Skip to main content

Fire and Hazards Science

Our university's expertise and state-of-the-art fire test facilities allow fire hazards of materials to be quantified under realistic conditions. This supports the development of fire-safe materials, and improves public safety through contributions to professional knowledge and international fire safety regulations.

Our fire and hazards science research expertise includes the development of fire retardant materials, and assessment of fire toxicity, the chemistry of fire, fire safety engineering and computational fluid dynamics.

Staff at the Fire Research Laboratory combine a variety of experimental methods with many years’ experience in understanding the burning behaviour of all types of materials.

Open-ended research projects are underpinned by expertise in mechanisms of fire retardant behaviour, and specific industry-standard tests.

The Centre for Fire and Hazards Science has unique testing facilities for investigating the burning behaviour of materials, which has resulted in major contributions to national and international fire safety regulations.

Understanding of the complex mechanisms of burning, and the identification of the precursors supporting flaming combustion has allowed interventions which are effective in reducing flammability, smoke and toxicity. An example of this is the promotion of char formation rather than the release of flammable species at elevated temperatures, simultaneously reducing ignitability, smoke and its toxicity.

To find out more about research in Fire and Hazards Science, contact:

Professor Richard Hull, or Dr Anna Stec


Fire affects the whole of our society. In addition to the tragic loss of life, injury and damage to property, fire has enormous indirect costs. As examples, about a third of all plastics contain fire retardants, which can make them much more difficult to recycle or reprocess; new buildings have inbuilt fire safety measures, accounting for over 2.5% of their cost; the harmful effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on the environment from unwanted fires have been estimated to be of the same order of magnitude as those from diesel emissions.

The largest loss of life in fire and the greatest number of injuries, result from inhalation of toxic smoke. Pioneering work by the team at UCLan has resulted in the development of the first international standard for quantifying fire toxicity under realistic fire conditions.

Fire experts from around the world visited Preston for a unique conference Fire Toxicity 2016 to discuss the toxic nature of fire smoke.

In September 2017 Dr Anna Stec was invited to the European Parliament’s Members Against Cancer (MAC) Group, in association with Fire Safe Europe.

She unveiled new research findings to the European Parliament which could lead to the recognition of cancer as an occupational health issue for firefighters.

She joined with MEP Pavel Poc who has been leading the call for legislative change in this area, for a roundtable discussion to debate all the issues and explore solutions.

To view photos from the event please see our Flickr gallery.

Watch a video summary of the debate ‘Fire Fighters at Risk’