The Best Fire Escape Ladders to Keep Your Family Safe in an Emergency

Make sure your emergency preparedness plan includes one of the best fire escape ladders for your family to exit safely.

Best Overall

The First Alert 24-Foot 3-Story Fire Escape Ladder on a white background.

First Alert 24-Foot 3-Story Fire Escape Ladder

See It

Best Bang for the Buck

The Kidde 13-Foot 2-Story Fire Escape Ladder and its box on a white background.

Kidde 13-Foot 2-Story Fire Escape Ladder

See It

Best Portable

The Isop 16-Foot 2-Story Fire Escape Ladder on a white background.

Isop 16-Foot 2-Story Fire Escape Ladder

See It

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More ›

In the case of a house fire, an escape window might be the only safe route out of a home for those inside. For folks living in a 2- or 3-story home, exiting through an upstairs window can be a tricky proposition. To keep everyone safe, provide access to the best fire escape ladder in every upstairs room.

A collapsible emergency ladder is designed to be hung from windows and offers a safe escape if other exits aren’t accessible. Read on to learn how to choose a quality fire escape ladder, and see why these recommendations are among the best to rely on during an emergency.

  1. BEST OVERALL: First Alert 24-Foot 3-Story Fire Escape Ladder
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Kidde 13-Foot 2-Story Fire Escape Ladder
  3. BEST PORTABLE: Isop 16-Foot 2-Story Fire Escape Ladder
  4. BEST WITH CARABINERS: Isop 32-Foot Rope Ladder Fire Escape
  5. BEST 2-STORY: Hausse 13-Foot 2-Story Retractable Fire Escape Ladder
  6. BEST 3-STORY: Kidde 25-Foot 3-Story Fire Escape Ladder
  7. BEST FOR BALCONY: First Alert Steel 14-Foot 2-Story Escape Ladder
  8. BEST SAFETY FEATURES: Isop 32-Foot 3- to 4-Story Evacuation Rope Ladder
  9. BEST PERMANENT: X-It Fire Escape Ladder
  10. BEST FOR BABIES AND PETS: Isop Emergency Escape Bag
A person wearing tennis shoes while they step on one rung of the best fire escape ladder.
Photo: amazon.com

How We Chose the Best Fire Escape Ladders 

We researched the most sought-after fire escape ladders in their respective categories and discovered that the best options are determined by their design and length, safety features, ease of setup, and other special features included by top brands.

After extensive product research, we included top fire emergency ladders made from various materials, including heavy-duty nylon, rope, resin, and steel. Our choices can hold multiple adults and children at a time, with a variety of weight capacities. Many of these fire emergency ladders also come in varying lengths, with most options ranging from 13 to 32 feet.

Regarding safety, some of our American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)-certified emergency ladders include nonslip rungs, safety strings, oversize hooks, carabiners, safety harnesses, and reflective materials. Because emergency escape ladders must be assembled quickly, we also included easy-to-set-up options, with some fully assembling in a minute.

We also reached out to fire department professionals for expert advice on these safety devices.  Bruce D. Bouch, MPIO, fire program specialist in the U.S. Fire Administration, says, “Fire escape ladders are an excellent tool when trapped on an upper floor and unable to use the stairs. It is important when choosing a fire escape ladder to ensure it will fit and latch properly onto the windowsill where it is planned for use.” Bouch also emphasizes that purchasing a fire escape ladder isn’t enough; it’s essential for people to practice using it “as part of your home escape planning in the event an incident were to occur.”

A house with the garage door open and a car inside with a fire escape ladder hanging down from an open window.
Photo: amazon.com

Our Top Picks

Adding fire escape ladders to a home emergency plan increases household members’ chances of surviving a dangerous scenario. This guide presents recommendations for reliable fire escape ladders that can improve a family’s fire safety plan.

Best overall

First Alert 24-Foot 3-Story Fire Escape Ladder

See It

Product Specs

  • Length: 24 feet
  • Materials: Nylon and steel
  • Ease of setup: Easy

Pros

  • Lightweight and easy to assemble quickly; can be stored under a bed or in a closet
  • Ladder holds up to 375 pounds of weight; allows multiple people to climb down at once
  • Standoffs built into rungs prevent slips; oversize hooks can attach to most railings or windows

Cons

  • Pricey compared to similar emergency fire escape ladders on the market

Lightweight yet sturdy, the First Alert 24-foot 3-story fire escape ladder is an excellent choice to help household members safely exit an upper floor during a home emergency. This portable option weighs under 30 pounds and can hold up to 375 pounds at a time, allowing several people to climb down at once.

Two large hooks quickly and easily grab onto the window sill, and there’s a deployment strap that allows users to position the ladder correctly before dropping the rungs to the ground. Each rung has standoffs so climbers can find footing easily, even in dark, smoky conditions.

Get the First Alert 24-foot fire escape ladder at Amazon, Lowe’s, Walmart, or Max Warehouse.

Best Bang for the Buck

Kidde 13-Foot 2-Story Fire Escape Ladder

See It


Product Specs

  • Length: 13 feet
  • Materials: Zinc-plated steel and nylon
  • Ease of setup: Easy

Pros

  • Oversize hooks are easy to place on any balcony or window
  • Sturdy; capable of holding up to 1,000 pounds of weight-bearing strength overall
  • Slip-resistant rungs prevent unwanted slips; tangle-free design ensures quick, easy assembly

Cons

  • Shorter than comparable options; may not be suitable for some homes

Don’t sacrifice family safety to stay on budget. The Kidde 2-story fire escape ladder provides enough strength and convenience to get household members to safety without a hefty price tag. This 13-foot-long ladder uses large hooks to hang from a window sill. It has zinc-plated metal rungs and a nylon strap rail, and it’s capable of holding up to 1,000 pounds of weight-bearing strength overall.

This ladder’s rungs are slip-resistant to help ensure that everyone gets to the ground safely—especially important in the middle of the night when folks might need to exit barefoot. The tangle-free design has a deployment strap, allowing users to position the ladder in the window before use. Another important plus: It weighs only 7.75 pounds and can be easily lifted. It does not include a storage bag or case, however, but it can be kept in the box.

Get the Kidde 13-foot fire escape ladder at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Walmart.

Best Portable

Isop 16-Foot 2-Story Fire Escape Ladder

See It

Product Specs

  • Length: 16 feet
  • Materials: Rope and steel
  • Ease of setup: Easy

Pros

  • Holds up to 2,000 pounds of weight; can be used by multiple people simultaneously
  • At 8 pounds, this ladder is lightweight and easy to set up quickly
  • Anti-slip rungs; reflective technology provides enhanced visibility from the ground

Cons

  • Pricey compared to similar fire escape ladders on the market
  • Some users report stiff construction; may not unroll entirely on its own

Lightweight, sturdy, and reliable, this 16-foot Isop fire escape ladder is fast to deploy, making it easy to use in a hurry. It weighs just 8 pounds, and this resin and thick rope ladder holds up to 2,000 pounds of weight, which allows multiple people to use it at the same time. Plus, the reflective technology provides ample visibility from the ground floor.

Each anti-slip rung has reinforced rung caps, and the heavy-duty carabiners can attach easily to any railing or balcony. This 2-story ladder also comes with a storage bag making it easy to pack or store, and there are multiple lengths offered depending upon the length required.

Get the Isop 16-foot fire escape ladder at Amazon or Walmart.

Best with Carabiners

Isop 32-Foot Rope Ladder Fire Escape

See It

Product Specs

  • Length: 32 feet
  • Materials: Rope, nylon, and steel
  • Ease of setup: Moderate

Pros

  • Longer escape ladder with heavy-duty rust-resistant carabiners, plus a full body harness
  • With a weight capacity of 2,000 pounds, it should support 2 or more people simultaneously
  • The rope for the safety harness has 11KN (2,400 pounds) breaking strength

Cons

  • Setting up the ladder and getting into the harness quickly takes a little practice

This is another super-strong rope ladder from international safety specialists Isop, offering a 2,000-pound weight rating and fire-resistant nonslip rungs. Heavy-duty chrome-plated carabiners allow it to be securely fixed to a wide variety of balconies and railings. The 32-foot length makes it ideal for both homes and 2-story motels.

This model also benefits from a full-body safety harness with its own safety rope and carabiner so it can be hooked into the ladder for a safer descent. Setting up the ladder and putting on the harness is not difficult but takes a little longer than simpler versions.

It is certainly worth doing a few practice runs to acclimate everyone to the equipment.

Get the Isop 32-foot fire escape rope ladder at Amazon or Walmart.

Best 2-Story

Hausse 13-Foot 2-Story Retractable Fire Escape Ladder

See It

Product Specs

  • Length: 13 feet
  • Materials: Aluminum
  • Ease of setup: Easy

Pros

  • Supports up to 1,000 pounds; holds up to 3 people at a time
  • Standoffs allow users to mount the ladder easily; deploys in seconds
  • Includes a canvas storage bag that helps keep the ladder untangled

Cons

  • It can be a little awkward to put away again once deployed

It’s essential that emergency escape ladders are easy to find and quick to deploy. This Hausse 2-story fire escape ladder checks both boxes with its intelligently designed storage bag. It’s made of bright red canvas, so users can spot it quickly, and it keeps the ladder stored neatly, avoiding tangles that could jeopardize safety.

This ladder weighs 11.3 pounds, making it easy to position before releasing the included deployment strap. The Hausse holds up to 1,000 pounds, and three people can use it safely at one time. It also has standoffs to make getting feet on the rungs as easy as possible.

Get the Hausse fire escape ladder at Amazon.

Best 3-Story

Kidde 25-Foot 3-Story Fire Escape Ladder

See It

Product Specs

  • Length: 25 feet
  • Materials: Zinc-plated steel and nylon
  • Ease of setup: Easy

Pros

  • 1,000-pound weight capacity; capable of holding 750 pounds per rung
  • Nonslip rungs prevent accidental slips; built-in standoffs allow users to easily mount the ladder
  • Affordable compared to similar fire escape ladders on the market

Cons

  • This is a single-use ladder that must be discarded after initial use; cannot practice escape and reuse afterward
  • Possible that this ladder may not be suitable for all balconies and railings

Bailing out of a 3-story window can be scary, especially for children and seniors. Give household members as much confidence as possible with this 3-story fire escape ladder from Kidde. It’s 25 feet long and has a weight capacity of 1,000 pounds due to the nylon strap rope and zinc-plated steel rungs, each of which has a 750-pound capacity.

The rungs also have a nonslip coating and built-in standoffs, helping climbers position and maintain sure footing on each rung during descent. The 12-pound ladder should set up quickly in an emergency as the hooks attach easily to a window.

Get the Kidde 25-foot fire escape ladder at AmazonThe Home Depot, or Walmart.

Best for Balcony

First Alert Steel 14-Foot 2-Story Escape Ladder

See It

Product Specs

  • Length: 14 feet
  • Materials: Steel and DuPont Cordura nylon
  • Ease of setup: Moderate

Pros

  • Oversize handles can be attached to most balconies and windows
  • 1,125-pound weight capacity; can hold multiple people at the same time
  • Lightweight; comes fully assembled and can be set up in around 1 minute

Cons

  • Heavier than comparable models, making it difficult for young children to lift and hang

For homes or apartments with a balcony, keeping a fire escape ladder close can save lives. That’s why the 14-foot First Alert 2-story ladder can be the ideal escape route. This versatile ladder is made with strong stainless steel and DuPont Cordura nylon, making it capable of supporting 1,125 pounds, enough to hold multiple adults and children at a time.

For added safety, the nonslip epoxy rungs on this ladder prevent slips while the steel stabilizers prevent the ladder from swaying while climbing. This ladder also comes fully assembled and can be set up within 1 minute with the help of oversize handles that can be attached to any balcony railing.

Get the First Alert 14-foot fire escape ladder at Amazon or Walmart.

Best Safety Features

Isop 32-Foot 3- to 4-Story Evacuation Rope Ladder

See It

Product Specs

  • Length: 32 feet
  • Materials: Rope and steel
  • Ease of setup: Easy

Pros

  • Includes safety harness, carabiners, and safety rope; suitable for taller buildings or homes
  • Ladder’s 13-inch octagon-shaped rungs are sturdy, reliable, and slip-resistant

Cons

  • Pricey compared to similar fire escape ladders on the market
  • Some users may find changing the hooks between rungs time-consuming

Minimize the risks of exiting through a window with this Isop fire emergency ladder. The kit includes a 32-foot ladder with round resin rungs as well as a harness with carabiners and a safety rope. The safety rope is red to be easily identified in an emergency. As users descend the ladder, the safety rope sections end, allowing them to hook it to the next lower section, which greatly reduces the risk of a serious fall.

Get the Isop 32-foot evacuation fire escape ladder at Amazon, or Walmart.


Product Specs

  • Length: 13 to 53 feet
  • Materials: Nylon and aluminum
  • Ease of setup: Very easy

Pros

  • Designed for rapid, tangle-free deployment; can be either permanent or portable
  • Nylon and aluminum construction makes it lightweight yet still offers 1,000-pound load
  • Normally reusable and available in a range of lengths from 2- to 6-story

Cons

  • It is more expensive than most, especially the longer versions

The X-It fire escape ladder uses a unique design that combines nylon straps with aluminum treads, making it very light. The 2-story version weighs just 6 pounds. According to X-It, this product is the only fire escape ladder that can be portable or permanently installed using the available accessory bracket. It is rated for 1,000 pounds, and meets ASTM F2175 safety standards.

It can hook over any windowsill and most railings or banisters. The hooks themselves do not have hinges, so it’s super easy and intuitive to use, even for young children. Simply release the Velcro strap, hang over any sill, and allow the rungs to drop. It is reusable (subject to any fire damage) and comes with a bag for compact storage.

Get the X-It fire escape ladder at X-It.

Best Permanent

X-It Fire Escape Ladder

See It

Product Specs

  • Length: 50 feet
  • Materials: PVC
  • Ease of setup: Easy

Pros

  • Easy-to-use bag to lower pets or children to ground level
  • Comes with 50 feet of rope and heavy-duty carabiner for added security
  • Mesh front allows plenty of airflow; can double as a backpack

Cons

  • It’s important to add a pillow to provide a little rigidity to the bag

Fire escape ladders are great for those who can use them, but pets and young children don’t have that option. The Isop emergency escape bag has been developed to solve that problem. There are two options, with weight limits of either 55 or 100 pounds, and a 50-foot heavy-duty rope with a carabiner is included. The front of the bag has a see-through mesh to provide airflow and keep the interior from feeling claustrophobic. Straps also allow the emergency escape bag to double as a temporary backpack.

The bag is soft, so adding a pillow (as recommended) is important to provide some rigidity. As always, practice is a good idea, particularly with pets who may not like the enclosed space.

Get the Isop fire escape bag at Amazon or Walmart.

Jump to Our Top Picks

A person bending down to insert the best fire escape ladder into an open window.
Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing a Fire Escape Ladder

The safety of loved ones could someday hang on a fire escape ladder—so a reliable, high-quality product is a must. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind when shopping for the best fire escape ladder.

Number of Stories

A home’s design and construction factor into choosing the best fire escape ladder for an emergency safety plan. While there is always the potential for injury when escaping through a window, having a properly sized fire escape ladder can minimize the chances of an accident.

Fire escape ladders come in two main varieties: 2-story and 3-story. A 2-story escape ladder will work for most raised ranch and Cape Cod–style homes. Three-story emergency escape ladders are better suited for colonial, farmhouse, and townhouse styles, as the bedroom windows in these homes are normally higher from the ground, requiring a longer ladder to climb to safety.

Storage 

Fast, easy access to a fire escape ladder is essential in an emergency. Users must be able to find and access the ladder quickly and ensure it unravels well. Much of that relies on how it is stored. The best fire escape ladders come with storage bags or boxes that prevent them from tangling in storage. They unzip or unsnap so that the ladder can be removed quickly, hooked to a window, and tossed out to exit.

Where ladders are stored is also important. There should be one in every occupied bedroom, in the same location—typically, in a closet or under the bed—so that it’s easy to recall where they are. The area where ladders are kept must be clear of obstructions for quick, easy access; check on this at least yearly when checking smoke detectors’ batteries.

Hooks

There are three ways to secure a fire escape ladder to windows: hooks, carabiners, and lag bolts. Each has distinct benefits.

Large steel hooks slide easily over window sills of 4 feet long by 2 feet wide and 6 feet long by 2 feet wide, and even concrete block walls. They set up quickly and require no permanent changes inside of the room.

Fire escape ladders with carabiners (metal clips commonly used in rock climbing and repelling) are a great choice for a second- or third-floor balcony because they work exceptionally well with steel railings: Simply hook them to the handrail and allow the ladder to drop to the ground.

In a fire, every second counts—and a lag-bolted fire escape ladder is ideal for saving time. It comes in a metal box that screws into the framework of the wall, below the window, and is always at the ready; it attaches permanently, rather than requiring being hooked to a wall or window. Lag-bolted ladders provide extraordinary strength and security since they rely on the home’s sturdy framing instead of metal hooks that sit over the window sill.

Weight and Weight Capacity

Everyone in the home should be able to use the fire escape ladder. Some older designs were too heavy for seniors and those with physical challenges to use, so today’s options are lighter. Many fire escape ladders are made of nylon climbing rope, which has great tensile strength without the added weight of metal chains. Rigid rungs made of steel or hard resins provide a secure step without adding a lot of weight. The result is a strong ladder that deploys quickly while weighing less than 10 pounds.

Weight capacity is also an important factor. Manufacturers rate their ladders’ weight capacity as overall capacity, in the event that several people are on the ladder at once, and an individual capacity per rung. For example, a ladder may have a 250-pound capacity for each rung but an overall capacity of 1,000 pounds, allowing four or five people on the ladder at a time.

Ladder Standoffs

When users deploy a fire escape ladder, the rungs sit tight against the side of the house. That lack of space between the ladder and the wall can make it very difficult to get one’s feet into each rung safely. Some manufacturers address this issue with standoffs: small wings on each rung to hold them slightly off of the side of the house. This gives users just enough room to naturally position the ball of the foot on the rung, providing safety, security, and balance. They also make it easier to get one’s hands behind the rungs for extra grip.

Safety Features

While a fire escape ladder is technically a safety device in itself, some have bonus features that make them even easier and safer to use. For instance, users can find rope ladders that come with a safety harness like rock climbers wear: All that’s required is for the user to slip their legs through the harness, cinch it around their waist, and then clip it to the descending rope on the side of the ladder.

Many of the best fire escape ladders have quick-deploying straps that allow users to position the hooks in the window before releasing the length of the ladder. This makes them much safer as users are less likely to tangle up in the ladder in an emergency. They’re also less likely to drop the entire ladder out of the window before it’s secure.

Budget

The great news about the best fire escape ladders is that they’re all pretty affordable. Most land somewhere between $30 and $80, with some outliers in the mid $100 range. For folks with several rooms to cover, however, that extra cash per room can add up.

While it’s never wise to skimp on safety, the options at the lower end of the range are perfectly fine for a fire safety plan. What typically comes at the higher price range are features like safety harnesses or metal boxes that lag into the framework of the wall.

Tips for Buying and Using the Best Fire Escape Ladder 

Everyone in a household should be familiar and comfortable with the use of a fire escape ladder. The prospect of climbing out of a window can be frightening, especially if there’s a fire blocking the exit. The time to learn how to use a fire escape ladder is when things are calm, so implement training and practice into the home’s fire safety plan.

Use the same product in all of the bedrooms so that members of the household only have to learn how to use one type of fire escape ladder. Fire safety plans must be simple to be most effective, and having several models with different features will complicate the plan. Keep emergency escape ladders in the same location in each room, such as under the bed or in a closet, so that everyone knows where a ladder is, regardless of which room they’re in.

Check on fire escape ladders at least once a year when testing the home’s smoke detectors. Be sure that they’re free from obstructions that would block access to them and free from tangles that can limit how well they deploy.

Folks who live in a 2-story home will need to know that a 2-story escape ladder may not necessarily work. If there’s a porch outside the window, for example, a 3-story ladder might be necessary to account for the increased distance the roof takes up.

  • Everyone in the home will want to be familiar with the use of escape ladders.
  • Use the same escape ladder model in all rooms to avoid complications.
  • Inspect emergency escape ladders regularly.
  • Be sure to choose a ladder that works for each room, keeping obstructions like porches in mind.

FAQs 

Fire safety is serious business, so be sure to learn how fire safety equipment and escape ladders work and should be stored. Consider these answers to common questions about fire escape ladders.

Q. How do fire escape ladders work?

In the event of a fire or other emergency, an escape ladder involves one of three methods for users to descend safely: either attaching permanently to a wall or window inside the house, hooking over an open window frame, or attaching to balconies or railings using carabiners.

Users with permanent fire escape ladders install or secure them with hooks/carabiners out the window and down the side of the house. Once the lowest rungs of the ladder have reached the ground, household members can carefully step out onto the ladder and descend to safety.

Q. How do you store a fire escape ladder? 

The best option is a bag devoted solely to storing the fire escape ladder. Not all ladders come with one, so it may be worth purchasing a separate canvas or nylon bag in a bright color to house the ladder.

Q. What should I do in case of a fire?

The first thing you’ll want to do in case of a fire is get to safety. This may include grabbing a fire extinguisher and clearing a safe path to a door or window. Once all household members are outside the home, call 911 and alert first responders to the situation.

Why Trust Bob Vila

Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.

Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.

Share
Tom Scalisi Avatar

Tom Scalisi

Contributor

Tom Scalisi is a freelance writer, author, and blogger with a passion for building. Whether it’s a DIY project or an entire website, Tom loves creating something from the ground up, stepping back, and admiring a job well done.

WHY YOU CAN TRUST BOB VILA