Specifying vision panels in apartment doors

How To Specify Vision Panels In Apartment Fire Doors

In some situations, it may be appropriate to specify a fire door that has vision panels. For apartment buildings, this may be to facilitate a safe escape route or to let light into an otherwise dark area of the building.

Whatever your requirements, this blog aims to ‘shed light’ on some key things to consider when specifying vision panels in fire doorsets for your apartment building project.

Read on to find out more…

Vision Panels & DDA Compliance

How Can Architects Put The Able Into Disabled

If specifying vision panels in apartment fire doors, it’s best practice to ensure that they’re DDA compliant. Here are some key notes to bear in mind:

-If door leaves are wider than 450mm and are either entrance doors, doors across corridors and within lobbies and appropriate internal doors, vision panels should be specified.

-Entrance and lobby doors (other than those to dwellings) should have viewing panels to alert people approaching a door to the presence of another person on the other side.

-A door with a single viewing panel should have a minimum zone of visibility between 500mm and 1500mm from the floor.

-If the door needs to have a horizonal section – for strength or to accommodate furniture – the door should have two viewing panels.

-The size and position of the vision panel should enable a wheelchair user or person of short stature to see, and be seen, by other persons approaching from the other side of the door.

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Specifying Vision Panels in Apartment Doors

Where doors on escape routes sub-divide corridors or where doors are hung to swing both ways, vision panels will also be needed.

If the glazed element within your apartment fire door can only satisfy the relevant performance when it comes to integrity, the use of glass should be limited. However, if performance can be met in terms of both integrity and insulation, then there are no restrictions as to the amount of glass used.

Glazed Apartment Doors: Integrity or Insulation

Quite often, budget constraints will impact your options around integrity glass, insulation glass or both, and your building’s fire strategy may take this choice away from you.

To briefly outline the difference between the two:

Integrity glass – Stops fire penetrating through the doorset or screen but doesn’t stop heat penetration. After a period of time, this will cause material ignition on the opposite side of the door leaf. If touched, you risk serious burning.

Insulation glass – stops the transfer of heat if touched in the event of fire.

When Should You Specify for Both Integrity and Insulation?

There will be some situations where it will be necessary to specify for both integrity and insulation.

If, for example, your apartment building only has one fire escape, the specified doorsets within the fire escape routes will need to have both integrity and insulation glass.

However, when reviewing your fire strategy, attention should be paid to those doorsets and screens within escape corridors, regardless of how many escape routes your building has.

Let’s say, for example, a fire breaks out. The victim will need to make their way to the exit but cannot see clearly as smoke has managed to fill the escape corridor. In the absence of sight, you will naturally turn to your other senses, feeling your way along the wall. Can you imagine the potential injury caused by someone touching an uninsulated piece of glass?

Vision Panels That Create a Statement

Of course, glazed fire doorsets can serve an aesthetic purpose, too, and in some cases, if you require a larger piece of glass but can’t get fire performance certification on an integrity glass, changing to insulated glass may allow you to achieve your visual aims.

Secondly, you can experiment with the shape of the vision panel(s), opting for more angular designs for a dramatic impact or curved lines to achieve a softer appearance. As long as the glazing in the fire door performs equal to the door core, you do have options to be unique with your vision panels.


When specifying glass in fire doors, there are many factors at play. The size of the glass, the glazing gasket and the beads that hold it in place are all critical to the integrity of the door and must be fitted accordingly.

To discuss your project further, don’t hesitate to get in touch with an expert; simply call 0161 480 8722.

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