Demand for the latest fire-related tech is rising

As fire codes become more stringent across the Gulf, technology providers are registering an increase in demand for products that can improve the safety of built environments

Rizwan Sajan, Danube Group.
Rizwan Sajan, Danube Group.

With fire safety a hot topic in the GCC region, and activity in construction expected to pick up as mega-events like Expo 2020 Dubai and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar draw nearer, the Gulf has been witness to a recent tightening of fire codes and regulations.

The construction market’s need for non-combustible solutions has grown as a result, according to Rizwan Sajan, founder and chairman of Danube Group, who says that sales of the fire-rated (FR) aluminium composite materials of Danube Group subsidiary, Alucopanel Middle East, have increased.

He attributes the popularity of the Alucopanel FR-A2 aluminium composite material (closed-joint) system to its use of an FR backer rod, instead of the conventional plastic backer rod. Sajan explains: “Many firms tend to replace the plastic backer with metal U-channels, which is quite impractical and labour-intensive. The flexible, non-combustible FR backer rod can be used in all types of façade claddings.”

Due to the growing demand for the company’s products, Danube Group’s Alucopanel has a team dedicated to researching and developing new fire-retardant systems that meet the changing needs of the Middle East market.

The evolving requirements in the Gulf are also driving developments at Honeywell. The company is focussed on developing differentiated technologies that can meet fire safety challenges.

Tony Nasr, general manager of Honeywell Security and Fire for the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa (META) region, says: “Whether it’s a home, a small shop, a large airport, or an oil and gas facility, Honeywell has the right solution.”

He adds: “WINMAG, our physical security information management (PSIM) solution, helps building operators monitor and control their facilities from a single pane of glass, as it can seamlessly integrate CCTV, access control, intrusion, building management system, and fire systems. Furthermore, we recently announced key enhancements to our video surveillance portfolio, which produces top-quality imagery in the most challenging of conditions.

“The new equIP and HDZ cameras, and MAXPRO network video recorders, work with Honeywell and third-party open network video interface forum (ONVIF) products for a complete internet protocol solution that enhances safety.”

Honeywell, says Nasr, has also acquired Xtralis, a provider of aspirating smoke detection systems. The acquisition has strengthened the company’s fire and security product line-up, he adds.

“The GCC is an important region for Honeywell,” Nasr continues. “We have strong sales across the region, with high expectation of continued growth in Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Bahrain.”

While Pro9 can’t yet make a similar claim about its performance in this region, the Australia-headquartered company is hoping that it won’t be long before it makes its presence felt in the Middle East, with its fire-resistant prefabricated wall panels.

Daniel Jukic, managing director of Pro9, points out that although the panels have only been on the market for five months, they are already being used by six of the largest developers in Australia. “We’ve got 10 projects, and six of them are pilot projects for the largest builders in Australia. These include projects by Plunkett Homes, Impact Homes, ABN Group, and Key Group in Canberra.”

Jukic clarifies that the product, which consists of a polyurethane core and magnesium-oxide outer coating, is not suitable for high-rise structures. But he is quick to point out that it is receiving positive feedback from the residential markets in countries like Australia, New Zealand, Bosnia, Croatia, and Germany.

“This is the only panel in the world that doesn’t catch fire, and is thermal insulated and sound absorbing,” Jukic claims. He adds that his team is not only targeting several developers in the UAE, but also planning to set up shop here.

“We would like, eventually, to have a production facility in the UAE. That’s a near-term goal,” he says, concluding: “You can’t avoid regional manufacturing. When the demand for a product increases, you have to manufacture
it nearby.”

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