Home / ANALYSIS / The UAE is leading the Gulf’s fire safety programmes

The UAE is leading the Gulf’s fire safety programmes

by Neha Bhatia on Feb 24, 2018

Fire safety is a priority for both the public and private sectors in the UAE [representational image].
Fire safety is a priority for both the public and private sectors in the UAE [representational image].

While it has always been of great significance, fire safety has gained further traction in the Gulf region in the past few years.

Both high-profile and minor incidents have, in the past 24 months, compelled the regional construction sector to look inward and enhance existing fire prevention models.

There is no doubt that the UAE is leading this self-improvement exercise in the Gulf. At the crux of the UAE’s effort lies its updated fire and life safety code, which experts have told Construction Week is a comprehensive document that is due to be officially released soon.

Peter van Gorp, director of fire and life safety at UAE-headquartered consultancy, AESG, told Construction Week in October 2017 that a chapter detailing stakeholder responsibilities had been introduced as part of the UAE’s updated Fire and Life Safety Code of Practice.

He added: “There is a clearly defined responsibility [for] the consultant of record, and a clearly defined role for the contractor, as well. However, the consultant of record has to check [these processes], and it will be held liable if […] a building [system] is not installed as per the design standards [or] specifications that were approved by the civil defence [authority].

“There is also a new, dedicated chapter […] on façades and curtain walls, glazing, and roofing systems, [and another] on flammable and combustible liquids.

“There are new requirements stipulated on, for instance, marinas, [and] there is also a chapter on emergency response procedures.”

The new chapters, van Gorp explained, made the fire code “more comprehensive”, as well as capable of being used “for all sorts of applications”.

He continued: “While the 2011 edition was already a major step forward, [it] was more like a technical code, [and] the new UAE fire code is a more comprehensive [document]. Not only does it explain [fire safety requirements] technically, it also [mentions] the steps that need to be taken [to achieve compliance].”

The updated UAE Fire and Life Safety Code may see an official release within the first quarter of 2018, according to the vice president of development for the Middle East at Jensen Hughes.

“The official release should be this year, possibly in March,” Shamim Rashid-Sumar told Construction Week last month.

“The 2017 draft of the fire code has been available for public comment for some time. The process for the fire code revision was very inclusive, and […] involved many community members,” she added.

However, legislation isn’t the UAE’s only commendable effort to boost fire safety. For instance, the UAE’s Ministry of Interior has launched a platform to deliver online fire system application services. Applications to install fire-alarm systems in residences, and to link them with Civil Defence operation rooms, can now be made through the ministry’s website.

Once an application is submitted, the applicant will be contacted by the suppliers of the system for installation, it was announced this January.

The ministry’s smart service upgrade is in line with the directives of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai.

Last month, Sheikh Mohammed also directed the connection of residential units with adequate fire safety systems, with the operation to be free-of-charge for those unable to afford its costs, state news agency, WAM, reported.