Keep in Mind:
- Heavier than Competitors: Of course, with more ladder comes more weight. It comes in at 19 pounds (8.5kg).
- Uses Carabiners (not a Hook): This model attaches to a balcony or windowsill via carabiners rather than a hook. Some people feel more at ease with a carabiner method, but it takes up precious time and you’d need to know how to use it before the emergency situation arises (see the produt’s manual) – and there might not be a good option for everyone. It also worries us that people might lock their ladder to a curtain holder or railing that won’t hold their weight. That’s why we prefer large hooks that can hang onto sturdy windowsills appropriately.
- Overall, it’s Fiddly: We like the safety harness concept, but with all the carabiners involved in the descent, we felt that this ladder might consume too much precious time.
3. HYNAWIN Anti-Slip Fire Escape Ladder (2 or 3-Story)
We feel a little more comfortable with aluminum rungs like those on this ladder compared to other rungs made of what feels like rope. Metal underfoot feels sturdier somehow. But with metal rungs also comes the worry that sharp edges might lead to some cuts, so there are pros and cons to this.
But overall, this ladder is what you’d expect from a fire escape ladder: quick release via a velcro strap and sturdy hooks. In fact, we do like the style of hook on this model, which appears sturdy and able to grip well to an appropriate windowsill. Note of course that you need to hook onto a sill that will hold your weight.
Another feature about this model is you can often pick your size on the Amazon checkout. When we first wrote this review article, they had the option for a 50-foot 6 story ladder (crazy high!) but more recently they’ve dropped it down to only 15 foot (2 story) and 25 foot (3 story) options.
- Choose your height: The checkout allows consumer to choose between 15 foot (2 story) and 25 foot (3 story) options.
- Large, Easy-to-Use Hook: Fire escape ladders need a sturdy hook that will hold fast onto a balcony or windowsill. The hook on this one appears to meet that criteria.
- Aluminum Footholds: We always feel more sturdy stepping onto metal footholds than rope ones. These rungs meet that criteria for us.
Keep in Mind:
- Safety Harness: Many buyers might prefer one that includes a safety harness over this model that doesn’t have a harness included at present.
- Aluminum Footholds: You may notice we’ve put the aluminum footholds down as a ‘pro’ and ‘con’ here. The edges of metal footholds may be sharp.
4. Hausse Retractable Fire Escape Ladder (2-Story)
This model is very similar to the one we reviewed above.
The best thing about this ladder is its amazing storage bag. It keeps the ladder in an organized package that should be easy to use and quick to access. It’s also got a large hook for gripping to a windowsill. Aside from those great ‘pros’, this is similar to most other multi-story emergency escape ladders. It’s designed for a 2-story building and deploys 13 feet of ladder.
- 2 Story: The 13 feet extension length is designed for a 2-story building (home or apartment).
- Compact: We love the container that it comes in, which is compact enough to store under a bed or in a cupboard under the sink. We would make sure we store it in an accessible spot near your escape window or balcony.
- Aluminum Footholds: We always feel more sturdy stepping on metal footholds than rope ones.
- Large, Easy-to-Use Hook: We’re very concerned about getting a sturdy hook that will hold fast onto a balcony or windowsill. The hook on this one appears sturdy.
- Light Weight: At 11 pounds (5 kg), it comes in at about the average weight for a fire escape ladder. Light enough that most people in our family could use it.
- Holds heavy People: Designed to hold 1000 pounds of weight.
Keep in Mind:
- Safety Harness: This one also does not include a safety harness.
- Aluminum Footholds: Again, the aluminum footholds are a ‘pro’ and ‘con’ here. The edges of the footholds may be sharp because it’s made of metal.
5. Best Value for Money: Kidde 468093 KL-2S (2-Story)
This ladder is our pick for value for money for us. It’s a basic 2 story 13 foot aluminum ladder, but it’s also lightweight and anti-slip. The main thing that we don’t like about it is that it doesn’t come in a good quality storage container. There are several others that are provided in quality zipper bags, which we’d prefer. But, we’ve highlighted this one as a ‘value for money’ option because it provides the most important things to get started without any additional options that add to the price.
- 2 Story: We fell the 13 feet extension length is good for a 2-story building (home or apartment).
- Lightweight: Coming in at 7 pounds, this is also one of the lighter ladders on the market.
- Anti-Slip Rungs: The steps have grip to prevent slipping on the way out the window.
- Large, Easy-to-Use Hook: We are concerned about getting a sturdy hook that will hold fast onto a balcony or windowsill. The hook on this one appears sturdy.
- Quick Deploy: The release strap is designed for easy deployment (see operating manual).
Keep in Mind:
- Packaging: We do wish it came in a better container. We’d prefer the Hausse red zip-up container, for example.
- Metal Footholds: Again, we’ve put the metal footholds down as a ‘pro’ and ‘con’. The edges of the footholds could be sharp, so care is required.
- Safety Harness: Does not include a safety harness at the time of reviewing.
What we Look for in a Fire Escape Ladder
Different people will want a ladder at different heights based on how far their windowsill is from the ground. Fortunately, most manufacturers provide a guide here. 13-15 foot ladders are often recommended for 2-story homes and apartments. 32 foot ladders are often recommended for 3-story apartments. 50 foot ladders are often recommended for 4-story apartments. See product descriptions for confirmation.
b) Product Weight
People who are small or not strong might want to keep an eye on the weight of the ladders. The weight will range from 7 pounds up to 28 pounds. We think it would be a good idea to have a practice to know how to use the ladder, but some ladders’ manuals read that they’re for one time use only. Read the manuals for confirmation.
c) Attachment Mechanism – Hook vs Carabiner
V-Hooks and carabiners are the two primary ways for attaching a fire safety ladder to your home.
The V-Hooks are designed for very fast deployment and they should grip tight to most windowsills or balconies that have weight bearing capacity.
Carabiners feel somewhat safer as they actually lock to something. However, we worry they might be fiddly, time wasters, and cause the ropes to twist. We also worry that people may attempt to lock carabiners to curtain hooks, which isn’t sturdy enough to hold the weight of a person.
A good quality red storage bag would be ideal. It should be easy to open using a zip or velcro mechanism.
We like to get a model that can be stored under a bed or in a closet. However, we also want to keep in mind that it also needs to be stored close to the escape route.
e) Rung Material
Most rungs are made of metal (aluminum or steel), while others are made of sturdy rope. One thing we’re cautious about is the possibility of of sharp edges on metal rungs. There’s also the option of getting a model that has anti-slip rungs which could make it easier to climb down in high stress moments.
f) Ease of Deployment
A heavier rope will obviously be harder to deploy. We also consider the type of attachment. Hooks may be faster to deploy than carabiners. As we’ve noted earlier, it can be a good idea to practice with the ladder when it arrives to know how to use it in high-stress situations, so long as its manual doesn’t state that it’s single use only. Another thing we think about is knowing what sill we will use so we are confident of exactly where we will deploy the rope when the time comes.
g) Safety Harness
A safety harness is a great additional feature provided for people afraid of heights. The one option on this list that has a safety harness is the ISOP (#2 on the list above). However, note that safety harnesses can take up extra time – and usually a fire escape ladder will only come with one safety harness. So, the next person down will be without the harness for themselves unless there is a way to get it back up the ladder.
Why Do you need a Fire Escape Ladder?
People who live in high-rise apartments need to have an escape route when the fire takes over the stairwells. According to the NFPA (National Fire Prevention Agency), U.S. fire departments respond to about 14,500 high-rise building fires per year. In the U.S., high rise building fires cause 40 deaths per year as well as over 500 injuries.
In your home, you need to think about your 2nd and 3rd Stories. What will you do if you’re on the 2nd or 3rd floor and the bottom floor is on fire? Suddenly, your escape route is blocked off – you need to escape through your last escape route: the window. A ladder can be a great emergency device in this moment.
In our opinion, the best fire escape ladder is the EFE Emergency Fire Safety Escape Kit. We feel it provides great value for money and a thorough amount of equipment that’s stored in a small quick deploy bag.
Fire escape ladders are just one element of a thorough fire preparedness and home fire safety plan. We also need make sure we have quality smoke detectors and alarms and other fire safety equipment as per local regulations.
This article has shared our opinions for our circumstances only, and is based on our online research and does not constitute advice, professional or otherwise. Your circumstances or experiences will differ from ours. Make sure you do your own additional research and due diligence and adhere to the rules laid out in our terms and conditions and disclaimer.
Good luck in your search for the best fire escape ladder for yourselves!