x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Dh38m firefighting centre opens in Dubai

Diamond-tipped 'strong arm' hose and hi-tech mobile command centre among new equipment unveiled.

Police officers attend the launch of the Dubai Civil Defence Centre in Al Barsha yesterday.
Police officers attend the launch of the Dubai Civil Defence Centre in Al Barsha yesterday.

DUBAI // New firefighting equipment ranging from a diamond-tipped "strong arm" designed to punch through walls, to a hi-tech mobile command centre - were unveiled at the inauguration of the new Dh38 million (US$10.3m) Dubai Civil Defence Centre in Al Barsha yesterday.

The five-floor, steel-clad building, featuring a tower to better see smoke indicating fire has broken out, is staffed with 70 people and will be the model for future fire stations, officials said. Existing stations will be modified to meet its standards. Inside the centre is an arsenal of new equipment, including the steel strong arm. It can break through many materials, including metal, to reach difficult areas and pour up to 6,000 litres of water per minute on flames. It can withstand temperatures of 3,000°C.

"Sometimes it is difficult for firefighters to enter from the windows or from the top if the fire is in a closed place such as a storage room, so the strong arm is used first to cool the place down and to avoid backfiring," explained Maj Gen Rashid al Matroushi, the acting general director of the UAE Civil Defence and the director of Dubai Civil Defence. The arm, which resembles a giant shower head and has a camera that can identify a fire's hot spots, is used in only one other place in the world: Turkey.

Firefighters showed off its capabilities yesterday, spraying water in all directions in a demonstration before Sheikh Mansour Bin Mohammed, the son of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai. The device has been available for use since August 2008 and was last used during a fire in a paint warehouse in Al Quoz. The centre's garage holds a trove of mobile equipment, including firetrucks, an operations centre, a media centre and a "corvette" that can be used to extinguish car fires on highways.

The mobile operations centre is packed with TV screens, computers, wireless phones and faxes. "Everything is automatically connected to the main operations room to follow all operations ... there is weather forecast and satellite TV," Maj Gen al Matroushi said. The meeting room inside the truck is linked to fire pumps, alarms and lifts in all buildings in the emirate - the first of its kind in the world, he said

"If something goes wrong in any building, we know about it before the watchman, so we communicate with the maintenance company and the developer to ensure the error is fixed," he said. Officials also demonstrated a new high-rise fire escape which causes its occupants to spiral as they fall, reducing their descent to a safe speed no matter how high the building. hdajani@thenational.ae