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Expert hails role of FM in updated UAE fire code

The document, which emphasises the responsibilities of various stakeholders, is "a step in the right direction", a Cofely Besix FM expert told ConstructionWeekOnline

Cofely Besix Facility Management's QHSE expert has commended the updates made to the UAE's fire and life safety code [representational image].
Cofely Besix Facility Management's QHSE expert has commended the updates made to the UAE's fire and life safety code [representational image].

A regional expert has commended the role of facilities management (FM) in the UAE's updated fire code.

Andre Mars, quality, health, safety, and environment (QHSE) manager at Cofely Besix Facility Management (CBFM), said the updated UAE Fire and Life Safety Code of Practice would improve life safety standards in the country.

READ: Good O&M is incomplete without fire safety

Speaking to ConstructionWeekOnline, Mars said: "The revised UAE fire and life safety code is a step in the right direction, especially when taking into consideration the responsibilities of stakeholders throughout a building’s lifecycle.

"From designers and consultants, to tenants – all parties have a measure of accountability towards fire and life safety."

Mars said responsibilities assigned to FM service providers under the new code are "descriptive, and cover a wide range of maintenance and inspection duties, which in essence, puts FM companies at the forefront of making sure fire and life safety compliance is maintained during the operation of buildings".

He added: "A point worth noting is the requirement for FM service providers to be registered and approved by [civil defence authorities]."

FM companies also "now have to designate Civil Defence-approved fire and life safety managers to the buildings they maintain", Mars said.

"One would assume that Civil Defence will have a process in place for vetting the competencies of FM companies to execute their responsibilities under the revised [fire code]," he continued.

READ: Are the GCC's FM teams doing enough for fire safety?

"Should this be the case, it will have a direct impact on improving and sustaining due diligence towards life safety [...] in the long run."

Mars said that under the new code, FM companies would also "be involved in the commissioning of emergency evacuation plans", and "verifying the authenticity and applicability of such evacuation plans as per site conditions".

"This area will create new opportunities for FM service providers to impart innovative solutions [based on] their on-the-ground experience with emergency evacuations, especially considering the novel – and often complex – designs and layouts of buildings in the UAE."

Mars said the inspection regimes that FM companies would have to maintain were "a positive development, yet challenging".

He explained: "Many FM service providers, who in the past may have opted to transfer the risk by assigning routine inspections to fire specialist contractors, are now compelled to carry out daily routine inspections themselves.

"This will certainly increase awareness and vigilance to mitigate fire and life safety risks."

Additionally, CBFM's manager of QHSE said the revised code "has many positive aspects, and is more descriptive in terms of the responsibilities of stakeholders".

However, Mars said that some of the document’s stipulations may impact existing cost models.

"Extra responsibilities amount to extra work, and extra work amounts to extra costs, which ultimately adds to the total cost of facility ownership, [or] whole building lifecycle-cost.

"Eventually one can expect these costs [...] to be passed onto consumers and end-users."

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Construction Week - Issue 745
Jun 30, 2019