There are exciting developments being made as we enter the ‘third fix’ stage of our new $30m Warringtonfire laboratory at Birchwood Technology Park.

Four out of a planned seven state-of-the-art fire resistance testing furnaces have already been installed, as we count down to the official opening in nine months’ time.

Since announcing the development of a brand new 101,000sqft facility in August 2023, we are making excellent progress on the new facility which will enable us to expand capacity and meet increasing demand for fire resistance testing of critical fire safety products and systems within the built environment.

Four furnaces have been installed and are on track to begin the commissioning process soon. These furnaces will be accompanied by advanced technology to effectively control air quality during and post-fire testing. This technology includes upgraded air handling and ventilation systems, as well as cold and hot smoke extraction systems. These improvements will not only deliver best-in-class working conditions for our employees and clients but also ensure that we are compliant with relevant environmental regulations.

To further support our environmental efforts, our colleagues from Element Materials Technology undertook an extensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which involved offering expertise in acoustics and noise modelling, air quality dispersion modelling, and emissions monitoring.

By January 2025, the Birchwood Park laboratory will have two vertical furnaces, two horizontal furnaces, and one indicative furnace ready for test specimens. An additional two furnaces (one horizontal and one vertical) will be installed by the end of 2026, increasing testing capacity by 80% compared to Warringtonfire’s current Holmesfield Road laboratory at Warrington. After the Birchwood Park laboratory opens, the existing facility will focus on reaction to fire testing, specifically undertaking smaller scale tests such as spread of flame and heat release, with a view to becoming a centre of excellence in this area.

As well as investment in fire testing equipment and state-of-the-art furnaces, we are committed to reducing the laboratory’s carbon footprint and making the new site as sustainable as possible.

Left: Installation of our new floor furnaces. Right: Installation of our new wall furnaces.

Measures to make our laboratory eco-friendly include energy-efficient fans, upgraded power supply transformers that consume minimal electricity when idle, and electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure including a fleet of EV forklifts and charging points. The site will also be well lit, through a combination of natural light from skylights and LED lighting that delivers a high lux level. In addition, the laboratory is set up to accept a blend of clean hydrogen and natural gas once local infrastructure offers this service.

Above: Installation of our new spray booths.

Our commitment to an environmentally conscious fire testing and certification site that is also beneficial to our employees is the reason behind a host of additional employee-focused extras. The implementation of secure bike racks alongside EV charging points, for example, is aimed at making sustainable travel to work accessible for all our employees.

Additionally, the new site will have three meeting rooms on the first floor, along with communal rooms that clients can utilise for working while on our premises. We are also looking to introduce a ‘multi-faith’ room where our employees will have a dedicated space to privately practise their religion while at work.

As part of our ongoing mission to deliver an exceptional customer experience at all our fire testing facilities, the Birchwood Park laboratory will have dedicated control rooms and viewing galleries, where customers can witness their products being tested in real time. There will also be preparation bays where clients will be able to set up their products for testing and do so confidentially.

While the clock continues to count down to the opening of the new Birchwood Park laboratory site, you can keep up to date with all the latest developments and updates in our bi-monthly blogs. To stay up to date with progress on our new laboratory and what it will offer, please click here.

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