UAE to unveil new fire safety code on January 22
Dubai: Dubai Civil Defence will unveil a long-awaited major update to the UAE’s Fire Safety and Life Protection codes at Intersec 2017, it was announced on Tuesday.
“We plan to launch a new code for fire safety and the protection of life,” said Lieutenant Colonel Ali Al Mutawa, Assistant General Manager for Smart Services at Dubai Civil Defence.
The code was developed in conjunction with public and private sector stakeholders, in order to achieve the best results possible.
There will be new regulations, in line with the changing dynamics of the country, that deal with fire alert and alarm systems in houses, and tourist facilities, said Lt Col Al Mutawa hinting that the Dubai Marina area would have a separate code.
Speaking to Gulf News, Lt Col Al Mutawa spoke of enforcing stricter rules around the use of cladding, thought to be partly to blame for a number of fires across the emirates, including The Torch tower in Dubai Marina. Cladding refers to the panels used to cover the exterior of most modern buildings.
Lt Col Al Mutawa said: “we are looking particular types of panels,” adding that Dubai Civil Defence was “working alongside a number of well-known international consultants who specialise in fire-resistant materials.”
He ruled out retrofitting of older buildings with safer materials.
In terms of new requirements, the code will cover storage of flammable liquids and use of renewable energy.
While the previous Fire Safety and Life Protection code contained 707 pages, the new code will contain 1,562 pages, said Lt Col Al Mutawa, who also declared that the new code would feature 20 chapters, and 784 illustrations, an increase of 488 drawings on the code’s last iteration.
The illustrations are designed to help engineers comply with regulation and plan safe buildings.
Lt Col Al Mutawa said the Dubai Civil Defence added new chapters and updated existing chapters of the guide in order to cope with the rapid development in various economic sectors in the country.
“Due to increased construction and infrastructure activity in the UAE, we want to keep up to international safety standards, and we constantly strive to evolve and be better than yesterday,” he said.
“Chapters that have been updated include those relating to fire doors; cladding in buildings; access for Civil Defence trucks to reduce incident response times; and educating consultants, contractors and end-users on the latest modifications.”
The new code was due to be released at the beginning of 2016, but was delayed after the fire at The Address Downtown Dubai, a luxury hotel and residential tower.
The incident on New Year’s Eve delayed the new code by presenting additional questions to regulators about how to secure high-rise buildings, according to market sources.
According to experts, roughly 270 construction projects are currently delayed because they do not meet Civil Defence requirements for safety.
Intersec 2017, the world’s largest trade show for security, safety, and fire protection, will run from January 22-24 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The full code, including changes and developments, will be unveiled on the first day of the show by Major General Rashid Thani Al Matroushi, Director-General of Dubai Civil Defence.
Floating firefighting centres planned
Lieutenant Colonel Ali Al Mutawa, Assistant General Manager for Smart Services at Dubai Civil Defence, said the department is planning to build “floating firefighting centres along Dubai Canal,” that will offer “ease of access to densely populated areas that the canal covers.”
He added that these floating fire stations would be like “small rigs or platforms that support the firefighting teams, and also to work as a kind of logistics centre providing water to firefighting efforts in the area.”
Al Mutawa said that utilising the canal for firefighting would be useful and necessary given its proximity to the sea and many high-rise buildings.
Dubai Civil Defence has worked closely with the private sector to develop the initiative, partnering with the developers of the canal to identify specific risks and opportunities that the development poses to its firefighting teams. “We are in constant contact with the developers,” Al Mutawa said.
Towards the end of the press conference, the Assistant General Manager announced that Dubai Civil Defence would be unveiling something he called the “Dolphin initiative,” declining to give further details when questioned on the initiative by Gulf News.