x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Fire-fighting boats set for Abu Dhabi marinas

The vessels could be introduced in the capital following a blaze which spread from one boat to destroy a million-dirham yacht.

The yacht Riva burns in front of Marina Mall.
The yacht Riva burns in front of Marina Mall.

ABU DHABI // Fire-fighting boats could be introduced at Abu Dhabi's marinas following a blaze which spread from one boat to destroy a milion-dirham yacht. An electrical fault is believed to be the cause of a fire on the Italian Riva two weeks ago. Flames spread from the boat, moored at Marina Mall, to destroy a vessel berthed behind it. The fire burned uncontrolled for more than 20 minutes before Civil Defence arrived to extinguish the flames. Now Major Gen Rashid al Matroushi, the director general of the UAE Civil Defence, said fire-fighting boats should be introduced at the capital's marinas to help prevent a repeat of the accident. The boats, equipped with pumps and hoses, can be on the scene of a fire much quicker than traditional vehicles. And they can pull berthed boats and yachts away from the marina to prevent the flames from spreading. Mr al Matroushi said: "I will ask Abu Dhabi Civil Defence officials to pay visits to the marinas and ask them to add fire-fighting boats in order to minimise [the number] of such fires." He said marinas were required to have fire-fighting equipment for Civil Defence use, but marina operators were not obligated to use it in the event of a fire. However, there are no penalties for marinas which fail to supply equipment, such as hoses and water pumps. Salah Suliman, a security officer at Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club which runs that marina at Marina Mall, said staff attempted to control the recent fire before civil defence arrived. "We have fire extinguishers and fire-fighting equipment at the old jetty, which is on the other side of the marina, but we haven't moved them yet to the new jetty, where the fire was." Sheeshas and barbecues are not allowed on boats, but security officers are not allowed inside the vessels to check if anyone is violating the rules. "Sometimes the owners take out the sheesha, so if we see it we tell them it is not allowed," he said. Ahmad al Kubaisi, the owner of the yacht that caused the fire, said the damage could have been minimized with quicker intervention. He said: "Thank God it was on a Saturday morning and there was no traffic, so the civil defence arrived before the fire damaged even more boats." His 50ft yacht had undergone major renovated after he bought it a year and a half ago. He said it cost him a total of around Dh1m, and he had no insurance. "If I buy a new one I will park it at the end of the deck, so if it burns it doesn't affect anyone else," he said. "The captain, who was on board, smelled smoke so he turned off the electricity and went to check on the wires, he didn't find anything, so he went to inform the marina administration of the smoke, and while he was gone the fire erupted. Fahad Taher, the owner of the second boat that was destroyed, said all marinas in Abu Dhabi lack fire safety equipment. "If you go to other countries, you'll see the fire safety measures they have. We should have one of those fire-fighting boats here," he said. "Technically, the yacht is at fault because that's where the fire started, but in reality I blame the lack of fire safety measures at the marina, everybody escaped from the scene. "They should pull out the burning yacht so the fire doesn't affect the rest, imagine if six or seven boats were affected," he said. Mr Taher said: "I have a lot of memories on that boat - I used to take it out almost everyday." He said he has another yacht in Mussafah which he will move to Marina Mall marina in the near future. "There is no point of putting it in any other marina, because they are all the same in Abu Dhabi. And I'm a jet ski-racer at Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club, so it is better to have it close to me." According to yacht owners and security officers questioned by The National, the fire two weeks ago was the fire of its kind at the marina. hdajani@thenational.ae