Fire prevention benefits safety and boosts profits

The push to improve fire prevention and protection practices within the Middle East’s built environment is not only improving safety; it is also providing a host of commercial opportunities

COMMENT, Projects

With its record-breaking skyscrapers and vast horizontal developments, the GCC is home to some of the most famous buildings on the planet. For the most part, this global renown has benefitted the region significantly, helping it to attract residents, tourists, and multinational businesses alike. On occasion, however, the Gulf’s place in the limelight has proved to be somewhat of a double-edged sword. For example, when high-profile GCC buildings are hit by fire, the international media never fails to take notice.

In truth, this is no bad thing. While it could be argued that fires in the Gulf’s built environment receive a disproportionate amount of attention, this high level of scrutiny – coupled with a genuine desire to improve safety – is motivating regional policy-makers to continuously improve fire prevention and protection practices.

In this regard, Dubai is leading the way. While the emirate has been home to several high-profile fires during recent years, including a headline-grabbing blaze at The Address Downtown Dubai on New Year’s Eve, 2015, it is encouraging to note that evacuation procedures have proved effective. Nevertheless, public bodies, such as Dubai Municipality (DM) and Dubai Civil Defence (DCD), are demonstrating an ongoing commitment to preventing blazes from occurring in the first place.

The updated UAE Fire and Life Safety Code, which was launched by DCD in January 2017, is a prime example of this regulatory push. Building on its 2011 predecessor, the document has been drafted in accordance with international best practice, and in line with feedback from contractors, consultants, and real estate developers.

In addition to tightening regulations around fire prevention and protection in Dubai’s built environment, the latest code is creating commercial opportunities for the private sector, as detailed in the following Special Report.

In this week’s market overview (page 20), Firetrace, Bristol Fire Engineering, and Apollo Fire Detectors explain why they are anticipating a consolidation of fire prevention regulations in the GCC, and a subsequent uptick in business.

As well as creating potentially lucrative commercial opportunities for suppliers, such legislative efforts are also acting as a catalyst for innovation and adoption. In the Special Report’s technology focus (page 24), Danube, Honeywell, and Pro9 tell Construction Week that the evolving regulatory environment is motivating developers, contractors, and consultants to look towards the latest tools and systems in order to future-proof their projects.

In a similar vein, Dubai-based cable manufacturer, Ducab, has gone to great lengths to ensure that its product portfolio is appropriately certified and sufficiently robust to cater to even the most demanding standards (page 26).

But taking centre stage is this week’s Knowledge Partner, MVL Firestop (page 24), which has spent recent years developing a comprehensive suite of region-specific fire-stopping technologies. Although the firm concedes that Dubai’s approvals process is stricter than most, it also points out that the emirate’s supplier-centric certification model has resulted in a propitious environment for companies that can stay the course.

If our experts are right, and other GCC markets follow Dubai’s lead, there is little doubt that regional fire prevention and protection practices will continue to improve – alongside suppliers’ profit margins.

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Construction Week - Issue 765
Jun 29, 2020