How Does A Vision Panel Contribute To Fire Prevention And Response

How Does A Vision Panel Contribute To Fire Prevention And Response

By Dr. Vikram Mehta, MD of SPARTAN Fire Evacuation Lift

A vision panel, or fire-rated glass, is a transparent panel typically installed in fire doors or walls to allow visibility into or out of a fire-rated area. It is specially designed to withstand exposure to fire while providing visibility and protection from smoke and flames. It is used in buildings to compartmentalize spaces, maintain safe means of egress, and enhance fire safety.

Vision Panel is not just limited to high-rise buildings but is prominent in all types of construction to ensure the safety of Occupants and Firefighters. We have witnessed in all fire emergencies that poor visibility poses significant risks to firefighters during rescue missions, impacting their safety, operational effectiveness, and ability to carry out successful rescue operations. This limitation can lead to delays in rescue operations, potentially endangering the lives of those trapped inside the building.  There are many such incidents like one in the tragic Thane Fire Incident in 2009 where Six firemen suffocated to death in a fire lift that they took to reach the 14th floor of the building.

Considering all these factors, the Maharashtra Energy Department, Municipal Corporations, and Fire Brigade Department have introduced the Fire Evacuation Lift for faster and safer evacuations. The State Energy Department has made it mandatory in their enactment dated 20th July 2022 to install these lifts in buildings having a height of 70 meters and above. These lifts are designed with non-combustible materials and come equipped with a 30-minute battery backup and a 2-hour fire-rated vision panel. The government has recognized the importance of vision panels in rescue missions and mandated that each fire evacuation lift should have a 2-hour fire-rated vision panel to aid in safe evacuation and monitoring by emergency responders.

The Vision Panel serves several purposes in fire prevention and response:

  1. Visibility: During a fire emergency, a vision panel allows occupants and first responders to see if there is a fire or smoke on the other side of the door or wall, aiding in quick decision-making and safe evacuation.
  1. Fire Resistance Ratings: Fire-rated glass is classified based on its fire resistance ratings, which indicate the duration the glass can withstand exposure to fire before the fire penetrates through the glass. Common ratings include 20, 45, 60, 90, and 120 minutes. The Fire Evacuation Lift has 2-hour fire-rated glass which makes it a more reliable solution to have for a rescue mission.
  1. Occupant Safety: The visibility provided by a vision panel can help occupants determine the safest evacuation route and avoid potential hazards or obstacles.
  1. Evacuation: Vision panels provide a means for occupants to assess the situation outside the room or compartment before opening the door, potentially avoiding exposure to smoke or fire.
  1. Monitoring: Emergency responders can use vision panels to assess the situation inside a fire-rated area before entering, allowing for better decision-making and potentially reducing the risk to firefighters.
  1. Compliance: In many building codes and fire safety regulations, vision panels are required in certain fire-rated doors and walls to ensure compliance with safety standards.
  1. Aesthetics and Functionality: Vision panels can also contribute to a space’s overall design and functionality by providing natural light and visibility while maintaining fire protection.

In summary, vision panels play a crucial role in fire prevention and response by providing visibility, aiding in safe evacuation, facilitating monitoring by emergency responders, ensuring compliance with safety regulations, and enhancing the overall functionality of a space.

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