Collaboration is key to ensuring future buildings are fire-proof

Working together to design and build structures with fire-retardant cladding can make our cities safer amid urban change

Oscar Rousseau is deputy editor of CW.
Oscar Rousseau is deputy editor of CW.

Combustion is a powerful and deadly process that can spell disaster for people, property, businesses, and communities. The Middle East has seen several structural fires in recent years, and high-profile blazes in France and the UK – at the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral and Grenfell Tower, respectively – serve as stark reminders that buildings everywhere are potentially vulnerable to the devastating effects of fire.

Worldwide, significant efforts are being made not only to prevent building fires from starting, but also to find ways to stop them from spreading. In November 2018, more than 40 organisations from around the world came together to appoint fire safety experts to develop what the UK-headquartered Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors called “landmark industry standards to address fire safety in buildings in the public interest”. This demonstrated the importance of collaboration when it comes to fire safety.

Our Knowledge Partner in this special report, National Aluminium Ginco, is another organisation seeking collective action on fire safety. Syed Nasir, health and safety manager at the National Aluminium & Steel Factory in Ajman – where the firm manufactures fire-resistant cladding – wants façade sub-contractors to work closely with fire consultants.

He says fire consultants and companies such as National Aluminium Ginco must stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” to ensure façade designs are as safe as they can be, and that they comply with the Dubai Civil Defence code. Improved collaboration on building designs will help to ensure the most suitable materials are used on future projects, Nasir adds.

Another company that recognises the value of collaboration is Pearl Covestro, a Dubai-based joint venture of the UAE’s Pearl Insulation Materials and German polymer manufacturer Covestro. In this special report, the company talks about the use of a thermoplastic insulation called polyisocyanurate (PIR) in high-rise buildings. The company notes that its PIR panels are compliant with the UAE’s updated Fire & Life Safety Code, which came into force in 2018.

National Aluminium Ginco and Pearl Covestro both underscore the importance of collaboration and, during my tenure as deputy editor of Construction Week, I have come to understand that this is the key element in our industry's continuing success.

The megaprojects that make the Gulf's construction market arguably the most dynamic in the world are only possible because of the close cooperation demonstrated by stakeholders at all stages of the process. As I prepare to take over as the editor of CW's sister title Commercial Interior Design, the lesson I will take with me is that when it comes to building the region's future, teamwork truly does make the improbable possible.

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Construction Week - Issue 765
Jun 29, 2020