x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Safety campaigns cut Sharjah fires by half

The number of fire-related accidents in Sharjah falls by more than half in 2012, thanks to fire safety campaigns in the emirate.

SHARJAH // The number of fire-related accidents in Sharjah fell by more than half last year, according to Sharjah Civil Defence officials.

Four people died and 46 sustained injuries in fires last year. Seven people also died in other rescue-related operations and 61 were injured. In total 760 fires were reported in the emirate in 2012. Vehicle and house fires were most common, with 153 and 152 cases respectively. There were 61 factory fires, but only two school fires, both of which were minor.

Brig Abdullah Saeed Al Suwaidi, the director general of Sharjah Civil Defence, said fire-safety campaigns had helped.

There were only 23 reported breaches of fire-safety rules in the Sharjah industrial area.

But two of the biggest residential fires last year were in Sharjah. In January, a fire in the Al Baker Tower 4 displaced 125 families and in April a blaze in the 40-storey Al Tayer Tower displaced more than 400 families. Both were caused by cigarettes thrown from upper floors.

Brig Al Suwaidi said the emphasis this year would be on residential fire safety.

"We have already achieved a lot in reducing industrial fires and hope to build on this to reduce residential fires as well this year," he said.

The Civil Defence also opened several new fire stations last year, including one in Al Madam and another in Khor Fakkan, and upgraded existing ones in Al Dhaid, Kalba and Maleha.

Last year, the department was criticised for taking too long to attend a fire in Madam in which a father, 53, and his son, 20, died.

In Ajman, firefighters handled 308 fires last year, while there were 1,050 ambulance and rescue operations, up from 800, according to Ajman Civil Defence.

An Ajman Civil Defence spokesman said most fires had occurred in residential buildings and labour camps.

ykakande@thenational.ae