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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Addressing poor fire-safety awareness 

Conforming to fire-safety codes and readiness help save lives

Fires are often caused by faulty electrics, shoddy maintenance or by fires that were deliberately lit to burn rubbish. Silvia Razgova / The National
Fires are often caused by faulty electrics, shoddy maintenance or by fires that were deliberately lit to burn rubbish. Silvia Razgova / The National

The heat of the summer is upon us and a series of fires have been reported around the country, bringing the debate on fire safety and poor safety awareness back to the fore.

Some of these blazes flared up in industrial areas, particularly in warehouses and factories. Often times, these incidents were caused by faulty electrics, shoddy maintenance or by fires that were deliberately lit to burn rubbish, as The National reported. As one official said, “negligence is a major cause of fires.” Fire-safety codes and standards are in place, but it is obvious that they are often ignored.

New residential towers and buildings have to conform to stringent fire-safety standards. In such developments, all apartments are equipped with fire extinguishers, fire blankets and smoke detectors. Drills are periodically carried out to make sure residents are aware of evacuation protocols. However, this may not be the case for older buildings, where some landlords fail to ensure fire-safety measures are up-to-date. Linking annual safety inspections to tenancy contracts could be an option for the authorities to consider. It would definitely harness greater compliance from landlords.

But more than that, the onus must be on the community to prevent tragedy. Everyone should ensure smoke detectors are installed and operational in their homes, and fire blankets and extinguishers are within reach in kitchens. For those whose landlords have not installed smoke detectors, installing one is a small price to pay for peace of mind and to prevent avoidable tragedy.