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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Interactive films help inspectors check fire safety in UAE buildings

Pilot project in Abu Dhabi could be rolled out to other new buildings planned elsewhere in the UAE

Workers watch emergency crews respond to a fire at a building under construction next to the Beach Rotana Hotel in the Tourist Club area of Abu Dhabi in 2016. Christopher Pike / The National
Workers watch emergency crews respond to a fire at a building under construction next to the Beach Rotana Hotel in the Tourist Club area of Abu Dhabi in 2016. Christopher Pike / The National

A pilot programme of new fire safety inspection developed over five years in Abu Dhabi will be extended to cover new buildings across the country.

Fire safety experts have been filming the construction process of new buildings to help identify correct procedures and where weak spots should be addressed.

An interactive 3-D fire safety training film has been made by Abu Dhabi Civil Defence, helping simplify new UAE fire codes.

Recordings were made during the construction of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, helping document the development as a blueprint for similar projects in future.

If approved, the idea could be used in new buildings planned for Sharjah and Dubai to help speed up the inspection process for fire safety regulators.

“We started work on this project five years ago, during summer when there is heavy demand on inspections due to shorter working hours,” said Bassem Khalil, senior fire safety engineer at Abu Dhabi Civil Defence.

“The Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi project was due to hand over, and is one of very few high rise hospitals in the world.

“We had a meeting with contractors and consultants to look at our capabilities for inspections and found it could take up to eight months.

“The idea was to bring the inspection to us to speed up the process. Later we did the same thing with the Adnoc building and the Louvre.

“All of the emirates will have the ability to apply for this kind of project for their new buildings.”

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A series of films documenting construction were made, and showed in private screenings to help train other inspectors in what is required to adhere to fire safety regulations.

The Civil Defence in Abu Dhabi is hoping to soon present the safety code in an interactive online application, rather than hundreds of pages of documents to further improve understanding of recent changes.

Improvements to existing standards have been drafted in following a series of high profile fires in UAE buildings and elsewhere.

New buildings planned for the UAE must now be fitted with non-combustible cladding to reduce the spread of flames if a fire breaks out.

The updated UAE Fire and Life Safety Code of Practice has been broken down for global and local manufacturers, distributors, engineers and architects involved in the latest buildings planned.

“Normal processes of inspection can take a long time,” said Mr Khalil.

“For the time being, this is an in-house system for us to watch these films in regards fire safety.

“We have to be careful not to expose any sensitive information, so will have to maintain control over the contents for now.

“The animation makes this area of fire safety much clearer, particularly in a teaching environment.

“My intention with this project is to transfer knowledge, improve training and quality and leave a legacy of fire safety in the construction phase of new buildings.”

Speakers at a Dubai conference on implementing and enforcing fire codes and use of globally accepted standards said regulations would be continuously reviewed.

“The federal fire code has been driven by all UAE Civil Defence Authorities with a lot of input from Civil Defence in Dubai,” said Adrian Brown, fire service advisor at the Civil Defence.

“It is important for building users and manufacturers to work together to help put together that guide so that it is effective and representative.”