x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Growing Dubai sparks plans for new fire stations

Civil Defence officials have visited thousands of villas and apartments to offer guidance on fire safety.

Firefighters battle this blaze in the Sharjah Industrial Area near Emirates Road.
Firefighters battle this blaze in the Sharjah Industrial Area near Emirates Road.

DUBAI// Two new fire stations a year are expected to be built in a bid to keep pace with the growth of the city.

Speaking on the sidelines of the third annual Middle East Firesafe conference, which began in Dubai yesterday, Colonel Salem Al Mugarrab, of the Civil Defence, said the new stations were needed as the economy improves and spending on infrastructure increases.

"We have already opened a new station in Al Marsa and we are looking to open another one soon," he said.

"We are also looking to open two fire stations mostly every year. This is because of the recovery taking place and the growth of Dubai. Over the past three years we have pretty much upgraded 240 types of equipment, including fire engines, and use a lot of the latest technology."

Dubai has 14 fire stations, mostly near major residential areas and in industrial zones.

The new Al Marsa station will cover "new Dubai", including the densely populated Marina, Media City, Tecom, Palm Jumeirah, JBR and JLT developments.

In the past six months Civil Defence officials have carried out surveys on more than 50,000 villas and apartments providing guidance and advice to residents on how to make their homes safer.

More than 17,500 industrial buildings and companies were also visited and checked by officers.

"We have worked hard to implement the use of improved sprinklers and other systems in thousands of towers and other buildings," said Col Al Mugarrab.

As part of an emirate-wide drive to improve fire safety, officers regularly visit schools to speak with pupils and teachers.

"The key thing for us is that we need to raise social awareness in schools and with the public," said Col Al Mugarrab.

"As a result we have trained 400 students, teachers and staff on fire safety and prevention. This is the most effective way of reducing the risk of fire."

The Dubai Metro has also posed challenges for Civil Defence, with specialist teams of firefighters being trained to deal with emergencies on the railway, both underground and overground.

"They train almost every day. They are on call 24-hours a day and work with the operations side of things with the RTA very closely," said Col Al Mugarrab.

He added that firefighters in Dubai are among the best trained in the world. "We have a lot of training with foreign fire services, including in the UK. That way we can learn and stay on top of the latest technology and techniques."

The three-day Firesafe conference is being held at JW Marriott hotel in Deira with the aim of bringing together international experts to discuss a variety of fire safety topics.

Robert Davies, the associate director for fire safety at engineering consultancy WSP Middle East, told delegates it was vital that countries adopted a single safety code, something few nations have done.

"On average, private property damage due to fire costs the economy less than 0.2 per cent of GDP.

"For the UAE that would be about US$700 million [Dh2.57billion]," said Mr Davies.

He added that having code uniformity would allow companies to build to the same standard, reducing confusion for businesses and also improving safety.