'My message to people is to take more care,' says Abdulaziz Zurub, director of health and safety at Abu Dhabi Municipality.
Residents must play their part to keep fires at bay, say UAE experts
ABU DHABI // Safety experts say residents need to take their own action to prevent and prepare for fires.
Abdulaziz Zurub, director of health and safety at Abu Dhabi Municipality, said most fires were caused by faults with electrical equipment such as air conditioning and televisions, ovens being left on, and unattended cigarettes and candles.
“My message to people is to take more care and to maintain electrical equipment and to switch off electrical equipment when you are not at home,” Mr Zurub said.
Barry Bell, managing director of Wagner Fire Safety Management Consultants, said: “People have to want a safe environment, rather than being complacent and ignoring it until something nasty happens.
“You might have buildings where power sockets are not adequate in the rooms that they live in, and they will buy extension leads so they can plug in multiple devices or electrical equipment into a single socket.
“In some of the older buildings these electrical circuits can easily be overloaded, which can very easily result in a fire.”
Those living in apartment blocks should take extra care to learn about the alarm system and evacuation procedures, Mr Bell said.
“Sometimes these fires take place in the middle of the night. People don’t realise it until it’s too late,” he said.
Those in older blocks should ask their building managers if the fire systems are working.
“It’s possible that for some reason the fire-alarm system is not working properly, maybe it’s under maintenance, we don’t know,” Mr Bell said. “In older buildings that’s quite possible.”
He said that if the alarm was not working, residents should alert the owners or managers of the building first. And if they haven’t taken part in a fire drill, they should ask for one.
If they do not receive a satisfactory response they should report the matter to Civil Defence,” Mr Bell said.
“Residents have a huge part to play in the overall safety of their environment, their living conditions. They have to take part and if they don’t take part it doesn’t matter what other authorities or units do.
“They can do their best to provide the highest level of safety but it will always fail if the residents don’t play their part.”
In the event of a fire, residents have only a few minutes to make life-saving decisions.
“If they don’t make the right decisions in those few minutes the situation can escalate to a very life-endangering situation,” Mr Bell said.
“That can happen even if the fire systems in the building are working properly. You should know exactly what to do and how you are supposed to get out.”
Raed Al Marzouqi, head of occupational health and safety at Dubai Municipality, agreed that people needed to make more of an effort.
“People need to learn more, they need to get educated and read more about prevention,” Mr Al Marzouqi said.
Ensuring the gas is switched off when not being used, keeping fire hazards like lighters and matches away from children, and putting up smoke alarms are equally important, Mr Zurub said.
He encouraged residents in the capital to learn more about fire prevention on the Abu Dhabi Civil Defence website,