x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Dubai drive to avert tent fires

Ramadan tents are being issued with free fire extinguishers and operators are being reminded they have to comply with strict safety rules.

DUBAI // Ramadan tents are being issued with free fire extinguishers and operators are being reminded they have to comply with strict safety rules. The My Tent is Safe campaign, organised by the Civil Defence, is aimed at preventing tragedies such as the recent wedding tent fire in Kuwait that killed 47 people. The Civil Defence estimates that there are about 70 Ramadan tents operating in the city this year. Most have been set up at hotels and private homes, while others have been organised by charities in various locales.

They all need to pass inspection and be licensed, said the director general of Civil Defence, Major Gen Rashid Thani al Matroushi. He added that since tents were integral to celebrations, particularly during Ramadan, it was important that people were aware of their risks. "Users should make sure the tents are safe and compliant with public safety and preventive measures," he said. The department also plans to hold safety presentations to show operators how to use the fire extinguishers and evacuate people from the tents in case of an emergency.

All hotels operating Ramadan tents will be required to assign someone to them who is qualified to use a fire extinguisher and in evacuation techniques. Although more than a week of Ramadan has passed, tent vendors said they were already aware of the requirements and welcomed any efforts to protect people. Azhar Subzwari, the sales manager for Al Mumtaz Tent and Canopies Co, said the tent checks were being performed by the municipality, the Civil Defence and the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

"Every time we set up a new one, they have to come to check it," he said. Among the things that inspectors look for are that a tent's air-conditioning units are placed on the outside of the structure and do not touch the fabric; that lights are at least 40cm away from the fabric; that all electrical wires are inside plastic ducting; that fabric and furniture in the tents are made of fire-retardant materials; that a space of at least four metres is left between tents.

Paths between table rows should also be wide enough to allow users "to run with ease and speed in case of emergency", and exits must be clearly marked in Arabic and English. loatway@thenational.ae hhassan@thenational.ae