Revealed: Why a lot of fires happen in Sharjah

Revealed: Why a lot of fires happen in Sharjah
The recent fires in industrial areas have not recorded any casualties, thanks to the quick response and evacuation operations by authorities

Sharjah - The recent spate of fires has raised concerns among Sharjah residents, who expect more such accidents in the next two months.


Afkar Ali Ahmed

Published: Sun 9 Jul 2017, 10:05 PM

sharjah - A spate of fires in Sharjah over the past two months have left the authorities concerned in its wake. Despite the collaborative efforts being made by the concerned authorities to curb fire accidents in the summer, blazes have erupted in factories, warehouses and commercial outlets over the last weeks, gutting all their contents and creating a huge loss of properties to owners.
Right at the start of the summer and in June alone, four massive fires broke out in the emirate. It has raised concerns among Sharjah residents, who expect more such accidents in the next two months of intense summer heat.
Unlike residential fires, the recent fires in industrial areas have not recorded any casualties, thanks to the quick response and evacuation operations by authorities.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Colonel Sami Al Naqbi, Director General of Sharjah Civil Defence, said that there are many reasons for fire accidents in the summer, such as overloading of power in transformers, cables, poor quality of wiring and improper electricity network connections. "These result in electrical short circuits that lead to a fire in one warehouse or industrial premises, which then spreads quickly due to the flammable materials stored inside," he said.
"Improper storage don't cause fires, but it does hinder firefighters from entering the area. The other main reason for fires is negligence on the part of companies that fail to adhere to fire safety procedures, thus exposing their workers to danger," he said.
Industrial areas are also prone to fires because the temperatures there tend to be higher than in residential areas, created by the operation processes of factories, workshops and industrial plants. One recent accident occurred in an oil plant that caught fire. "We can't say that all fires are set off by the owners themselves to gain insurance money, because most of the warehouses and factories gutted this year were uninsured," Col Al Naqbi stressed.
He noted, however, that massive fire incidents have reduced by over 50 per cent this year, compared to the same period last year. "The extensive efforts being made by the Civil Defence in coordination with concerned departments, such as the municipality, Sewa, police, and economic department to save lives and properties has paid off," he said.
Quick response minimises loss of lives and damage
The Civil Defence has responded to emergencies in a shorter time that standard. The department is currently working hard to achieve the fastest possible response to fire accidents by increasing the number of fire stations in the emirate's vital areas. "The response time in July 2016 was 7.4 minutes, while the target is 5.5 minutes," he said.
"The flames spread quickly, so only quick response can control the blaze before it reaches nearby premises or objects. The department also seeks to link all commercial and industrial establishments in the emirate to the Civil Defence operations room, to alerts firefighters and show the fire location for quicker response," said Col Al Naqbi.
In many cases, people try to put out the fire themselves and delay calling the Civil Defence, an act that is as dangerous as it is careless, causing loss of properties.
Ministry of Interior's advanced tech for fire-fighting
Now, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) has introduced advanced technology and qualified human resources to promote levels of response, readiness and awareness and enhance prevention efforts to address potential risks and challenges.
Effective July 1, the department implemented new procedures that obliged owners of warehouses, workshops, factories and commercial outlets to bear the cost of firefighting operations if a fire in their premises is caused by safety violations.
The Sharjah Civil Defence decided on the procedures as part of the Ministerial Resolution No. 213 of 2017, recently issued but not yet implemented. "We decided to implement it here in Sharjah due to its unique situation regarding the size of industrial areas," he said.
One business owner whose premises caught fire last week has had to pay up already, seeking to pressure owners into following fire safety regulations at any cost.
"The insurance companies are not allowed to process insurance services for any business without approval from the Civil Defence; violating this rule will result in forcing the insurance company to bear all responsibilities in the even of accidents," Col Al Naqbi warned. 

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