The Fire Research Station – or FRS as it is generally known – was established at Borehamwood in 1949, but the history of fire research at Borehamwood dates back still further to the opening of the Fire Offices’ Committee (FOC) testing station there in 1935.
FRS quickly established itself as a key centre of research into fire prevention and control, and a front runner in the development of fire safety engineering. In 1972 it joined two other research organisations (the Building Research Station and the Forest Products Research Laboratory) to form the Building Research Establishment (BRE), but remained at Borehamwood and retained its FRS identity.
Throughout its history, FRS has conducted ground breaking research that has made a vital contribution to improving fire safety in buildings. Its extraordinarily diverse research has ranged from investigating fires of national importance including at Bradford City Football club and Windsor Castle, to pioneering the development of computer fire modelling which is today the bedrock of Fire Safety Engineering design worldwide. The ‘Front Room Fire’ video, shockingly demonstrated how quickly and devastatingly a blaze could spread from a small furniture fire to engulf a room and this, along with the fire research have made important impacts on the life safety of people in and around buildings and transportation.
In 1994 FRS moved to Watford to join BRE colleagues already there, and to occupy a purpose-built office and seminar unit call the ‘Environmental Building’, a model of environmental design and construction. At the same time a new fire testing Burn Hall housing a 10MW calorimeter – the largest of its type in Europe – was built on the site.
In 2000 BRE acquired the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) – established in 1985 to assess and approve fire and security products – which had also been based at Borehamwood and now moved to join FRS in the Environmental Building with extensive new laboratory facilities for fire detection and suppression research and testing.