Gloucester fire safety specialists build firewall at new UK vaccines manufacturing centre

Vaccines Manufacturing & Innovation Centre

Gloucester-based fire safety construction specialists ISD Solutions are building a fast-track firewall element at the UK’s new Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) at Harwell in Oxfordshire.

The firewall division of the Gloucester firm was recently contracted to provide the two-storey building with almost 5,000m2 of extensive certified fireproof separation walls.

VMIC was established to provide the UK’s first strategic vaccine development and advanced manufacturing capability. It has taken a leading role in advising Government teams on vaccines manufacturing in response to Covid-19.

VMIC ISD SolutionsOnce operationally ready, the 7,400m2 facility, at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, will have capacity to manufacture up to 70 million doses of a pandemic vaccine within a six month timeframe.

Demand for the site accelerated when the pandemic started, construction was backed by UK Government and Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the site in September.

It was around this time that ISD was selected through a tender process as the supplier of the fireproofing elements of the building.

The VMIC facility is due to open in summer 2021, a year ahead of schedule.

Brett Harrington, Manager of ISD Solutions’ Firewall Division, said: “The VMIC facility is a vital weapon in the UK’s fight against coronavirus and, as such, security and safety is crucial.

“This was an exciting opportunity to be involved in a project of such importance. The compressed timelines have added to the challenge but we have sufficient resources in house and quickly mobilised our design and project management teams. Working with our supply chain we were able to support the synchronisation of material ordering and delivery, even while the design phase was ongoing.”

“We are all proud to have played a role in the nation’s future recovery from the pandemic.”

During the past 12 months ISD Solutions has doubled down on its in-house fire expertise, part of its strategy to provide specialist services required by the market. Both Brett Harrington and managing director Adrian Smith becoming among the first worldwide to have passed the new Level 3 Certificate in Passive Fire Protection from the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE).

The qualifications put ISD Solutions as one of a select group of UK construction contractors to be at the pinnacle of fire safety expertise.

“Our expertise is becoming more widely recognised and, combined with our relationships with product suppliers, this makes ISD a reliable provider for such urgent work,” said Mr Harrington.

“Our clients receive surety in our installations, which are designed and installed to LPS 1500/1531 standards from the BRE, with a third party backed certificate of conformity.”

Glencar Construction is the main contractor at VMIC in Harwell and began on-site ground works in early April, with the basebuild ready for access for fit-out a few weeks ago.

Eddie McGillycuddy, Managing Director of Glencar Construction said: “We have made an accelerated start and reduced our construction programme with the support of our partners, making this project an excellent example of all that is good about our industry.”

Chris Lucas, Chief Operating Officer at VMIC said: “The programme acceleration to allow VMIC to open its doors in 2021, a year ahead of schedule, has been made possible by an extraordinary level of cooperation by all concerned.

“We have focussed on collaboration to deliver this critical resource both in the battle against pandemic viruses and the rejuvenation of the vaccines industry in the UK.”