LU Fire Testing and Research Laboratory (LUFTRL)


Burning BuildingFire Safety Engineering is the application of scientific and engineering principles developed based on well understanding of the effects of fire and how to protect people, property, and the environment. A very crucial assessment method for fire safety is fire resistance testing which can be carried out only in a highly equipped fire testing laboratory. Buildings fire safety is an important and a fast-developing sector of fire safety engineering. As the design and construction of buildings continues to develop along with the production of new and innovative materials, careful applications of fire safety principles become more crucial. Most importantly, conduct applicable fire resistance testing on new construction materials and industrial products to ensure its compliance to local, provincial and/or national and international building codes is of high demand.

As a significant contribution to research in the field of structural fire engineering Dr. Sam Salem, a tenured professor in the Dept. of Civil Engineering and expert in structural fire engineering, has founded the state-of-the-art Fire Testing and Research Laboratory (LUFTRL) at Lakehead University’s campus in the City of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Dr. Salem is also a licensed professional engineer registered at Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) with several years of industrial experience as structural engineer, as he worked on a wide variety of industrial and research projects on the application of structural fire engineering in the design and construction practice over the last fifteen years. Dr. Salem has several refereed publications in this fast-developing area of structural fire engineering.

Facility Description

Early in 2013, Dr. Salem was appointed by Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) as a Project Leader for the new Fire Testing and Research Laboratory. The construction of this state-of-the-art facility was financially supported by Canada Foundation for innovation (CFI), Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation (OMRI), Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and Lakehead University. The recently-constructed fire testing laboratory is one of the very few facilities of its kind in the world, and the only structural fire testing facility in a Canadian University.

This world-class facility accommodates a large-size state-of-the-art fire testing furnace that is utilized to study and evaluate the fire resistance of various construction materials and building structural components and assemblies, such as full-sized beams, columns, and floor and wall assemblies, while subjected to elevated temperatures of standard or realistic fire scenarios that can reach up to 1300˚C. The main part of the testing furnace is an insulated reinforced-steel chamber with a main large opening on the top and a large movable front door that allow the insertion of large-size test assemblies. The testing furnace is equipped with an advanced control panel with Human-Machine Interface (HMI) touchscreen to provide a very controlled temperature exposure to different test assemblies. Several logic and safeguard circuits and devices are installed and attached to the furnace to provide personnel and equipment protection, as well as to perfectly control the operation of the furnace. The fire testing furnace is also equipped with large insulated exhaust duct that is connected from outside the facility with an afterburner unit having a tall stack to efficiently treat the furnace’s combustion gases, as per the requirements of the Ministry of Environment. The furnace is carried on and surrounded by a strong steel loading structure that was designed to apply the desired transverse loads and to support different test assemblies during fire resistance testing. A 1.0-ton jib crane is also installed in the new facility to handle heavy and large test assemblies. The newly-constructed fire testing and research laboratory has a floor space to assemble and prepare the different test assemblies before installing them into the furnace, as well as a control room that is equipped with a few computer workstations and logic control units to monitor and eventually analyze the outcomes of the various fire resistance tests.

 A large-size custom-designed fire testing furnace accommodated at LUFTRL








A large-size custom-designed fire testing furnace accommodated at LUFTRL


A full-sized heavy timber beam-to-column building assembly undergoing fire testing at LUFTRL

A full-sized heavy timber beam-to-column building assembly undergoing fire testing at LUFTRL


A full-sized heavy timber beam-to-column building assembly underwent fire testing at LUFTRL

A full-sized heavy timber beam-to-column building assembly underwent fire testing at LUFTRL


Available Fire Testing Services

From construction materials and products to textiles and furniture, testing for fire resistance, flammability, and flame spread is often required before these products can be accepted for public use. With our ability to conduct tests to CAN/ULC, ANSI/UL, ASTM, and NFPA standards, researchers and industry partners and clients from various sectors can have access to our professional fire testing services. Whether clients require testing to industry requirements or association standards, or custom testing for research and development, we have the capability and expertise to accomplish the needed mission. In addition, the LU Fire Testing and Research Laboratory (LUFTRL) can offer consultancy services to industry clients and engineering firms in the field of structural fire engineering. Every job is tailored to the specific needs of the client, with care being taken to ensure that work is carried out to the highest standards and that reporting is done at the level required by the client.

The following is a list of some of the main services that can be offered by LUFTRL;

  • Evaluation of fire resistance of construction materials, products, or assemblies;
  • Measure the propagation of a flame away from the source of ignition across the surface of a material or assembly, and evaluate the potential for spreading flames in the event of a fire;
  • Engineering consultancy services through performing required fire resistance testing and/or computer modelling;
  • Development of testing protocols to assess the fire resistance of non-standardized products;
  • Technical advice on the compliance of materials with regulatory requirements;
  • Conformity assessment services to demonstrate compliance with local, provincial and/or national and international codes and standards for fire safety applications.

Contact Information

To request more information or for inquiries about all available technical services, the contact information of LUFTRL director is listed below;

Dr. Sam Salem, Ph.D., P.Eng.

Associate Professor, Dept. of Civil Engineering, Lakehead University

Founder and Director of LU Fire Testing and Research Laboratory

Telephone: (807) 343-8011


For more information /details about current research projects being conducted in the facility, as well as recent publications, please go to: