When reading through articles about fire escape routes and tips on how to exit a burning building/location safely, one important factor is always left out: ensuring that the first responders that come to extinguish the fire are walking into safe (well, as safe as possible in the given situation) and up to date fire escape ladders and stairs.
First responders, most commonly firemen, are assumed to have undergone rigorous training and education on precautions to take when entering a burning building to save lives, and they have. What they are not trained on, however, is to assume that property owners have kept their internal and external fire escape ladders and stairs up to inspection standards. These stairs and ladders are what could connect a fireman to a citizen in need, and if they’re rusted, cluttered, or broken, that could be the difference in saving a life. Since these structures are normally made of metal or steel, their burning points are much higher and can withstand heat longer than other substances to provide a safe entry and exit. As noted in previous articles and writings across the Internet regarding the subject, keeping fire escapes cleared and up to regulation is the best way to ensure safe exiting in the event of a fire.
While fire escape routes are required for all buildings, it makes more sense to focus on those who have 2nd story fire escape ladders and stairs on their homes, or even more when it comes to businesses and other properties. Escaping from a one-story property is obviously simpler and does not always include egress ladders or any other fire escape route. There will be emergency exit door(s) and the ability to slip through a window to escape is much easier. However, when stories are added onto buildings, escaping becomes trickier for both firemen and the victims trapped inside. When on the second, third, or whichever floor above ground level, your chances for a safe exit decrease exponentially when there are not adequate fire escape outlets present. Which, as you can assume, means that your chances of being saved are lowered as well because firemen and first responders cannot make use of faulty structures.
To ensure that in the event of a fire that both you and the team of first responders have the best chance at a safe exit, it is imperative to keep your fire exit stairs and ladders up to the given regulations. If you are unclear of the regulations for your property, contacting a landowner or even your local fire department can quickly give you an accurate, up-to-date answer. Maintenance on these structures can range from scraping and painting for a new, even finish to simply keeping them uncluttered. It is easy to keep clutter close to these structures because they are not used regularly, but when the time comes to use them, it saves more time to have a clean exit route than a crowded, cluttered staircase or balcony.
In closing, those entering your home during a fire are equally as important as those who are trying to escape, and with the proper upkeep of fire escape routes, ladders, and balconies, the safe escape of both parties is at a much higher rate. Without first responders, escaping and extinguishing fires would be nearly impossible, so keeping them in mind will ensure safe escapes for years to come.