x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Fire safety equipment needs to be tested often

A UAE fire official says that all buildings across the Emirates must have fire-safety equipment that is properly installed and well-maintained.

The head of UAE Civil Defence says owners of residential buildings must, by law, have reputed maintenance companies to test and maintain fire alarms and tools regularly.

"Knowing the sources of fire hazards is the main factor in preventing fire," said Maj Gen Rashid Al Matrooshi, director general of UAE Civil Defence.

Large blazes were caused by broken fire alarms or defective anti-fire systems, bad electrical equipment or wiring, he said.

Last year, the federal authority launched a six-month campaign to raise awareness of fire and other hazards among families across the Emirates. In the initiative, which ended in November, 582 officers and volunteers visited more than 200,000 homes. They educated families on how to prevent fires and protect themselves.

Gen Al Matrooshi said because of the campaign, there was a 38 per cent decrease in home fires in that period last year, compared with the same time period in 2010. More than 2,800 fires were reported in the Emirates last year.

Fire-safety companies are required to perform regular maintenance on devices including fire alarms, extinguishers and sprinklers, according to the contracts they signed with the building management committee.

If inspectors find a lapse in the maintenance, they can issue fines.

Dubai has a 24-hour control system, which monitors 40 per cent of the fire alarms in residential high-rise towers in the emirate.

The system, which has been operating in Dubai for four years, continuously monitors alarms for defects. If any are found, a message is transmitted to Dubai Civil Defence headquarters and a team is immediately sent to repair it.

Gen Al Matrooshi last month said plans were under way to introduce a similar system across the UAE.

pkannan@thenational.ae

* with additional reporting by Yasin Kakande