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January 9, 2018

New Jackson Lab facility includes safeguards to meet unique fire challenges

The new Jackson Laboratory facility under construction in Ellsworth includes numerous safeguards to guard against unique fire challenges.

The Ellsworth American reported the facility, scheduled to open between April and June, uses as little combustible material as possible in construction, with steel studs and concrete boards, cameras, sprinklers, and smoke and fire barriers throughout. The specialized sprinklers use an inert gas rather than water to avoid compromising the sterile environment. Compartmentalization will help contain a fire.

"In Jackson Lab history, there's 90 years' worth of lessons being incorporated. It really is state-of-the-art," Senior Director of Facilities John Fitzpatrick told the newspaper.

"Just being able to get the personnel and the equipment into the building is going to take more people than we typically have. We're going to be relying heavily on our paid on-call members and on our mutual aid departments," Ellsworth Fire Chief Richard Tupper told the newspaper.

Bar Harbor-based Jackson Laboratory broke ground for the facility, which is a retrofit and expansion of a former Lowe's Home Improvement retail store, in August 2016. The former big-box location is being converted into a mouse vivarium for breeding research mice that will be sold to biomedical labs across the globe. The project involved expanding the 140,000-square-foot building to an additional 68,000 square feet on the first floor's interior.

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