SHARJAH // Training workers in fire safety has been highly effective in reducing the number of fires in the emirate this year, according to Sharjah Civil Defence. Between January and yesterday, the department said, there had been 303 fires, down by a third from 450 in the same period last year. The equivalent figure for 2007 was 590.
Col Waheed al Serkal, the head of Sharjah Civil Defence, said that as part of a programme launched this year, the department had trained 300 staff at companies in the Hamriya Free Zone in fire prevention, safety and containment. Worker training had previously been identified as one of the most important elements in trying to reduce the emirate's high number of fires. "We have made it mandatory, starting from this year, for every company working in Sharjah free zones to have at least 10 per cent of their workers equipped with good knowledge of fire safety techniques and handling fire accidents at work."
He added: "Not all companies have complied yet, but as you know this is a new strategy. We expect more to comply with time." He said that the training offered by Civil Defence would be extended to other government institutions and private companies throughout the emirate next year. Col al Serkal added that over the coming months all companies operating in Sharjah would have to sign a contract with at least one fire safety company.
He said there were more than 130 in Sharjah, working in co-operation with the Civil Defence department. A fire in Ajman on Saturday gutted two businesses - an oil lubricant depot and a metal factory next door - in what Civil Defence officials said was the biggest blaze in the emirate this year. The cause is still under investigation. According to statistics collated from Civil Defence departments nationally, Abu Dhabi leads with 328 fires so far this year, followed closely by Sharjah. Dubai has had 278, Al Ain 209, Ajman 132, Ras al Khaimah 123, Fujairah 84 and Umm al Qaiwain 24.
Abu Dhabi recorded 12 fatalities, followed by Al Ain with seven, Sharjah with four, Dubai three and Ras al Khaimah two. Ajman and Umm al Qaiwain have not reported any deaths. Records for fire injuries, described as minor to serious, show 39 in Abu Dhabi, 19 each in Al Ain and Dubai, 11 in Ras al Khaimah, eight in Fujairah, seven in Ajman, five in Sharjah and one in Umm al Qaiwain. firstname.lastname@example.org