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Warringtonfire’s Birchwood Park laboratory enters final stages before opening

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New laboratory at Birchwood Park nears completion

Warringtonfire has made substantial progress on its new $30 million laboratory located at Birchwood Technology Park, now entering the ‘third fix’ stage of construction.

The facility, which covers 101,000 square feet, is poised to significantly expand the company’s capacity for fire resistance testing of essential fire safety products and systems.

Currently, four of the seven planned state-of-the-art fire resistance testing furnaces are installed and ready to begin the commissioning phase.

Technological advancements and environmental considerations at the forefront

The new laboratory boasts a suite of advanced technology designed to manage air quality during and after fire resistance tests.

This includes sophisticated air handling and high-performance ventilation systems, as well as systems for extracting both cold and hot smoke.

As part of these efforts, Element specialists conducted a thorough Environmental Impact Assessment, covering aspects such as acoustics, air quality dispersion, and emissions monitoring.

Strategic increases in testing capacity and future plans

By January 2025, when the laboratory is scheduled to open, it will feature two vertical and two horizontal furnaces, with an additional indicative furnace ready for testing.

Plans include the installation of two more furnaces by the end of 2026, ultimately increasing the testing capacity by 80% compared to the current facility in Holmesfield Road, Warrington.

The existing facility is set to become a centre of excellence focused on reaction to fire tests after the new laboratory’s inauguration.

Dafydd Llewelyn-Jones, the project manager at Element Materials Technology, highlighted the rapid progress: “We are on track with our progress and are actually seven weeks ahead of schedule in terms of the furnaces themselves.

“We are now moving swiftly along to fitting out all the office areas and control rooms, commissioning the building services, and completing the test bay preparation areas.”

He also expressed his enthusiasm for the project’s advancements: “It is brilliant to see this project coming together.

“We have put a significant amount of money into making this new laboratory truly one of the best in Europe, if not the world.”

Commitment to sustainability and state-of-the-art facilities

In addition to its technological prowess, the new laboratory is being developed with a strong focus on sustainability.

Efforts to reduce the site’s carbon footprint include installing energy-efficient fans and power supply transformers, which are optimised to use minimal electricity when idle.

The site will also feature electric vehicle infrastructure, such as EV forklifts and charging stations, and is designed to utilise a blend of clean hydrogen and natural gas in the future.

Leigh Hill, Director of Built Environment Europe, commented on the project’s scope and sustainability: “Our new laboratory will be the largest state-of-the-art fire testing and certification facility worldwide, and one of the most environmentally conscious too.

“We have made substantial investments in procuring the most cutting-edge building service equipment available today, reinforcing our position as industry leader and ensuring sustainable operation for years to come.”

IFSJ Comment

The development of Warringtonfire’s new laboratory at Birchwood Park marks a significant milestone in the enhancement of fire safety testing capabilities in the UK.

The integration of advanced testing furnaces and environmental technology reflects a forward-thinking approach to both safety and sustainability.

The increased capacity and focus on rigorous standards will undoubtedly contribute to the development of safer fire safety products and systems, benefiting the industry and public safety alike.

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