x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Airport gives its staff lift-off on fire safety

Increasing education is the key to preventing future fires.

ABU DHABI //At Abu Dhabi Airport Company it is not enough to train only some of the employees on fire safety.

"We are going the extra mile to not only provide training to employees in order to meet the requirements," said Dr Othman al Khouri, the deputy general manager of the Gulf Centre for Aviation Studies, the company's training arm.

"We are covering every single employee. We introduce people to the many aspects of fire prevention and fire safety, and knowing how to respond in an emergency."

The idea of the annual training course is to increase awareness of fire safety issues, but not just at the airports. "This knowledge is not to be only used on the work premises. We want to ensure that homes are safe too," Dr al Khouri said. "At the end of the day, everyone needs to know this."

Fire safety experts and officials said this week that the key to safeguarding homes and reducing the number of fires is increasing education. "There seems to be more exposure of fire safety issues, and I think health and safety overall is improving, but I think it would be a very good idea to do a survey, make recommendations and follow up to see whether the awareness level has been raised," said Norm Labbe, the managing director of the Emirates Institute for Health and Safety (EIHS).

"Education is always No 1," Mr Labbe said. "Follow-up by authorities is essential to ensure your message is getting through."

The Abu Dhabi Education Council has increased its fire safety trainings for students, and government agencies and corporations work with EIHS to provide workshops for workers.

Family-specific "safety day" events and activities for children also help spread the message, Mr Labbe said.

"Agencies and companies need to take a proactive approach to integrating fire safety in the non-workplace community," he said. "We want to transfer knowledge into homes, and we're always pleasantly surprised to see how much knowledge children can pass on to their families."

jthomas@thenational.ae