Call for installing smoke detectors ring loud after villa fire deaths in UAE


Records show that many fires break out due to poor maintenance.- Alamy Image
Records show that many fires break out due to poor maintenance.- Alamy Image

Fujairah - Eight Emiratis died in a villa fire in Abu Dhabi in October last year.

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Published: Tue 25 Jun 2019, 5:00 PM

Last updated: Wed 26 Jun 2019, 2:36 PM

A day after two Emirati siblings aged three and four suffocated to death after their villa caught fire, experts have stressed the importance of installing smoke detectors and fire alarms in residential buildings. Top officials also called for increasing public awareness on fire safety.
Records show that many fires break out due to poor maintenance, bad quality supplies, gas leaks and residents' lack of knowledge of handling emergency situations.
On Tuesday, the siblings were playing in their room on the second floor of the villa in Fujairah when a fire broke out. Their parents were at work while their grandmother was on the floor below, unaware of the tragedy that was unfolding upstairs. The fire was reported to the civil defence only after a passerby noticed dense smoke coming out of the window of the kids' room.
In January 2018, seven Emirati children died after a fire broke out in their villa in Fujairah, while in 2013, two brothers died after their basement caught fire. Brigadier Ali Obaid Al Tunaiji, Director of the Fujairah Civil Defence, said if smoke detectors had been installed in the villas, precious minutes between a fire breaking out and it being reported to the authorities could have been saved.
He said fire alarms, fire blankets and extinguishers have become "life-saving tools".
After eight Emiratis died in a villa fire in Abu Dhabi in October last year, the Ministry of Interior had unveiled an initiative called 'Hassantuk for villas,' which was to cover 400,000 homes across the country in six years. It is a 24/7 connected fire alarm system powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and smart technologies.
Are residents prepared?
Mohammed Ibrahim, a Ras Al Khaimah resident, said many families have not installed fire extinguishers at their homes. Several others don't know how to use them. "This is a life-saving tool and all family members must be trained to use them."
Ahmad Ali, an Egyptian expat, said he suffered burns after a pan with cooking oil caught fire. "I managed to turn off the LPG cylinder and cover the pan. Unfortunately, I removed the cover before the fire went out on its own and the oil fell on my hand."
Mohammed Salem, a safety engineer, said residents must learn how to react to emergencies. "Once you hear a fire alarm, rush to the nearest fire extinguisher and use it to put out the fire.
"Shout for help or call 997 and rush to the nearest exit. If your clothes catch fire, simply follow the golden rule: 'Stop, drop and roll'.
"Cover your face and that of your children with a damp towel. Once you get out of the room, close the door behind to prevent the smoke or flames from spreading."
How to remain fire-safe: The 10 commandments
>Install fire detectors and alarms
>Maintain a valid fire extinguisher and blanket
>Teach your family about the right way to respond to emergencies
>Cover all electric connections
>Keep LPG cylinders away from the stove
>Turn off the gas cylinder after use
>Don't smoke in the house and don't dump cigarette butts in the dust bin
>Keep the windows of your kitchen open to disperse any gas leaks
>If a pan with oil catches fire, just cover it totally to cut off the oxygen supply
>Clean off all accumulated oil and grease from appliances
Source: Brigadier Mohammed Abdullah Al Zaabi, Director of Ras Al Khaimah Civil Defence

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