Permanent vs Temporary Fire Escape Ladders for Your Home

Permanent vs Temporary Fire Escape Ladders for Your Home

The other day I was doing some research on fire escape ladders for a rental unit I was looking to purchase that had an upper level. Specifically, I wanted to know which type of fire escape ladder would be best for the rental unit I was considering. This is what I learned.

Home fire escape ladders come in two primary models, permeant and temporary. Permanent fire escape ladders are housed in a box that is secured in the wall between the studs and below the window frame. When needed, you simply open the window, remove the cover, pull out the bound up ladder, and toss it out the window where it rolls downward. Temporary fire escape ladders come bound up and can be stored anywhere. When needed, you grab the ladder, secure the hooks under the window frame, toss it out the window where it rolls downward.

Permanent or temporary fire escape ladders are an important safety feature for homes or rental units with an upper level. However, there are a number of things to consider when buying a fire escape ladder.

Permanent fire escape ladders are easier in the sense that in the case of a fire emergency they are already set up just below the escape window ready for use. You do not have to worry about finding and retrieving it from storage location and securing it to the window frame when time is of the essence. However, they cannot be moved to a different location in the house for a safer exit during a fire as they are secured to the box installed in the wall. Permanent fire escape ladders, while available for homes, are more commonly found on commercial buildings or apartments with multiple stories.

Installing a permanent fire escape ladder is fairly easily accomplished and can be performed by anyone with knowledge of wall studs and sheet rock cutting.

Temporary fire escape ladders can be stored directly in the room of its intended use, or stored in a specific location that is easily accessible and known to everyone in the family. It is recommended that the ladder be stored close to the window and easily seen from anywhere in the room. Some home owners choose to place a temporary escape ladder in each bedroom. Because they require some assembly or securement to the window frame, all family members should be educated to the process of setting it up to ensure efficient and effective use.

Practice should also be given to rolling the ladder out the window and climbing down to the ground. This can help calm the fears of children (and I guess adults) should the need for use be required at some time.

When picking the best ladder for your house, make sure that it is the right height for your home that it will extend to the ground or only a few feet short. It should also be stable enough to support the weight of the heaviest person who would be using it. In fact, many ladders are qualified to handle weights up to 1,000 pounds. Look for anti-slip features on the rungs for added safety, especially for younger kids or the elderly.

One of the frustrations with temporary fire escape ladders is that they can become tangled if not properly stored, or if when used rolled out in an erratic manner. It is good practice to periodically and regularly set up the ladder to ensure memory of the process so that there are no surprises during an emergency. Always take the time to fold it carefully when returning it to storage to avoid tangles. Test the ladder on different windows for efficient use in any room. If a single ladder is to be used for the entire upstairs, select the room that makes the most sense. One where there are not potential obstacles to set up and climbing down. You should be aware of power lines, trees or bushes, or any obstacle that could make climbing all the way to the ground difficult.

Before purchasing Check List:

  • Check height of the ladder
  • Check depth and length of the window hook to make sure it fits your windows
  • Check the weight that it can hold ( of 1,000 lbs. recommended)
  • DO NOT RELY ON COST: When it comes to fire escape ladders, research has shown that a more expensive ladder does not necessarily mean better quality. It can be important to read reviews on the product you are considering purchasing and always thoroughly check the specifications to make sure they fit your specific needs. Make sure you try your ladder after purchase. It should prove to be effective and comfortable for your use. If not, you should return it.

Installing, or securing a temporary fire escape ladder is done during the actual emergency. Again, this is why practice in doing so is important.

Related Questions:

How much do escape ladders cost?
Temporary escape ladders usually range in price from $30-$100 dollars. 

Are there fire escape ladders for commercial buildings?
Yes, most commercial buildings have permanent ladders. However, depending on the size of the structure, they can come in models that are permanently secured to the outside of the building. These models are metal and typically one solid structure.

Are there fire escape ladders for three story houses?
Yes! Check the length description on the box before you purchase and make sure that it will work for your home.