With construction continuing at pace, we are thrilled to announce that there are now only six months to go until we open our brand new $30m laboratory at Birchwood Park, Warrington. Specialist equipment is now being commissioned and the site is now entering the final stages of its build. 

Announced in August 2023, the new facility will significantly expand our fire testing capacity to meet the growing demand for critical fire safety services for products and systems within the built environment. 

On-site, we have now installed both the compressors and the spray booths that are used to apply intumescent coatings onto steel structures for fire testing, whilst the autofed shot blasting equipment essential for preparing test specimens will be completely installed within the next 14 weeks. All the furnaces for our launch in January 2025 are now in place, with just the electrical works and commissioning left to complete. 

The wall furnace gantry has been fitted, while the floor furnace gantry, with design approval secured, will be installed by the end of July. The indicative furnace gantry will enter a four-week manufacturing process by the end of the first week of July. The structural steel for the roof, which supports all external chimney stacks, has been delivered and installation has begun, with its completion expected by mid-July. All building equipment commissioning will be completed by early August, and the five furnaces will be commissioned by the end of September.

Additionally, our validation plan has been shared with UKAS to ensure a smooth accreditation process.

Get a sneak peek at our new laboratory in our latest video to get a true sense of scale of our 101,000sqft world-leading fire resistance testing facility and see the state-of-the-art equipment already installed, including:

  • Four Large Scale Furnaces: Two vertical (wall) and two horizontal (floor).
  • Specimen Preparation Areas: 18 wall preparation bays with space in the centre for curing and frame storage, designed to enhance installation space and confidentiality, and improve workflow.
  • Temperature Controlled Spray Booth Zone: Showcasing 7 confidential spray booths and the autofed shot blast booth boasting an abrasive recovery system for improved efficiency. To find out more about our new facility’s new equipment and capabilities, please click here.
Site Tour

View the latest developments at our Birchwood Park facility

Construction is advancing smoothly at our new fire resistance testing facility in Birchwood Park, Warrington, and we are excited to share the following video update with you.

The new laboratory will offer fire resistance testing for doors, glass and glazing, fire stopping, suspended ceilings, floors, structural steelwork protection, smoke curtains and components, walls and partitions, and much more.

Respecting our employees and community

Sustainability is a core value at Element, and our commitment to this has been recently recognised with our new laboratory receiving a Bronze award in the Considerate Constructors Scheme’s National Site Awards. This award, in partnership with our main contractor Tilbury Douglas, reflects our site’s perfect score of 45 out of 45 based on respect for the community, care for the environment, and value for our workforce.

Our commitment to our employees played a significant role in earning this award. We are installing several employee welfare amenities, including two canteen areas, accessible changing rooms and shower facilities, breakout rooms, and communal areas. These spaces will also be available for our customers to use when working at our laboratory. Furthermore, the office workspaces have been thoughtfully and intentionally designed to ensure a pleasant working environment. Snagging in the offices commenced in early June.

Despite not fully occupying the site until 2025, our Warrington-based colleagues have truly embraced the Birchwood Park community, demonstrating our commitment to ‘Respect for the Community’. We participated in the ‘Summer Fun Run’ and are set to take part in the ‘It’s a Knockout’ event, with fundraising efforts supporting the Parklife community's nominated charity, Peace & Mind UK. We extend our gratitude to the Birchwood Park community for their warm welcome.

Opening up new opportunities

To support our expansion and ensure our new and existing facilities meet the highest standards, we've welcomed several new senior appointments:

  • Adrian Pettitt, General Manager for Fire Resistance Testing 
  • Gary Hagan, Health, Safety and Environment Manager
  • Dale Kenyon, Engineering Manager
  • Julie Baker, Quality Manager.

We are also looking to appoint Maintenance Engineer positions and more Technical Officers for our new facility. To see all our current job opportunities, please visit our ‘Open Jobs’ page here.

Looking ahead

Our IT department has begun installing the communications cabinet infrastructure and the internal network, and conducting software programming. This modern, robust, and secure infrastructure is crucial to supporting our business operations.

As we near the completion of construction, our focus turns to Q3 for the final site enhancements. These will feature the installation of electric car charging facilities, enabling our employees and visitors to charge their vehicles sustainably while at work. Additionally, secure bike racks will be installed to promote sustainable, active travel for our local employees. In Q3, we will also commence the validation and corroborative testing of the furnaces, ensuring they meet the necessary rigorous standards for all our accredited fire testing services. 

The investment in our new site at Birchwood Park represents just one facet of Warringtonfire’s ongoing commitment to innovation and expansion. Our existing site at Holmesfield Road is poised to become a centre of excellence for reaction to fire testing. For example, recent investments in new equipment have already bolstered our capacity for single-burning item (SBI) testing of construction products. Our new test apparatus is expected to become operational in July, conducting tests on a variety of products such as wall and ceiling coverings and linear pipe insulation, adhering to the BS EN 13823 standard.

Stay tuned for our upcoming blog next quarter to learn more about our progress. You can stay up to date here. 

Book your Birchwood Park Testing