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Leaders UAE 2017: Understanding the Emirates’ updated fire code

AESG’s fire design expert unveiled details of the highly anticipated UAE Fire & Life Safety Code 2017 and its ramifications for local construction stakeholders

Peter Van Gorp (above) is director of fire and life safety at AESG.
Peter Van Gorp (above) is director of fire and life safety at AESG.

AESG’s fire design expert unveiled details of the highly anticipated UAE Fire & Life Safety Code 2017 and its ramifications for local construction stakeholders...

Peter Van Gorp, director of fire and life safety at UAE-headquartered construction consultancy, AESG, delivered key updates about the country’s highly anticipated new fire code, at Construction Week: Leaders in Construction UAE Summit 2017.

Van Gorp kicked off his presentation by briefly outlining the history of fire regulation in the UAE. Before 2010, the AESG expert explained, no official document existed to regulate fire safety in buildings, with NFPA and IBC guidelines being the predominant drivers behind fire safety design.

In 2011, the first iteration of the UAE Fire & Life Safety Code was launched, and Van Gorp said the document was influenced by NFPA fire safety standards. Initially adopted in Dubai, the code eventually went on to be accepted across the UAE. The 738-page document contained numerous illustrations to better explain fire safety design requirements, Van Gorp added. 

In contrast, the UAE Fire & Life Safety Code 2017 is a 1,426-page document, and includes even more illustrations and drawings than its predecessor. Van Gorp said the new code contains 20 chapters, each of which provides detailed explanations of various elements pertaining to fire safety design – such as means of egress, utility occupancies, and flammable liquids.  

Van Gorp also provided insights into Chapter 18 of the UAE Fire & Life Safety Code 2017, titled ‘Responsibilities of Stakeholders’. This section outlines the different aspects of fire and life safety design that various project parties – such as developers, building owners, consultants, contractors, and materials-related teams – will be responsible for under the remit of the new code.  

Chapter 18 emphasises the role of project consultants, Van Gorp said. For instance, at the commissioning stage, consultants must ensure that all fire and life safety systems are functioning as intended. 

Contractors may no longer submit shop drawing approvals for fire and life safety systems, cladding, or fire doors. 

Additionally, contractors must “insist on execution of work” only after receiving civil defence-approved drawings from the consultant, which, according to the new code, “is solely responsible and authorised to apply” for civil defence project approvals, Van Gorp added.  

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Construction Week - Issue 733
Mar 14, 2019