Tower fire prompts building materials warning

Municipality issues circular to industry figures after Sharjah inferno

Some materials used in older buildings in the UAE are not fire-retardant
Some materials used in older buildings in the UAE are not fire-retardant

Dubai Municipality has issued a new circular warning contractors and building material suppliers over the use of non-fire resistant building materials.

Circular No 186, which was issued on April 30, comes after a massive fire at the Al Tayer Tower in Sharjah.

Construction experts and residents are blaming the plastic facade tiles used in the building.

“It’s surprising that no one managed to recognise the need for the exterior panels to be fire-retardant,” said Thomas F. Bell-Wright, CEO of Thomas F. Bell-Wright International Consultants, specialists on fire testing, façade consulting and curtain wall testing.

Dubai has an established fire safety regulation in place since 2007 and has been directing building material suppliers and contractors on what materials to use in new structures.

“Although the building code defines what grade of material must be used, the regulations are not clear enough and they need to be more firmly enforced. Everyone’s trying to build quickly and this affects the quality of materials used,” Bell-Wright said.

“The international building code puts responsibility on the developer and codes in the Emirates should follow this,” he added.

Speaking to Emirates 24/7, Marwan Abdallah, Head of the Buildings Inspection Section at the Dubai Municipality, said, “The guidelines are very strictly implemented. Notices are issued to any violators and the issues are rectified.”

According to him, most violations in Dubai are however not related to faulty use of materials, but to timing of the submission of approvals.

About the state of new buildings in Dubai he said: “All of them have strict fire resistant materials in place. However nothing can be done about the old buildings except following strict safety regulations.”

Commenting on the latest fire in Sharjah he said: “We still do not know the exact cause of the building fire except for what is written in the news. A detailed investigation report is yet to be out.”

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