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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

FY 05-12

Contacts: Donna Sellers/Sheree
L. Mixell


For Immediate Release

March 24, 2005


ATF National Laboratory Center

Fire Research Lab Receive GSA Design Award

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Laboratory Center and Fire Research Laboratory were recently selected as award winners by the 2004 General Services Administration Design Award Jury. Nine ATF employees, the ATF contractor and GSA construction company were also cited for their contributions to the project.

The GSA Design Award Program is held every two years to honor the best of the best of the federal projects designed and constructed by GSA.

The National Laboratory Center (NLC) and Fire Research Laboratory (FRL) building project received an award for “Architecture and Engineering.” The FRL project was one of 15 award winners and one of 143 entries nationwide to be considered for an award. The award was presented today in a ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Center, Amphitheatre in Washington, D.C.

ATF employees cited for their contributions are:

New Building Project Office employees:

Mignon Anthony, director,
Kannatis Crawford, technology manager
Cheryl Duckett-Moody, contracting officer

National Laboratory Center employees:

Michael Ethridge, director, Office of Laboratory Services
Rick Tontarski, chief, Fire Research Laboratory
Stephen Hill, fire research engineer, FRL
Dave Sheppard, Ph.D., senior fire research engineer, FRL
Kenneth Steckler, engineering section chief, FRL
Michael Donahue, fire scientist, FRL

ATF contractor and lead construction manager Robert Hando from McKissack and McKissack was also cited for contributions to the project.

“The National Laboratory Center and Fire Research Lab are vital assets to the ATF mission,” said ATF Director Carl J. Truscott. “Studies conducted at this facility are helping law enforcement agencies throughout the world solve some of their most challenging criminal cases including the crime of arson. Designing and constructing the world’s first laboratory devoted to fire investigation support and forensic fire research was a challenge.” Truscott added, that it is important to acknowledge John W. Magaw and Bradley A. Buckles, two former ATF directors, under whose leadership and guidance the NLC was built.

“The Fire Research Laboratory provides the state of the art and cutting edge technology to give fire investigators and forensic scientists the tools they need to do their job,” said Mary Galvin, Connecticut State’s Attorney Office and the National District Attorney’s Association liaison to the Fire Research Laboratory Partnership Council.

The National Laboratory Center houses three laboratories:

The ATF Forensic Science Laboratory - Washington, which evaluates evidence obtained in crimes involving firearms, arson and explosives incidents and alcohol and tobacco diversion investigations.

The ATF Fire Research Laboratory, the first facility in the world dedicated to fire scene investigations, including the ability to reconstruct fire scenes to determine how fires begin and spread. The FRL has the facilities, equipment and staff to work on important fire investigation issues such as fire scene reconstruction, flashover studies, validation of fire pattern analysis indicators, impact of accelerants on fire growth and spread, ignition studies and electrical fire cause analysis.

Until the development of the FRL, there were no fire measurement facilities in the United States, or elsewhere, dedicated to the specific needs of fire investigation community.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s Scientific Services Division laboratory, which works to ensure the integrity of alcohol and tobacco products and to accurately classify these products for tax purposes.

Other facts:

  • Construction of the ATF National Laboratory Center began in August 2000 on a 35-acre site in suburban Maryland. The facility was dedicated June 16, 2003, replacing the ATF Laboratory in Rockville, Maryland.
  • The 176,000 square foot building extends the length of two football fields and, in addition to laboratory analysis and fire research space, includes areas for conferences and training, a library, and administrative and service support functions.
  • As a result of innovative engineering and cutting-edge technology, the air and water treatment facility incorporates the highest degree of recycling and clean air capability.
  • Final costs for the project, including the site, design and special engineering total $106 million.