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GCC's private-sector firms are supporting fire safety regulation

Legislation will go a long way towards improving fire-safety standards in the Middle East, but regional suppliers’ efforts prove that these initiatives are not the preserve of the public sector

COMMENT, Projects, Fire safety regulations, Gcc, Private-sector

This February saw the completion of another successful fire containment operation in the Middle East. A minor fire that broke out in Dubai on 16 February was brought under control, with no injuries reported.

According to the director-general for fire and rescue at Dubai Civil Defence, Rashid Khalifa Buflasa, the fire was “instantly controlled”.

Social media users are said to have praised authorities’ speedy response to the incident, calling it “very fast and efficient”, according to a report by Arabian Business. However, this efficiency is hardly unexpected, as fire safety is one of the top priorities for construction-sector leaders Dubai’s and the UAE.

The past few years have seen increased industry discourse about fire and life safety, not only in the UAE, but throughout the Gulf region. Government organisations and private-sector companies alike are driving forth a revamp of how fire safety is prioritised in the regional construction sector, and how the existing processes and systems can be improved.

Take as an example Dubai Civil Defence, which has launched advanced tech tools such as fire-fighting jet skis and a factory that will develop fire-fighting nanotechnology – all within the last two years. These investments are bound to enhance the emirate’s fire response portfolio, as well as improve the quality of long-term fire and life safety in the city.

Similar fire prevention intiatives have been launched across the UAE, as our Market Overview section this week reveals (p24). Construction Week’s Special Report on Fire Prevention and Protection also reviews the private sector’s contribution to this high-priority construction segment.

For example, senior technical development manager at Saint-Gobain Gyproc Middle East, Jason Hird, says his company is “pushing forward like never before” to ensure the Gulf is equipped to boost fire safety standards (p28).

He adds: “The UAE is, of course, a key market for us. However, with major projects in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Oman, we have had to increase our headcount, to keep up with the demand for guidance and support for our fire-rated systems.”

The UAE’s updated fire and life safety code is expected to support the country’s initiatives to increase prevention and protection. Due to its comprehensive and localised components, it may also inspire the development of similar mandates both regionally and globally.

Karim Elshafie, general manager of MVL Firestop – the Knowledge Partner for this Special Report – says 2018 will be a safer year in light of the UAE’s updated fire code (p26).

He tells Construction Week: “The effort that went into the code was quite impressive. [Civil defence authorities] didn’t leave a corner unprotected. They mixed and matched fire-stopping standards from around the world.”

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Construction Week - Issue 767
Sep 01, 2020