By Olivia Olarte

ABU DHABI — Starting next month, construction and consulting companies will have to comply with a more stringent fire safety standard with the launch of the Emirates Code by the UAE Civil Defence.

Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa

The Emirates Code, which has already been approved by the Ministry of Interior (MoI), will be released during the first Fire Safety Technology Forum (FST-UAE) that will be held in the Capital on July 7.

“For the code, we took the best practices in the world such as that of the UK, France, Singapore and Hong Kong, and we took the standards that are applicable to our country and the region,” said Major-General Rashid Thani Al Matrooshi, Acting Head of the UAE Civil Defence and Director-General of Dubai Civil Defence, while announcing the details of the forum in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

“This is the first step of development. Then we will distribute the code to all consulting companies who will be required to integrate all fire-fighting system into the building, such as the smoke detector and fire sprinkler,” he added.

Maj.-Gen. Al Matrooshi noted that while this will be enforced in all buildings, it will be optional for villas where “risk is minimal.”

“Despite efforts to keep fire incidents to a minimum, we still have incidents here,” said Al Matrooshi. The challenge therefore is to improve fire prevention by using state-of-the-art systems that would locate technical, electrical or mechanical faults which could result in a fire.

Vehicle fires in the UAE is very low compared to some cities in the world, according to Al Matrooshi. He said car fires occur in Paris at every eight seconds or 950 incidents everyday whereas in the UAE, there are 1,500 car fires every year, 90 per cent of which account for simple or controllable fires.

“So in comparison, this means the percentage is very low in the UAE. We have a goal to reduce the incidence of fires from five to 10 per cent every year,” he said, noting that the UAE has a fire truck for every 100,000 population.

Organised by the Civil Defence in association with the International Quality and Productivity Centre (IQPC), FST-UAE forum will provide a platform for international and regional fire safety experts to discuss and showcase the latest innovative technology and systems that can protect lives, properties and the environment.

The forum will be divided into two sessions, the command level and the technical part. Over a hundred delegates, including key decision-makers, are expected to attend the event. The second FST-UAE edition will be held on May 2012.

Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world will be on showcase at the forum. “The higher the building the risk is higher as well. We will present a case study of Burj Khalifa because it has all the safety system that protects lives. It has an evacuation system and evacuation lifts instead of a staircase in case of fire and its 38 lifts are fire and smoke-proof. The Burj Khalifa can also withstand an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 on the Richter scale,” explained Maj. Gen. Al Matrooshi.