climbed up on to a fire escape at the back

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Alex Coseff

Senior Member

please, does the compound noun "fire escape" in the stretch below stand for "a set of metal stairs" or "a door through which people escape when the fire breaks out"?
I ´m inclined to the former, but I´d appreciate your comment.
Thank you.

V. Jenkins: The girls in the water
"There is a flat upstairs," the officer said. "We´ve found where the boys got in. Climbed up on to a fire escape at the back."
"What else has been found?" Alex said, already fearful of the answer. If only Jake spoke up sooner.

Background info: A police squad arrives at the scene of crime. It´s an old abandoned house in the middle of nowhere (a former pub). Two little boys had sneaked their way into the house and found a girl being held captive there. The police are now exploring the house and its surroundings, hunting for evidence (the kidnapper and the girl and no longer in). Apart from that, they try to work out how the boys had got in.
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    AE (US English)
    The term "fire escape" refers to a set of metal stairs on the outside of a building, that you get to by climbing out of a window. Its purpose is to be an emergency exit, when the indoor stairs and elevator cannot be used, because there is a fire in the building.

    It is hard to describe correctly without a picture. There are many pictures at this web page:

    fire escape - Google Search
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