x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Ajman and Sharjah move to ensure safety

Sharjah and Ajman work towards the mandatory installation of protective railings on terraces and balconies follow a recent spate of deaths.

SHARJAH // New building regulations in Sharjah and Ajman aim to make this a safer 2012 for residents of high-rises in the emirates, which witnessed several falling deaths, particularly of children, in the past year.

The Ajman Municipality this week issued a set of safety requirements, while the Sharjah Civil Defence is still studying the measures required to standardise security and safety in buildings.

"Most studies have already found that poor designs of building balconies were responsible for most of the children's falls," said Brig Abdullah Saeed Al Suwaidi, the director general of Sharjah Civil Defence.

Brig Al Suwaidi said his organisation had received an order directly from Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, to review building safety regulations following the spate of falling deaths.

The new specifications will be mandatory for all buildings in the emirate, and building plans that do not meet the specifications will not be approved, Brig Al Suwaidi said.

His department is also considering awareness campaigns, he said. These will mostly target families, especially parents.

For instance, "parents should be taught not to leave their children at home alone or with just maids", he said, as well as not to leave things on balconies that might tempt children outside.

"These awareness campaigns will be undertaken simultaneously with fire-safety campaigns to ensure that homes are safe from all categories of accidents," he said.

Parents need to learn not to store flammable materials in the home; ensure that their fire extinguishers are working and that they know how to use them; and that there are no leaks from their cooking gas cylinders, he said.

In Ajman, the municipality this week issued administrative decision No 92 of 2012 that sets safety requirements for all buildings, including the use of railings on terraces and roofs, and safe heights for windowsills.

"Buildings should have protection railings on balconies and on roofs and the height of a windowsill should not be less than 90 centimetres unless there is a balcony in front of the window," said Ahmed Abdel Raziq Al Awadi, executive director of the municipality's engineering section, outlining measure to prevent falls from buildings.

According to Dr Abdul Karim Al Halimi, the director of the emergency department of Sheikh Khalifa Hospital in Ajman, the hospital saw 15 cases of falls between January and October last year.

The Ajman Municipality's new rules also stipulate that windows should be hinged and close from the top, Mr Al Awadi said.

Kitchen and toilet windows should be partially transparent to ensure illumination in the daytime and protect privacy at night.

All spaces in residential buildings must have openings for ventilation and illumination. The ventilation openings should be at least 5 per cent of the floor area in kitchens, toilets, stores, stairs and corridors, and not less than 10 per cent in other areas.

"Workshops and warehouses must also have illumination and ventilation openings that should not be less than 5 per cent of the floor area," Mr Al Awadi said, adding that doors in workshops and warehouses were considered part of the ventilation and illumination provisions.

ykakande@thenational.ae