AJMAN // Inspectors say the safety of iftar tents will be a priority in the run-up to Ramadan.
Municipalities and civil defence departments in the Northern Emirates have started to receive applications to erect tents as the holy month approaches.
"The safety of tents is a priority for their licensing," said Lt Faisal Mohammed Al Sheiba, the head of the emergency and inspections department at Ajman Civil Defence.
"All tents need to meet certain criteria on size, number of occupants and number of emergency exits marked clearly in Arabic and English."
The tents must have enough fire extinguishers and staff who know how to use them, Lt Al Sheiba added.
Passages should be left between chairs and tables so the tent can be quickly evacuated.
The owners of tents that fail to meet the standards face fines of up to Dh10,000. The municipality and civil defence will co-ordinate licensing and inspection.
"Once the municipality gets an application for a tent, it forwards it to us for inspections and approval of its fire safety," Lt Al Sheiba said.
Members of the public can make complaints and suggestions about tents on a 24-hour hotline, 80026.
Marwan Al Nuaimi, the director of local affairs at the municipality and planning directorate, said the municipality was to have three of its own iftar tents.
"Last year we had just one tent and the response was huge," Mr Al Nuaimi said. "We have this year decided to make it three to meet the demand.
"One will be in Hamidiya, another near the fish market and the third, for only municipality workers, in the industrial area near the workers' accommodation."
In Sharjah, Hareeb Al Tunaiji, the head of the emirate's inspection committee, warned inspectors would check on all tents and anyone with an unapproved tent would be fined up to Dh1,000.
"We have to be very strict this Ramadan with safety standards," Mr Al Tunaiji said. "The holy month is coming when the hot summer is still on. It's more likely that fires will erupt in tents that don't meet safety requirements."
In Umm al Qaiwain, about 10 tents have so far been approved, said Col Khamis Ibrahim, the deputy director of the UAQ Civil Defence.
"Lamps and bulbs should be fixed at least 40cm away from the tent's fabric, and air conditioners should be at least 1.5 metres away from the tent," Col Ibrahim said.
"Electricians should ensure that an automatic electrical circuit breaker is installed and electrical loads are regularly monitored."
He said tent owners would be prosecuted for mishaps or fires caused by safety lapses.