Good O&M is incomplete without fire safety

Fire detection is a crucial FM component

Neha Bhatia is the deputy editor of facilities management Middle East.
Neha Bhatia is the deputy editor of facilities management Middle East.

December 2016 brought news of a fire at a residential tower in Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah area. According to report by Gulf News, the blaze broke out in one of the buildings that is part of the Oceana complex. The emirate’s news agency, Dubai Media Office, also reported the incident in a tweet at 11.40pm on the night that Dubai Civil Defence crews were on site to put out the blaze.

At the time, the agency also said that no injuries had been reported from the incident, and evacuation works had been successfully completed. In a follow-up tweet, Dubai Media Office confirmed that the fire had been “completely extinguished”, and no injuries had been reported.

While it is fortunate that the incident passed without injuries, it is key to note that this might have been harder to achieve without appropriate fire detection devices.

Look no further than Qatar to understand how fire detection technology ties into FM functions such as MEP management and egress planning. In May 2015, the families of the victims of Qatar’s 2012 Villaggio Mall fire filed lawsuits against the mall’s architects, developers, and consultants, besides other companies based in the USA and Qatar, according to Doha News.

The lawsuits stated: “The fans that were intended to remove smoke in the event of a fire instead forced smoke back into the mall. The fire alarms selected by the designers were inaudible or sounded like a faint doorbell. The smoke vents did not function properly, if at all. The sprinkler system failed.”

The fire caused the deaths of 19 people by smoke asphyxiation – including the children that were trapped in a day-care outlet at the time – four nursery staff, and two firefighters that tried to rescue them. It is worth wondering whether the right choice of smoke alarm or sprinkler system might have mitigated – or even averted – the crisis.

fmME’s Special Report on Fire Detection and Prevention has been produced to review these themes and explore how 2017 can be a fire-proof year in the GCC.

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