I heard fire escape ladders or rope ladders cannot be used to get out of your building window if the room directly below is on fire. I would imagine because the ladder then would catch fire? If that's true, what are other methods to safely get out of your window, if the window escape was your only option?

  • There are window ladders that use chain rather than rope. If you're really concerned, pay the surcharge. Personally, I doubt a ladder would burn thru before I reached ground, at least for any height I'd want go tell people to use a ladder from.
    – keshlam
    Aug 6, 2015 at 19:39
  • If the fire has breached the window (or wall) below you and is burning the ropes on your fire ladder, you likely won't survive the climb that way anyway. The same hot gases pouring through the window that have burnt off the ropes on your ladder will catch your clothes and skin on fire if you try to go that way. find another window to escape from, or just jump away from the house and risk the injury from landing on the ground rather than take the almost certain risk of serious burns.
    – Johnny
    Aug 6, 2015 at 20:14
  • It isn't a very good idea to jump out of a window unless that is the only way you can escape. Chances of serious injury are high if you are above the second floor. Try throwing anything out of the window that might break your fall such as bedding. Aug 6, 2015 at 20:29
  • @JasonHutchinson - If the fire below you is so large that it's burnt the bottom rungs off your escape ladder and you can't find another window to escape from, I think you're better off jumping than staying where you are. (assuming that you're in a standard wood-framed building... if you're in a concrete building, sheltering in place and waiting for rescue could be the better choice)
    – Johnny
    Aug 6, 2015 at 21:43

1 Answer 1


This is why every livable room is required to have at least two ways to exit room. If all paths are blocked, you then have to wait for the fire department to come with the ladder truck. Any other means will put you in greater dander.

Also it is not the ladder catching on fire that is the concern, but climbing through heat/fire/smoke that will make it impossible.

  • That makes much more sense! (The definition of "livable room" and what constitutes a conforming egress depends on local zoning. Older building may be "grandfathered" if they predate this rule. And I don't think it applies to owner-occupied housing everywhere -- it's emphatically a good idea, but some folks would rather be cooked than legislated.)
    – keshlam
    Aug 6, 2015 at 21:01
  • Waiting for the fire department is not always an option - my sister managed to get her family and dogs out of the house within a few minutes of the fire alarm going off. By the time the fire department got there about 15 minutes later (she lived outside of town), the flames had made their way up from the basement through the first and second second floors and out the roof. She was lucky that the fire did not block the stairs because she had no escape ladder in her second floor bedroom... she does now, she had a permanently installed fold-out escape ladder installed in her new house.
    – Johnny
    Aug 6, 2015 at 22:03

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