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Safe escape route from fires

28 June 2010

VHB Acrylic Foam Tape 5952, a high-strength product from 3M, the diversified technology company, is playing a key role in an invention aimed at helping occupants breathe and escape from buildings in the event of fire.

Safe escape route from fires
Safe escape route from fires

Developed by Northern Ireland based LMInnov8s, the BreakOut is a mechanical emergency escape device designed specifically to break glass, in particular double glazing, from the inside.

It is fixed to the top or bottom corner of a window and operated by removing a safety pin and then pressing the safety button. This activates a spring loaded device which can break through either single or double glazing to allow an air supply and escape route.

The spring loaded mechanism carries a force of 500N and travels at 18 metres per second. Its effectiveness is dependent on a robust base which is not loosened by the resistance in the glass, allowing the full force of the spring to be transferred to the glass to break it. LMInnov8s therefore selected VHB Acrylic Foam Tape 5952 from 3M - a highly conformable, pressure-sensitive double-sided product which is easy to apply and offers outstanding adhesion qualities on glass and a variety of other substrates.

It boasts a static shear strength of 1500g at 22°C, based on weight held for 10,000 minutes to stainless steel with ½ sq in (3.23 cm²) overlap while offering strong resistance against solvents and UV light. The product is die cut 52mm x 52mm for this application.

Extensive salt water testing, peel tests and shear tests were conducted through 3M's own laboratory, all of which were key to the specification of this product.

Paul O'Hare of LMInnov8s explained: "This product is aimed at providing a simple and cost-effective alternative to specialised fire escape windows and is suitable for virtually any standard single or double-glazed window. So often during fires, windows represent a barrier to fresh air or escape, especially in taller buildings and until now, there has been no specialised product available to break glass in this way.

"For fitting, we were keen to offer a simple solution for DIY users. The tape we have selected from 3M is an industrial strength product which is easy to apply and provides an instant bond and a firm base for the mechanism to work from, with none of the mess or waste that would be associated with other fixing methods.

"Any homeowner fitting this product can enjoy peace of mind that in the
event of a fire which blocks routes to their usual exits, they will be able break a window and access fresh air until the emergency services arrive."

The technology will appear in retail stores across the UK from this autumn.

The company is also undertaking research into developing the project to replace the traditional hammer-based emergency window breaking systems found on trains and other forms of public transport.

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