UAE 2016 fire codes to emphasise consultants' role

The UAE's updated fire codes will replace schematic drawings with 3D designs, and place increased emphasis on the role of consultants in the construction process, according to senior officials

Updated UAE fire codes should be finalised by March 2016 [Representational image].
Updated UAE fire codes should be finalised by March 2016 [Representational image].

Dubai Civil Defense’s updated fire codes will place increased emphasis on the role of building owners and consultants, a senior official has revealed.

Pramod Challa, chief of engineering at Dubai Civil Defence, said that authorities are working to release the codes by the end of March 2016, and should be able to achieve that deadline.

UAE Fire and Life Safety Codes of Practice 2016 will be the second edition of the standards and regulations, which were first launched in 2011 in a bid to improve fire safety in the country.

Challa said these codes were launched by incorporating the best international fire standards, such as NFPA, BS, and Singaporean codes. The fast pace of construction in the country has necessitated an update in the UAE’s fire codes, Challa added.

“The 2016 code features more tables and figures for better understanding,” he explained.

Drawings in the UAE 2011 code are schematic, whereas those in the 2016 are 3D drawings, so as to make them easier to understand, interesting, and appealing to users. These 3D drawings also incorporate measurements and specifications for parts used in the construction of a structure.

Whilst standards regulating cladding, fire stopping, and balconies and terraces were added as annexes to the 2011 code, the 2016 update includes regulations for each as part of the main code.

The 2016 code also increases the accountability of consultants and owners involved in a building’s development.

Lt Col Jamal Ahmad Ibrahim, director of Dubai Civil Defense’s preventive safety department, said: "Dousing the massive fire [which] broke out in Address Downtown Hotel [highlighted] the importance of integration between Civil Defence and other supportive operations, such as planning, training, administrative, and technical works."

Challa and Lt Col Ibrahim said that under the new UAE codes, consultants will be responsible for the overall operations and lifecycle of a building, such as acquiring the design no objection certificate (NOC) from civil defence bodies, contractor qualification, inspection during construction, and testing and commissioning works. 

These measures are aimed at improving the overall quality of consultancy and construction services in the country, Lt Col Ibrahim said, adding he is confident the UAE's industry is capable of meeting these standards. 

"We live in one of the best and safest countries in the world," he emphasised. 

Earlier this month, it was revealed a federal study would be carried out to assess the risk factor of existing buildings across the UAE. At the time, Lt Col Ibrahim said the survey would oblige some building owners to invest in fireproofing their properties, but that the DCD would seek to propose the most cost-effective solutions.

He continued: “We are doing a survey now for all buildings in the UAE – not just in Dubai – and will [compile] a report.

"If any building [poses] some issue, we will put forward a solution.

"Of course, different buildings require different solutions; one solution will not suit all," Lt Col Ibrahim concluded.



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