More Than a Century of Technical Integrity

FM Approvals’ rich history of property loss prevention testing spans over a century. The timeline below highlights our turning points throughout the years, as we’ve developed testing methods to ensure that products adhere to the highest standards in quality, technical integrity and performance, backed by sound scientific research.

Our Timeline


FM Approvals Founded

John R. Freeman begins his fundamental experimentation with hydraulics as it relates to fire protection. This is considered the official beginning of the Factory Mutual Laboratories, now known as FM Approvals. Pioneers in their field, the Factory Mutual Laboratories are the first permanent laboratories in the United States—and possibly the world—dedicated to the testing of fire-protection devices.


Sprinkler System Testing

Freeman performs an extensive series of tests to determine the pipe sizes necessary to provide adequate water volume at each sprinkler in a system. His results are still the basis for sprinkler system hydraulic calculations.


Approval Guide Published

Approved Electrical Fittings is published and eventually evolves into the Approval Guide, an online resource of more than 60,000 FM Approved products.


Factory Mutual Fire Testing Begins

Factory Mutual fire testing begins modestly in a shed in the middle of an apple farm in Woburn, MA, USA.


New Site for Fire Testing

The fire test facility moves from Woburn to a site in Everett, MA, USA. Engineers begin a series of tests to study explosions of flammable dust and vapors in special enclosures. Other tests are run to determine the effectiveness of various extinguishing agents.


Advancing Fire Extinguisher Testing

The Laboratories are the first to use square steel pans to test fire extinguishers. The liquid fuel depth of two inches on water (affording a six-inch freeboard) provides a realistic challenge that more accurately tests the capabilities of extinguishers than previous methods.


Full-Scale Fire Test Facility Built

The first full-scale fire test facility is built in Norwood, MA, USA. Specifically designed for large-scale fire testing, it enhances research and testing capabilities.


Hydraulics Laboratory Built

Another building in Norwood is completed. Building No. 1 includes new space for the hydraulics laboratory, as well as areas for testing combustion controls, fire extinguishers, and fire alarm and detection equipment.


Roof Assembly Testing Begins

Roof assembly tests are begun in a specially designed facility nicknamed, “The White House.”


Testing with a Calorimeter

A construction materials calorimeter is placed in operation to test the fuel contribution of various building materials that can be involved in a fire.


A New Era in Protection Testing

The Factory Mutual Test Center (now the FM Global Research Campus) opens in West Glocester, RI, USA. It’s the only facility of its kind to allow for large scale, realistic testing, including rack-storage fires, for the first time. These full-scale testing capabilities ultimately lead to many new methods to evaluate property loss prevention products, such as storage sprinklers that are still in use today.


First ESFR Sprinkler FM-Approved

The first ESFR (Early‑Suppression Fast Response) Sprinkler is FM Approved. These sprinklers suppress severe storage fires that are beyond the protection capabilities of control mode sprinklers.


First Extra-Large Orifice Sprinkler FM-Approved

The first extra-large orifice sprinkler is FM Approved. These are used when protection of standard sprinklers is desired, but the available system water pressure is too low. The new Hydraulics Laboratory in West Glocester, RI, USA, is constructed.


New Approval Standard     

Approval Standard 4910 for Cleanroom Material is developed and released. As a result, the hazards at semiconductor fabrication facilities are dramatically reduced through the use of FM Approved material.


New Approval Standard

Approval Standard 3011 for Central Station Service for Fire Alarms and Protective Equipment Supervision is developed and released.


Ground Broken for State-of-the-Art FM Global Research Campus

Ground is broken for the new FM Global Research Campus, which opens in 2003. It’s the world’s most sophisticated center for advancing the science and evaluation of property loss prevention products. The campus comprises five distinct laboratories: Electrical Hazards, Fire Technology, Hydraulics, Natural Hazards and Explosion.


FM Approvals Opens Offices in China and the United Kingdom

The FM Approvals offices in Beijing, China and Windsor, UK, signifying the company’s first international offices.

New Approval Standard     

Approval Standard 5560 for Water Mist Systems is developed and released.


FM Approvals Opens Office in Singapore

The FM Approvals office in Singapore opens to service southeast Asia.

New Approval Standard

Approval Standard 2510 for Flood Abatement Products is developed and released, the first comprehensive flood product testing standard in the world.


FM Approvals Opens Office in Shanghai

The FM Approvals office in Shanghai, China opens to service southern China.

FM Approvals Opens Office in Hong Kong

The FM Approvals office in Hong Kong, China opens to service southeast Asia.

New Approval Standards

Approval Standard for Evaluating Insulated Walls or Wall and Roof/Ceiling Assembly, ANSI/FM 4880-2001 is adopted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  Approval Standard 4881 for Class 1 Exterior Wall Systems, the first standard to evaluate wall panels for exposure to wind, is developed and released.


FM Approvals Opens Office in Frankfurt

The FM Approvals office in Frankfurt, Germany opens to service continental Europe.

FM Approvals Opens Office in Yokohama

The FM Approvals office in Yokohama, Japan opens to service Japan.

FM Approvals Opens Office in Bangalore

The FM Approvals office in Bangalore, India opens to service India and the Middle East.


New Approval Standards

Approval Standard 4911 for Front Opening Uniform Pods (FOUPs) is developed and released, the first published FOUP fire test protocol in the world. Approval Standard 4882 for Class 1 Interior Wall and Ceiling Materials or Systems for Smoke Sensitive Occupancies is developed and released. 


FM Approvals Opens Office in Sao Paulo

The FM Approvals office in Sao Paulo, Brazil opens to service South America.

New Natural Hazards Laboratory Opens

FM Approvals opens the 74,000-square-foot laboratory dedicated to approving products exposed to elements such as wind, rain, hail and earthquake.

New Approval Standards

Approval Standard 3232 for Video Image Fire Detectors for Automatic Fire Alarm Signaling and Approval Standard 3616 for Dust Ignition-Proof Electrical Equipment are developed and released. Approval Standard for Evaluating the Simulated Wind Uplift Resistance of Roof Assemblies, ANSI/FM 4474-2004 is adopted by ANSI.


New Approval Standard Adopted by ANSI

Approval Standard for Cleanroom Materials Flammability Test Protocol, ANSI/FM 4910 is adopted by ANSI.


New Approval Standards

Approval Standard for Flood Abatement Equipment, ANSI/FM 2510, is adopted by ANSI as the National Flood Standard. Approval Standard for Radiant Energy-Sensing Fire Detectors for Automatic Fire Alarm Signaling, ANSI/FM 3260-2004 is adopted. Approval Standard for Cleanroom Filters, ANSI/FM 4920 is adopted by ANSI. Approval Standard 1035 for Nitrogen Generators is developed and released.


FM Approvals Office Opens in Paris

The FM Approvals office in Paris, France opens to service continental Europe.

Present Day

Into the Future

FM Approvals continues to test and certify key products related to property loss prevention. Our dedication to innovation over the years has resulted in numerous technical advancements, including low smoke generation wall panels, clean room materials, suppression mode sprinkler protection and water mist systems.