Fire-Resistant Ladders

In most communities, code requires a fire-rated ladder in a garage attic that does not have fire separation from the main house. Here is the requirement for my house, in Portland, Oregon. A thirty-minute fire-rated ladder is required for my garage, and I have installed a Fakro, Model LWF. The model LWF costs 60% more than the most-similar non-rated ladder, model LWS-P. Features contributing to added cost include a composite facing (pretty red ceramic fiberboard), a thermal-expansion sealing band above the door gasket, and an attempt that the door should close with a simple push, without a latch, by strong spring action. Mine does not close by itself. Due to the extreme spring forces, or some other oversight, the door binds and does not fully close. I wish the door had ordinary hinges and a latch. I invite some fire expert to rationalize rules for residential ladders, that might bring down cost and lead to simpler, more-reliable design. No fire-rated ladder other than Fakro was at all affordable to me. In all cases, code should not be written where there is no means of compliance. I think it is ethical for code writers to solicit conforming products, and thereby to write rules that best serve the public.

At October, 2010, I have rebuilt my Fakro LWF, with resort to LWS springs and limit arms, with door angle adjustment, set to 64 degrees, still with out-of-reach three-section deployment. I will fully describe the conversion, after I obtain additional steps to permit four-section deployment. Here are simple drawings. The second is of the condition awaiting additional step sections.

This discussion parallels that in tab Fakro Ladder Installation Progress.

Installation of a Warranty-Replacement LWF 25/54 Ladder:

At September 2011, I have at last installed and tried a LWF 25/54 ladder received in January, 2011, as a warranty replacement of my LWF 25/54 ladder. I could not bear to replace mine, with its now-acceptable spring-on-door, latched operation. I would have betrayed trust of Fakro, if I had scavenged a step section to do a fourth-section improvement of my ladder.

Instead, with at last a needful and cooperating customer, I have done another installation-as-experiment. This ladder, with no discernible difference of design, does close properly. In more than 120 full open full close cycles, I see none of the drive of the door toward the opening end by the slam-closure spring forces. Like mine before retrofit to latch closure, this ladder does not slam. A good push is needed to get past a stall, where spring force does hold the door closed. The installation is fully described in document LWF Ladder Installation Anonymous .

I retain wishful thinking of freedom to customize installations for best convenience of customers. I wish for standard step sections common in all wood-ladder families. Best steps would be those of LWF ladders, for LWS and OLN ladders, too. Common lengths would be 100 cm and 75 cm, with well-centered four steps or three, respectively.

Here is what I imagined for this customer, if there were need, and factory support:

Custom LWF XX/54