Firms under fire over safety rules

SHARJAH — The series of fire accidents that occurred over the past 10 days has once again raised serious concerns over fire safety violations in the emirate’s commercial establishments.


Afkar Ali Ahmed

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Published: Sun 15 Apr 2007, 8:49 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:41 AM

A fire recently broke out in a labour camp in the industrial area gutting 34 warehouses and portakabins.

In another fire accident, the World Line Furniture company and its neighbouring bakery company, Mister Baker, lost property worth Dh20 million in total.

According to statistics released by the authorities, around 10 fire accidents have been reported since the beginning of this year.

Negligence on part of the company owners as far as fire safety is concerned is the primary cause of these mishaps, said officials.

Colonel Gharib Shabban, Director-General of the Sharjah Civil Defence, has urged the authorities to refer companies that flout safety rules to court as these pose danger to neighbouring companies as well.

“These owners who never show up at the site when a fire breaks out on their premises lack a sense of responsibility,” he said.

Colonel Shaban further said fire safety equipment, including fire alarms, hose pipes and extinguishers, in most of the warehouses are usually found to be not working. Moreover, there’s never an adequate number of security personnel on the premises.

Brigadier Salih Al Mutawa, Director-General of the Sharjah Police, said, “Companies should not be given licences to construct labour camps near their workplaces or near the warehouses.”

He added that the Sharjah Police are currently investigating the cases to prepare a report about violations and safety lapses in industrial areas and to issue fresh guidelines to minimise the risk.

A top official at the Sharjah Forensic Laboratory said forensic reports proved that most of the fire accidents that occurred last year were caused by lighters, cigarette butts, electric wires or chemical substances.

Expressing concern, the official alleged that often a fire is deliberately started by people to claim insurance amounts, get rid of unsold goods or to destroy evidence of such crimes as murder or theft. Therefore, several such accidents are registered as criminal cases.

“People behind these fire accidents remain unknown and insurance companies are bearing the brunt of it with claims running into millions of dirhams,” the official said, adding that the losses incurred from these fire accidents are estimated to be Dh55 million, according to the recent statistics provided by insurance companies and civil defence departments.

A member of a recently formed committee to fight fire accidents said, “Rules and regulations regarding safety should be reviewed regularly to minimise such accidents.”

He added that the committee during its inspection campaigns issued warnings to more than 582 companies found flouting safety rules. “But nothing has changed.”

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