x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

More people die in fewer fires

Last year saw a slight decline in the number of fires in the UAE, but a significant increase in deaths and injuries caused by them, according to government statistics.

ABU DHABIi // Last year saw a slight decline in the number of fires in the UAE, but a significant increase in deaths and injuries caused by them, according to government statistics. Officials attributed the five per cent decline in fires across the nation to better public awareness and inspections. But the Department of Civil Defence declined to comment on why there was a 23 per cent increase in the number of deaths and a 35 per cent rise in injuries. Last year, 58 people were killed and 388 injured by fires. Maj Gen Rashid al Matroushi, the acting director general of the UAE Civil Defence and the director of Dubai Civil Defence, could not comment specifically on the report, but pointed out that one fire could kill a dozen people, while several fires could cause no deaths or injuries. "It is not necessary that when there is a decrease of fires there is a decrease of injuries or vice versa," Gen al Matroushi said. According to statistics issued by the General Directorate of Civil Defence in Abu Dhabi, the number of fires nationwide increased to 2,602 in 2009, from 2,472 in 2008. Because no figures were available for each emirate in 2008, it is unclear which areas had the largest increase. Lt Abdullah al Tamimi, a spokesman for Abu Dhabi Civil Defence, said public awareness was key in reducing the number of fires. He cited official campaigns and inspections for helping educate the public. "We launched a lot of awareness campaigns last year and participated in numerous social activities," Lt al Tamimi said. "The aim was to raise people's awareness about buildings violations that could lead to fires or make the consequences of the fire more severe." Across the UAE, the number of fire accidents that led to deaths increased to 58 last year from 47 in 2008. Last year, there were 388 injuries linked to fires, compared with 287 in 2008. The emirate of Abu Dhabi had the most fires in 2009, with 903 incidences leading to 28 deaths and 149 injuries. In Abu Dhabi city, there were 527 fires, killing 15 and injuring 93. There were 274 fires in Al Ain, which led to eight deaths and 27 injuries. In Al Gharbia, there were 102 fires resulting in five deaths and 29 injuries. Sharjah had the second most fires of any emirate, with 460, causing 16 deaths and 19 injuries. Dubai was third with 448 fires, four deaths and 24 injuries. Seven people died in Ras al Khaimah and three in Umm al Qaiwain. hhassan@thenational.ae hdajani@thenational.ae