At first glance, it could be mistaken for a big, red, metal barn rising up on the horizon outside Waterloo. But the bank of huge fans at one end of the building suggests that something very different goes on inside.
This is the Live Fire Research Facility at the University of Waterloo. The facility allows researchers to set and study all kinds of fires in a controlled environment, and the fans add the final touch of realism: winds of up to 47 kilometres per hour. The cavernous main test space contains a two-storey “burn house”, but can also be configured to study fires in vehicles or even aircraft. Cameras and sensors in the room feed 380 streams of data to an adjoining lab and control room. The structure, and its state-of-the-art equipment, was funded in part by an investment from the Ontario Innovation Trust.