Every year, hundreds of Filipinos die and billions of pesos worth of properties are lost because of fires. To help reduce the amount of agony and loss caused by fire incidents, the Forest Products Research and Development Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-FPRDI) recently re-opened its fire testing lab, the only one of its kind in the country.

“Our newly re-opened lab is still in its infancy – right now, it only has basic equipment for verifying the ignitability and combustibility of small wood samples, but I think it’s a good start,” says DOST-FPRDI Director Romulo T. Aggangan. “The lab brings more affordable services to players in the construction industry who otherwise will have to send their samples for testing in accredited labs in Singapore and Malaysia.”

More accessible services will mean local building contractors and construction materials developers are more able to follow the National Fire and Building Codes, leading to better enforcement of fire safety laws.

DOST-FPRDI pioneered fire testing research in the Philippines in 1961, and for many years, it provided testing services to the construction industry. It had to stop in recent years, however, as its outdated machines could no longer keep up with industry requirements.

According to DOST-FPRDI’s Shirley A. Pelayo, “With our newly acquired and designed equipment, we can now give more effective fire testing services to our clients. We also look forward to an upgraded lab in the near future as we have just recently submitted to a funding partner a proposal to purchase more modern equipment. We are excited just thinking that as we improve our facility, we can help our clients follow basic fire safety rules, leading to more protected lives and property. (Rizalina K. Araral, DOST-FPRDI)