Carleton University, in partnership with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), is proud to present the expanded Fire Research Facility, which now includes a Tunnel Facility located at Almonte, Ontario, Canada.

The Carleton University expansion, funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Innovation Trust, complements the fire and safety research capabilities of the existing NRC fire research centre. This unique worldclass facility hosts collaborative full-scale burn experiments for interested researchers involved in the construction and transportation industries.

The new tunnel facility is the most sophisticated of its kind in the world. It is a fully instrumented space measuring 10m wide, 5.5m high and 37m long, used for conducting tests that simulate realistic fires in roadway and mass-transit tunnels.

Adjacent to the tunnel are other new Carleton University Fire Research Facilities, which include:

  • An atrium with approximate dimensions of 20m x 20m x 26.5m high. The atrium facility is linked to the NRC 10-storey facility and will provide new opportunities for investigating smoke management in high-rise buildings and large-volume spaces.
  • A burn hall with dimensions of 20m x 20m x 12m high. This hall is used to investigate scenarios involving large fires for homes or buildings.

The tunnel facility can accommodate a full size train or subway car. The atrium performs a similar function for high-rise construction scenarios, using one of the tallest test spaces available anywhere. The new tunnel, the atrium and the burn hall, combined with the existing NRC facilities, use a comprehensive sensor array to collect full data sets in real time. This eliminates the need for extrapolating or modelling experimental data, and enables research into fire types and spread, fire suppression, smoke management and all other aspects of large-scale fires.

Collaborative and Hosted Research

Twenty-six partners including universities, government agencies and industry, from Canada, the U.S. and Switzerland, conducted research in the tunnel facility to examine the effectiveness of a variety of fire detection systems. The most recent program examined fire detector performance in the harsh environments found in today’s high usage subways and vehicle tunnels. Future research will be conducted in areas such as emergency ventilation, fire suppression and effectiveness of safety signs. The next stage of the research program will see the tunnel used for full-scale burn experiments.