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Warringtonfire’s new Birchwood Park lab hits commissioning stage

Floor Furnace Area 1

Testing and certification provider Warringtonfire’s new laboratory at Birchwood Technology Park is now at the ‘third fix’ stage, with four out of a planned seven of its state-of-the-art fire resistance testing furnaces already installed, marking significant progress towards its completion and commissioning.

In August 2023, Warringtonfire announced it was building a brand new 101,000 sq ft facility. This significant investment enables Warringtonfire, part of the global Element Materials Technology (Element) group, to expand capacity and meet increasing demand for fire resistance testing of critical fire safety products and systems, such as fire doorsets, intumescent coatings for steel protection, and other passive fire protection solutions.

Ten months into Warringtonfire’s projected 17-month build programme, four furnaces have been fitted and are ready to enter the commissioning phase shortly. The furnaces will be supported by a raft of technology to carefully manage air quality both during and after the testing process.

This includes new air handling and high-performance ventilation systems, as well as cold smoke and hot smoke extraction systems, ensuring a better working environment for employees and compliance with strict environmental regulations. To support this, specialists from Element undertook an extensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) involving acoustics and noise modelling, air quality dispersion modelling, and emissions monitoring.

By the laboratory’s open date, scheduled for January 2025, two vertical furnaces, two horizontal furnaces, and one indicative furnace will be ready to accept test specimens. Another two furnaces, one horizontal and one vertical, will be installed by the end of 2026. In total, this will represent an 80% increase in testing capacity over Warringtonfire’s current site at Holmesfield Road, Warrington. Following the opening of the Birchwood Park laboratory, the existing facility will become a centre of excellence for reaction to fire testing, which are smaller scale tests including spread of flame and heat release.

Dafydd Llewelyn-Jones,  Element Materials Technology project manager, has been coordinating the laboratory’s construction. He says, “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.

“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.”

Besides the investment into furnaces, Warringtonfire is committed to reducing the laboratory’s carbon footprint and making the new site as sustainable as possible. Measures 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.

Leigh Hill, director, Built Environment Europe, added: “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.”

For more information about Warringtonfire’s new site, the latest updates or to book for 2025, please visit


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