The Best Fire Escape Ladders of 2023

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

By Tom Scalisi | Updated Jan 13, 2023 6:09 PM

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The Best Fire Escape Ladder Options

Photo: amazon.com

In the case of a house fire, an escape window might be your family’s only safe route out of a home. If you live in a 2- or 3-story home, exiting through an upstairs window can be a tricky proposition. To keep your family 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 why these recommendations are among the best 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 25-Foot 3-Story Emergency Fire Escape Ladder
  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 Fire Escape Ladder
  8. BEST SAFETY FEATURES: Isop 32-Foot 3- to 4-Story Fire Emergency Ladder
The Best Fire Escape Ladder Options

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 weight capacities of 1,000 to 2,000 pounds. 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 need to be assembled quickly, we also included easy-to-set-up options, with some fully assembling in a minute.

Our Top Picks

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

Best Overall

First Alert 24-Foot 3-Story Fire Escape Ladder
Photo: amazon.com

Lightweight yet sturdy, the First Alert 24-foot, 3-story fire escape ladder is an excellent choice to help you and your loved ones safely exit an upper floor of your home in an 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.

Each rung has standoffs, allowing you to find footing easily, even in dark, smoky conditions. It has two large hooks that quickly and easily grab onto the window sill, as well as a deployment strap that allows you to position the ladder correctly before dropping the rungs to the ground.

Product Specs 

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

Pros

  • Lightweight; easy to assemble quickly; can be stored under a bed or in a closet
  • 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

Get the First Alert 24-foot fire escape ladder at Amazon, Hardware and Tools, or Max Warehouse.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Fire Escape Ladder Option: Kidde 468193 KL-2S Two-Story Fire Escape Ladder
Photo: amazon.com

Don’t sacrifice family safety to stay on budget. The Kidde 2-story fire escape ladder provides enough strength and convenience to get your loved ones to safety without a hefty price tag. This 13-foot long ladder uses large hooks to hang from your 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, ensuring everyone in your family gets to the ground safely—especially important in the middle of the night when you might need to exit barefoot. The tangle-free design has a deployment strap, allowing you to position the ladder in the window before use. Best yet, it weighs 7.75 pounds and can be easily lifted. It does not include a storage bag or case, however, so keep it in the box.

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

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

Best Portable

Isop 16-Foot 2-Story Fire Escape Ladder
Photo: amazon.com

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 the ladder at the same time. Plus, the reflective technology allows for 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.

Product Specs 

  • Length: 16 feet
  • Materials: Rope and chrome
  • 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 very 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

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

Best with Carabiners

The Best Fire Escape Ladder Option: ISOP Emergency Fire Escape Ladder 25 ft with Carabiners
Photo: amazon.com

This emergency fire escape ladder from Isop is great for homes with balconies or railings. The 25-foot ladder features two carabiners that snap over a railing or to an eyelet that’s driven into the framework (not included). Given its length, this ladder works best for 3-story homes or second-story rooms located over porches.

This ladder has a 2,000-pound weight capacity, and the resin rungs are sturdy and easy to grip. The Isop is also very lightweight, weighing around 9 pounds inside its handy storage bag. If you prefer to have the option to hang it from a window as well, you can purchase the hooks separately (available here).

Product Specs 

  • Length: 25 feet
  • Materials: Rope and chrome
  • Ease of setup: Easy

Pros

  • 2 chrome-plated carabiners included; easily attach to most railings and windows
  • 2,000-pound weight capacity can hold many adults and children at the same time
  • Lightweight construction; easy to set up; includes a handy storage bag

Cons

  • Eyelet not included with ladder; may not be suitable for some windows or balconies
  • Carabiners may not attach to some windows or balconies easily

Get the Isop 25-foot emergency ladder at Amazon or Isop USA.

Best 2-Story

Hausse 13-Foot 2-Story Retractable Fire Escape Ladder
Photo: amazon.com

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

This ladder weighs 11.3 pounds, making it easy to position before you release 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 your feet on the rungs as easy as possible.

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

  • Shorter than comparable options; may not work for some homes
  • May be difficult to put away again once it’s unrolled

Get the Hausse fire escape ladder at Amazon.

Best 3-Story

The Best Fire Escape Ladder Option: Kidde Three Story Fire Escape Ladder
Photo: amazon.com

Bailing out of a 3-story window can be scary, especially for children and seniors. Give your family as much confidence as possible with the Kidde 3-story fire escape ladder. 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 you to position and maintain sure footing on each rung as you climb down. The hooks attach easily to a window and you can set up the 12-pound ladder quickly in an emergency.

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

  • Item size may not be suitable for all balconies and railings
  • Can only be used once; some users say this detail isn’t on the product label

Get the Kidde 25-foot fire escape ladder at Amazon or The Home Depot

Best for Balcony

First Alert Steel 14-Foot 2-Story Fire Escape Ladder
Photo: amazon.com

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. Plus, this model meets ASTM standards, meaning it was tested rigorously for safety.

Product Specs 

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

Pros

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

Cons

  • May be too heavy for small children to lift and hang
  • Heavier than other comparable models; may not fit all balconies and railings

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

Best Safety Features

Isop 32-Foot 3- to 4-Story Fire Emergency Ladder
Photo: amazon.com

Minimize the risks of exiting through a window with this Isop fire emergency ladder. This 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 and can easily be distinguished from this emergency ladder. As users descend the ISOP ladder, the safety rope sections end, allowing them to hook it to the next lower section, greatly reducing the risk of a serious fall.

Product Specs 

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

Pros

  • Includes safety harness, carabiners, and safety rope; suitable for taller buildings or homes
  • Item’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 rings time-consuming

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

Jump to Our Top Picks



What to Consider When Choosing the Best Fire Escape Ladder

Your family’s safety 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

Your home’s design and construction factor into choosing the best fire escape ladder for your 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. You must be able to get to your ladder quickly and ensure it unravels well. Much of that relies on how you store it. The best fire escape ladders come with storage bags or boxes that prevent them from tangling in storage. They unzip or unsnap, so you can remove the ladder quickly, hook it to the window, and toss it out to exit.

Where you store the ladders 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. Wherever you decide to keep your ladder, make sure that it’s clear of obstructions; check on this at least yearly when you check your 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 2 by 4 and 2 by 6 inches, 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 if you have a second- or third-floor balcony because they work exceptionally well with steel railings: You hook them to the handrail and allow the ladder to drop to the ground.

In a fire, every second counts—and lag-bolted fire escape ladders are 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, so hooking it to a wall or window is not necessary. Lag-bolted ladders provide extraordinary strength and security, since they rely on your 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 disabilities 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 ton 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 exterior 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. If you have several rooms to cover, however, that extra cash per room can add up.

While you should never skimp on safety, the options at the lower end of the range are perfectly fine for your fire safety plan. What you might not get at the higher range are features like safety harnesses or metal boxes that lag into the framework of your wall.

Tips for Buying and Using the Best Fire Escape Ladder 

Everyone in your family 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 your exit. The time to learn how to use your fire escape ladder is when things are calm, so implement training into your home’s fire safety plan.

Use the same product in all of your bedrooms so that your family only has 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 your fire escape ladders when you test your 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.

Just because you live in a 2-story home doesn’t mean a 2-story escape ladder will necessarily work for you. If there’s a porch outside your window, for example, you may need a 3-story ladder to account for the increased distance the roof takes up.

  • Everyone in the home should be familiar with the use of your escape ladders.
  • Use the same escape ladder model in all of your 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 that you know how your fire safety equipment and ladder works, and how to use and store it. 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 with lower the rungs out the window and down the side of the house. Once the lowest rungs of the ladder have reached the ground, you 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 your 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 your ladder.

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

The first thing you should 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 you and your family are outside the home, call 911 and alert first responders to the situation.

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