Does a Fire Escape Ladder Work for Balcony Railings?

Unpredictable and intimidating, house fires are a major health hazard. Have you ever wondered how many people lose their lives to home fires every day in the United States? It is more than most people anticipate. 

According to research conducted by American Red Cross in 2018, seven people, on average, die in home fires every day, and a further 36 are injured every year. The greatest loss is the loss of life.

In this article we will discuss how you can avoid fire victims by installing fire escape ladders on your buildings or railings. 

Can You Use Fire Escape Ladders With Balcony Railings?

You need all the help possible to deal with house fires. This is because you never know when this calamity strikes, and anything can go wrong at the final moment. Your fire extinguisher may not work, the route leading to the exit may be blocked, or you might get stuck in your room. In these situations, having a fire escape ladder for your balcony railing is one option that can save your life. 

There are two types of fire escape ladders. One is attached to the exterior of buildings – mostly used with apartment buildings and offices. The other type is the one you buy personally. These sorts of fire escape ladders are perfect for balcony railings. They are very portable, allowing you to fold and store them easily. 

Balcony Fire Escape

When you need th fire escape ladder, attach it to your balcony using the carabiners or steel hooks that come with itr. Now, release the ladder from the balcony, and you will be able to climb down to safety.

So yes, you can use a fire escape ladder with the balcony railing at your home or apartment. 

Fire Escape Ladder

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Factors to Consider When Selecting a Fire Escape Ladder for a Balcony Railing

Although we can agree on the fact that fire escape ladders work with balcony railings, however, there are some additional factors you need to keep in mind when selecting a fire escape ladder.

Number of Stories

It is important to purchase a ladder that is properly sized for your house’s structure and design. There is always risk involved when using a fire escape ladder over balcony railings or windowsills. But it is better to reduce this risk as much as possible. 

Fire escape ladders are available in two variants, including two-story and three-story. Choose the one which is suitable for your home. 

Fire Escape Ladder Building


In an emergency, it is important to have the fire escape ladder ready to go. This means that the ladder should come with storage options such as a bag or box so that you can quickly snap open or unzip the ladder. The best places to store a ladder are under your bed or in a closet. Just make sure the location is similar in all rooms so that it is easier to remember where the ladder is when needed.


There are two ways the hooks of a fire escape ladder attach to the balcony railing:

  • Steel hooks – the hooks slide over the metal railing and sit in place while you are going down the ladder. The advantage of using a fire escape ladder with steel hooks is the quick setup.
  • Carabiners – primarily used in repelling and rock climbing, these metal clips are the ideal option for balcony railings as there is no way for them to get detached once you clip them on the railing.

Our recommendation is to opt for an escape ladder with carabiners as it offers more security in the event of a fire.  

Weight of the Fire Escape Ladder and the Weight Capacity

An important consideration for the type of escape ladder you pick is the weight of the ladder itself. These days, you can easily find nylon ladders that are flexible light and offer amazing tensile strength compared to the metal chains. These sorts of ladders are perfect for children and the elderly. 

Another thing to investigate is the total weight a ladder can support. Some ladders mention the weight capacity of each rung and the whole ladder separately. In case of a fire, multiple people might use one ladder simultaneously, which is why it is important to know how many people can use the ladder without bearing too much weight on it.

Safety Features

Although the ladder is a safety device itself, some fire escape ladders come with additional quirks and features to make them even safer. For example, many rope ladders are available with a harness that you can wear around your waist like rock climbers. You can then clip the harness onto the rope to protect you if you fall off the ladder. 

Final Thoughts

If a fire was to break out, you can further guarantee your safety by using as many safeguards as possible. Without a doubt, a fire escape ladder is one of the most essential things to have for those caught in a fire. Make sure to have a fire escape ladder in each room to enable quick evacuation if necessary.

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Nick Klamecki, Author
About Nick Klamecki, Author

Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use. Learn more about Nick here or connect with him on LinkedIn | Medium

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