London should take tips from Dubai on high-rise fire safety

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London should take tips from Dubai on high-rise fire safety

Dubai - Fire-retardant cladding and regulation of fire safety as well as building codes hold the key.

By Staff Report

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Published: Thu 22 Jun 2017, 1:18 PM

Last updated: Thu 22 Jun 2017, 4:11 PM

Remember the Torch Tower fire in Dubai on February 21, 2015? Now, compare it with the recent Grenfell Tower blaze in the UK capital. Both were massive. The London fire took a huge human toll. Forget about fatalities, the Dubai blaze didn't even damage the structure of the building - thanks to fire-retardant cladding and regulation of building codes.

It is fire safety designs and mechanisms that have saved many residents of high-rise buildings in Dubai whenever a blaze has erupted.

But since these were not in place in London, the toll in the Grenfell Tower fire went up.

The Torch Tower's exterior cladding largely remained intact except for a corner of the building that caught the fire - that did not spread so fast due to the superior quality of the materials and construction technology and due to the rapid response by the Dubai Civil Defence and Dubai Police.

In a report, BBC said, "The fires in Dubai high-rises have caused no fatalities because the design and construction of the buildings allowed firefighters to battle the blaze and residents to evacuate via smoke-free, fire-free safety zones."

Sam Alcock, Tenable Dubai's director is quoted in the report, as saying, "All the fires here lasted six to seven hours but occupants managed to evacuate successfully and all fires were extinguished with no loss of life. In my opinion, design and construction is what saved lives."

The rapid spread of the fire in Grenfell Tower in London was caused by the substandard and flammable materials used in the cladding, according to initial reports.

"Material used in the cladding that covered the Grenfell Tower was the cheaper, more flammable version of the two available options, an investigation of the supply chain has confirmed," said a report in a British media.

Reports of the tragic incident of Grenfell Tower has also cited the high-rise fire incidents in the UAE - home to 24 per cent of the world's tallest 100 towers, according to the list published by Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) - the most authentic database of global skyscrapers.

Dubai alone hosts the top 20 of the world's tallest 100 towers, led by Burj Khalifa. Among others, Dubai is also host to the 414-metre-tall Princess Tower - the world's tallest all-residential tower and JW Marriott Marquis - the world's tallest all-hotel towers - standing tall at 355 metres each, as well as the Torch, constructed by Al Hamad Group of Companies.

"UAE has a solid building code and regulations are periodically revised to reduce the dangers - that was witnessed in some of the high-rise fire incidents in emirate," Nashat Sahawneh, Chairman of Al Hamad Group of Companies, said. "This was clearly evident during the fire on the 51st floor of the Torch - we were confident the fire could not spread vastly due to the quality materials used and the construction methodologies in this project.

"Contractors and Dubai Municipality and Dubai Civil Defence - who examine, test and certify all the materials used in each buildings - work closely on the safety issues before issuing the No- Objection Certificates (NOCs) and building permits.

"The fire incidents in Grenfell Tower and the Torch - show us how fatal accidents could happen if proper materials are not used and if the building codes are not followed. Although the UAE has witnessed more fire incidents in high-rise buildings, loss of life and material damage has been less fatal in the emirates - which shows that building regulators and contractors work together to ensure safety in buildings."

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