The game Alien Isolation frequently uses control panels and sometimes ducts that need to be cut open with a plasma torch. Always painted on these panels is "Cut open in case of emergency" or some such instruction (see below). Now, I know full well that A:I is going for a very specific type of 70's-80's sci-fi (and this may very well BE retro sci-fi thinking) but I was curious if this type of practice happens anywhere in the real world?

What would be the benefit of sealing off a control panel that needs to be cut open with a torch, if there is any beyond being an obstacle in a video game? Do these appear anywhere in the original Alien?

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  • I have no knowledge of this game whatsoever but in films (and real life) panels generally need to be cut open if you don't have the keys or if the power has been disabled.
    – Valorum
    Feb 3 '15 at 20:13
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    In addition to what @Richard said, there are glass "break in case of fire" panels. Maybe in a more turbulent environment, these would be prone to accidental breakage, so they would switch to something sturdier?
    – KSmarts
    Feb 3 '15 at 20:21
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    @KSmarts Sure, but I think an emergency is typically defined as something immediate, and not every person on board the ship will have a torch on them. Seems very unsafe. Also, I am not entirely sure Sevestapol is turbulent. It never seemed that way outside of the engine room Feb 3 '15 at 20:28
  • @Richard After taking a closer look, it seems as if the panels do have a key-hole (just about the top of the picture unfortunately). It seems to be that you're right. It seems to be a compromise between security and accessibility. It's designed to keep most people out but operates under the assumption that you will cut it open if there is an emergency. I don't think there's an actual good in-universe reason behind this. I guess I'd chalk it up to it being a video game obstacle that is modular so different control panels can be underneath the metal casing Feb 4 '15 at 20:38
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    Supposedly nuclear-armed submarines had launch codes available in a sealed safe with the expectation that it can be opened with a blowtorch if neccessary - ensuring that they are available, but in a manner that cannot be easily hidden or done too quickly. Read it somewhere else, but a source - newyorker.com/news/news-desk/…
    – Peteris
    Feb 9 '15 at 15:05

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