Catalogue description Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and Fire Offices' Committee: Joint Fire Research Organisation: Registered Files (F Series)

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Details of DSIR 48
Reference: DSIR 48
Title: Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and Fire Offices' Committee: Joint Fire Research Organisation: Registered Files (F Series)

This series contains files of the Joint Fire Research Organisation and the Fire Research Station. Subjects include the testing of fire resistance of structures, materials and objects; investigation of fire fighting methods and organisation; and the investigation of the causes of fire in specific cases.

Date: 1951-1970

The F prefix was first used in 1946 by JFRO and continued to be used by the Station until at least 1970, when it was superseded by the FRO series. There is considerable overlap between these two series. In addition, the Station used FRS and A (Advisory) prefixes to indicate fee-paid work for companies or organisations. Following the prefix, a hierarchical numbering system was used: the first number denoting a subject and a sub-number a specific case.

Related material:

Papers concerning fire research work undertaken by the Ministry of Home Security's Fire Research Division are in HO 192

See also AY 1

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in The National Archives: F file series
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Joint Fire Research Organisation, 1946-1965

Fire Research Station, 1949-1977

Physical description: 32 file(s)
Access conditions: Subject to 30 year closure
Administrative / biographical background:

In 1909 the Fire Offices' Committee, a body representing fire insurance companies, established a fire testing station in Manchester. The importance of a comprehensive programme of fire research was realised during the First World War, and in 1920 an inter-departmental committee recommended the establishment of a central advisory board. No action resulted and the initiative in fire research was taken by the fire insurance companies, of which the Fire Officers' Committee was the most important representative body. This committee had established a testing station at Manchester in 1909, the bulk of its work being devoted to improving the fire resistance of buildings. As a result of discussion between the committee, the DSIR and various other interested organisations the committee undertook to erect a new Fire Testing Station at Alstree, in which furnaces for testing fire resistance were installed. The station was opened in November 1935 and by arrangement was available to the department and to the Building Research Station for a programme of research on the fire resistance of structures and the conduct of tests of proprietary forms of structure on behalf of manufacturers who desired reports of performance from the department.

In 1936 a Home Office Committee on Fire Brigade Services under Lord Riverdale recommended that the department set up a Fire Prevention Research Board to initiate and supervise scientific research into questions of fire prevention and extinction, and in 1938 the Advisory Council recommended the establishment under the department of an organisation for research on fire fighting. The outbreak of war in 1939 prevented the implementation of these proposals for the time being, but from 1938 a Fire Resistance Research Committee of the Building Research Board and the Fire Offices' Committee organised research on fire resistance of elements of structure, and a similar joint committee was set up to study fire grading of buildings. In 1939 the department set up at the Building Research Station a small section to carry out research on certain engineering problems associated with fire fighting.

During the Second World War fire research was undertaken by the Fire Research Division of the Ministry of Home Security, and in April 1946 this division was taken over by the DSIR. In that year the department and the Fire Offices' Committee established a Joint Fire Research Organisation to conduct research on all aspects of prevention and extinction of fires, safety of life in fires and the mitigation of damage, working in collaboration with the Building Research Organisation on fire resistance of buildings. Those fire insurance companies who were not members of the committee were also eligible to join. A director of fire research and his staff were to be appointed by the department after consultation with the committee. The costs of the organisation were to be shared equally by the department and the committee, and as part of its contribution to the capital cost the committee transferred its Fire Testing Station to the government. A Fire Research Board was appointed in October 1946 to make recommendation for fire research and to supervise the conduct of investigations at the station, which was in 1949 renamed the Fire Research Station. The members of the board were nominated jointly by the department and the committee, the chairman by the department.

In 1965 responsibility for the Joint Fire Research Organisation passed to the Ministry of Technology and the board ceased to function. The research station later passed to the Department of Trade and Industry in 1970 and the Department of the Environment in 1971. In January 1972 it was amalgamated with the Building Research Station and the Forest Products Research Laboratory to form the Building Research Establishment of the Department of the Environment; some facilities for fire testing, which had been undertaken by the station in association with the Fire Offices' Committee and mostly routine in character, were transferred to the committee. The station is now mainly engaged on research leading to the specification of requirements for fire prevention and to the formulation of suitable testing methods. It became an executive agency in 1993. In September 1994 the Station vacated the site at Borehamwood and moved to the Building Research Establishment's site at Garston, near Watford.

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