What Is The Best Fire Escape Ladder On The UK Market?

Having a fire escape plan is essential to getting out safely in case the worst happens.

If you live in a storied home or apartment, your fire plan must include a way to get down safely and quickly if fire breaks out in or near your house.

If you live between the first and fourth floor, the best way out in most cases is using a fire escape ladder.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends placing a fire escape ladder near windows in each bedroom located in the upper floors.

With seconds to get to safety, a fire escape ladder provides a fast and safe way to get to ground level.

In this buying guide, we review the best fire escape ladders you can buy online and provide some tips on how to buy the right one for your needs.

What You Need to Know Fire Safety Ladders

Fire escape ladders are designed to be deployed quickly in the event of a fire.

You latch the top of the ladder to the windowsill and then pull a cord to release the ladder. It should reach the ground or near the ground.

Keep the ladder in an easily accessible place; ideally, near or under the window. This makes it easy to find and deploy when there’s a fire.

While most fire safety ladders can support the weight of multiple people going down, it’s not a good idea to have just one ladder for the entire family.

Have at least one ladder for every bedroom, including the guest bedroom.

It is essential that everyone knows where the ladder is and how to use it. Practice deploying the ladder with everyone in the house. But check whether the ladder is single-use before you release it. If it is, only practice latching it on the window.

If you are practising with kids, the NFPA recommends practising from a first story window for safety reasons.

Note that a fire escape ladder should be part of a more comprehensive fire escape plan, not the only plan you have. In fact, most manufacturers expressly state that the ladder is a means of last resort.

Have other exits mapped out just in case you can’t escape through the window or if the ladder fails.

Fire/smoke alarms are also essential. They can provide extra precious minutes to use a fire escape ladder.

What to Consider When Choosing a Fire Escape Ladder

a) Length of Ladder

This is the first thing to look for when buying a fire escape ladder. Check how many stories it extends.

Most fire escape ladders are 25 feet long (7.6 metres) or about the height of three stories. You can safely use the ladder from the first or second floor of a building.

Smaller escape ladders extend two stories high. They are ideal for first floor bedrooms.

You can also get much longer ladders for higher floors.

35-foot ladders (4 storeys) are good up to the third floor while 50-foot ladders can descend close to the ground from as high as the 5th floor.

b) Window Size

All fire escape ladders have minimum window size requirements.

There are two important sizes to check before you buy: the minimum width of the window and the minimum and maximum thickness of the windowsill.

Note that most fire escape ladders are not compatible with VELUX roof windows. So the roof is not a viable escape option if you are planning to descend using a fire escape ladder.

c) Weight Limit

Weight is not an issue with most fire escape ladders. They are designed to handle the weight of multiple people descending at the same time.

It’s still a good idea to check the weight limit. Depending on your weight (and that of other family members) and the number of people who’ll potentially use the ladder, you may find that you need a ladder with a high weight capacity.

Most fire escape ladders can support around 450kg of weight distributed among several rungs.

d) Child-Friendly

If you have kids, get a ladder that they can comfortably use independently. They need to be able to descend on their own.

Some of the child-friendly features to look for include:

  • Properly spaced rungs. The rungs should be too far apart.
  • Anti-slip rungs (important for adults as well).
  • Stabilisers to keep the ladder from flailing.

e) Storage

Get a fire escape ladder that folds into a compact shape. This makes it easy to store under the window or in a closet or wardrobe near the window.

f) Reusable or Single-use

It’s a good idea to practice deploying the ladder and going down the rungs to make sure everyone can use it during a fire.

But first check whether the ladder is re-usable or single-use.

Single-use ladders cannot be used again once they’ve been deployed. That’s because they cannot be folded back and can get tangled if deployed again.

Re-usable ladders are okay to practice with since you can easily fold it up and use it again.

g) Price

Finally, consider your budget.

Fire escape ladders run from as little as £20 for a basic portable ladder to around £200 to heavy duty ladders that can support over 1,000kg.

You can get a good quality 2 or 3 storey ladder for between £50 and £100.

The Best Fire Escape Ladder Reviews

Here are the 5 best fire escape ladders for most homes.

1. Kidde KL-3S 25ft 3-Storey Escape Ladder

Though a bit pricey, the Kidde KL-3S is one of the best fire escape ladders for people living in the first and second floor.

When fully stretched, the Kidde KL-3S ladder stretches down three stories or about 25 feet.

The ladder quickly attaches to the windowsill with no tools required. Just hook up the red and white part to the window and then pull the release strap to quickly deploy the ladder.

Your window must be at least 16 inches wide and the bottom of the window should be no thicker than 11 inches.

A single rung on the Kidde ladder can support up to 340kg. This is the max weight of one person.

When weight is distributed across several rungs – which represents several family members descending – the ladder can comfortably support up to 453.5kg.

The zinc-plated steel rungs have an anti-slip design to ensure everyone descends safely. The nylon rails also help with quick and safe descent. They are easy to grasp even for children.

Note that this is a single-use fire escape ladder. Once you’ve deployed it, you can’t put it back together for future use.

It can easily get tangled, making it hard or impossible to get down in case of a fire.

When you buy it, you can only latch it on the window to check if it fits. But do not pull the release strap to practice going down.

Store the ladder as is under the bed or in a wardrobe near the window.

What we like about it:

  • High maximum weight limit.
  • Compatible with most window sizes.
  • Anti-slip design.
  • Easy and fast to deploy during a fire.

2. Firechief FEL2 114-1025 Fire Escape Ladder, 3 Storey

If you prefer a reusable ladder that you can practice on and use more than once, we recommend the Firechief FEL2 3-storey fire escape ladder.

The ladder consists of steel rungs and chain rails. So there is little risk of tangling if you deploy it multiple times.

The all-steel design makes the FEL2 ladder exceptionally sturdy and strong. It can support up to 150kg per rung and up to 680kg on the entire ladder.

Multiple family members can safely scramble down to safety without waiting for turns.

The ladder is 7.5m (25 feet) high. That’s about three storeys, making it ideal for first and second floor bedrooms.

It latches easily onto most windows thanks to the universal design. The minimum window width is 29.5cm (11.6 inches) and the maximum window thickness is 32.5cm (12.8 inches).

What we like about it:

  • Narrower rungs makes the ladder easier for kids to descend.
  • Exceptionally strong all-steel construction. Supports more weight than most fire escape ladders.
  • Compatible with most windows.
  • Reusable, meaning it’s safe to practice on or use in more than one fire situation.

3. Smartwares BBVL Fire Escape Ladder, 2-Storey

The Smartwares BBVL fire escape ladder is a great choice for first floor apartment dwellers and first floor bedrooms.

It is 2 storeys long or about 4.5m (15 feet).

The ladder supports a max weight of 450kg distributed over several rungs. The manufacturer recommends having a maximum of three people on the ladder at the same time.

Though the rails seem to be made from nylon, the manufacturer says you can practice on it without worrying about knots and tangling during a future deployment.

Just make sure to carefully fold it back into the bracket when done.

Store the ladder near the window where anyone can quickly access it during a fire. It takes just a few seconds to latch onto the window and drop it down the side of the building.

The manufacturer recommends that an adult descend first to stabilise the ladder for kids and older adults.

The steps are non-slip to improve safety and there are stabilisers that grip the wall to increase stability.

Like most people, you’ll probably never have to use the ladder (thankfully). But you can only keep the ladder for five years. After that, it may have reduced strength.

Note the day of purchase and set a replacement reminder for five years.

What we like about it:

  • Easy to deploy.
  • Reusable – you can practice on it.
  • High weight capacity – allows up to 3 people to descend at the same time.
  • The universal attachment is compatible with most windows.

4. X-It 2-Storey Emergency Fire Escape Ladder

The X-It is the most expensive fire escape ladder among our picks. But it’s strong, sturdy and very easy to use.

It hooks up to just about any windowsill. You can even latch it onto the balcony railing.

The manufacturer highly recommends testing the ladder and practising how to use it. It’s reusable so you don’t have to worry about knots and tangles if you re-pack and deploy it again.

Here’s a video on how to repack the ladder.

To practice, latch the ladder onto the window or balcony railing and drop it. Note that you can only use it from a first floor window.

Then go down to the ground and try climbing a few steps up and then come back down. Check that the windowsill or balcony can hold your weight.

The X-It ladder is only 2.7kg heavy but it supports up to 1,000lbs or about 453kg one each rung. Several family members can safely descend at the same time.

The ladder is not only light, it’s compact too when packed. It fits easily in a drawer or wardrobe near the window.

You can also store it under the window in the included bag.

What we like about it:

  • Easy and comfortable to use. The rungs are well spaced and don’t hurt your feet, even if you are barefoot.
  • High weight capacity.
  • Reusable – allows you to practice using it.
  • Compatible with most windows and other edges such as the balcony railing. Test the ladder to make sure it works where you plan to latch it.

5. Kidde KS468093 Kl-2S Two-Storey Escape Ladder

This is the 2-storey version of the Kidde KL-3S ladder. It stretches 13 feet down from the window, making it ideal for first floor bedrooms and apartments.

Like the KL-3S, it’s sturdy and easy to use.

It can support an overall weight of 450kg, meaning 3-4 people can safely descend at the same time.

It’s compatible with most windows. Once you latch it, you just pull the release strap and the ladder unfurls and drops down the side of the building.

The main limitation is that it’s a single-use ladder, meaning you can’t really practice deploying it. The only thing you can do is latch it onto the window to check that it fits.

What we like about it:

  • Strong and sturdy. It can hold the weight of several family members.
  • Easy and quick to deploy.
  • Compatible with most windows.

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