Low-Cost Fire Escape Ladders

Take advantage of a lazy summer afternoon to make these easy-to-build fire escape ladders.
By Glenn Jacobs
May/June 1981
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The author made his fire escape ladders from dowel rods, heavy steel wire, and chains.

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When I first moved my family to Poverty Flat, Arizona, we had to convert the attic of our small house into two little rooms for our children. After flooring and insulating the area, however, I realized that the stairway provided the only exit from either of the cubicles. Which meant that—should we have a fire—an alternate escape route might well be needed.

At first I put together a simple drop ladder from clothesline wire, but it was difficult to climb and tended to tangle when used. However, my new fire escape ladders (there's one outside of each bedroom, accessible by means of a hinged window) are constructed from lengths of 1 1/2" dowel, chain, and heavy steel wire. They can be hung under the house's eaves when not in use and dropped in half a second even by a sleepy youngster working in pitch darkness!

And I haven't had any trouble getting the children to practice using their escape routes, either. In fact—even after three years "fire drill" is among their favorite games!

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