Eric Hartsfield and Brett Russell know all about house fires. Eric has been a firefighter with the Norfolk (VA) Fire Rescue for 10 years. His buddy Brett has been a firefighter/paramedic for 13 years. The two specialize in technical rescues, including confined-space rescues, rope rescue, and structural collapse rescue.
They know that:
- Fire is fast: It takes only minutes for a house to fill up with black smoke or flames.
- Fire is hot: Room temperatures can go up to 600 degrees at eye level.
- Fire is dark: It may start out bright, but soon the black smoke creates complete darkness.
- Fire is deadly: An average of seven people a day lose their lives in house fires in the US.
And they know that more than half of the residential fire fatalities occur between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., when people are in their bedrooms. That was the problem they took on. They make a great team. In addition to their “up close and personal” experience with fires, both graduated from the College of Business at James Madison University in Virginia and both are entrepreneurs. Eric owns a home-remodeling contracting business, and Brett has a full-service landscaping company. Together, they founded Rescue Ready to create a safe and practical way for people to escape from their bedrooms during a fire or any life-threatening situation.
Brett is clever with a “think outside the box” approach to design. Eric knows all about window installation. Their invention is a patent-pending fire escape system that is fully integrated into the frame of a window and anchored to the structural components of your home. From the outside, Rescue Ready windows look no different from your other windows. Inside, there is a slight difference, a compartment below the window that contains the ladder. A decorative cover conceals the compartment, both for aesthetic reasons and so that it is obvious where the ladder is. Our faculties may not be 100% in a life-threatening emergency.
To use the ladder, remove the cover and throw the ladder over the sill and out the window. There is your escape route—it’s that simple!
There are other types of escape ladders for homes, but the Rescue Ready ladder has several advantages over all of them:
- You never need to think about where did you put the ladder.
- You do not have to mount a ladder onto the window frame while a fire is raging.
- The ladder is easy enough and lightweight enough for children to employ by themselves, and it will not tangle up as it unfurls.
- The ladder is two-stories long. You will not have to jump those last few feet.
- It is reusable and easy to refold—extremely important because you need to use it for your family fire drills.
- It supports 750 pounds.
- The whole system exceeds the standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
As we touched on above, Eric and Brett want you to keep in mind that simply installing the Rescue Ready Escape Ladder System is not enough. The whole family needs to have an emergency exit plan and practice it periodically. That’s right—just like the fire drills in schools. And that’s why it is crucial that the ladder be reusable. Go through the whole process of opening the compartment, tossing the ladder out the window and climbing down it. The drills may alert you to potential hazards, like your foot getting caught on a pull cord. You do not want any surprises should the time come when you need to get out of the house as fast as possible. You might also practice with your eyes closed. The smoke gets that black.
Eric and Brett’s most fervent desire is to have Rescue Ready save lives before their rescue efforts are needed, before any Fire Department even arrives at the scene. It is a revolutionary system, and the next step for them is to find an established window manufacturer who will partner with them with this life-saving product.