Building a Safer UAE: Managing Serious Risks in Fire & Life Safety
Safety is not an intangible concept. There are no guarantees when it comes to safety. The world is full of complexities and uncertainties and most of which, people have little or no control over. But an efficient and well-ordered society keep on cultivating a good safety culture to manage and reduce risks from accidents and disasters.
The UAE adopted a Fire and Life Safety Code of Practice way back in July 2011 that encompasses safety requirements for buildings from acceptable construction materials down to installation, testing, commissioning and maintenance of the systems. These safety rules undergo constant revision to keep up with the changing experiences in the UAE with regards to fire safety. But it is not enough to just constantly revise and update the rules, half of the battle is careful enforcement of those rules.
In this issue, Snag & Inspect will discuss the value of inspection on determining the crucial aspects of life and safety codes which are often violated, the consequences that people may suffer when these safety rules are neglected and how the government, real estate, construction, engineering sectors may contribute in improving the safety systems in the country. Safety codes are indeed a work in progress and a never-ending job that requires comprehensive rules and efficient enforcement for the need for safety never ends.
Check to avoid a wreck: Using Inspection in Improving Fire & Life Safety
Like many other countries which have attained strong economic stability, the UAE has experienced significant challenges in the pursuit of maintaining and improving Fire and Life Safety for the citizens and communities.
The UAE government adopted Fire and Life Safety Code of Practice in July 2011. This code of practice is mainly based on American standards but is also receptive to European standards for particular systems in order to build the best and most comprehensive safety solutions in buildings. It enables control over activities within a property by influencing every aspect of the process from the submission plans through construction to commissioning and maintenance of key systems. Even with strong foundation, these rules however, undergo constant revision to cope up with changing needs of the society.
In order to address these shortcomings, the UAE Civil Defence has developed major strategic plans to ensure correct implementation of the code as this is the key in upgrading fire and life safety of UAE properties. Mandatory inspections on buildings are conducted by Civil Defence every year. However, Civil Defence admitted that they have finite resources to achieve constant building inspections to make sure that everything is in order. With this, an independent building condition inspection and full infrared thermographic survey of building facilities by a certified third-party inspection company is definitely an added value in ensuring that fire safety and electrical systems are working as they should be.
Building inspection is a valuable tool in achieving maximum protection against fire and life safety hazards. Certainly, private inspection companies like Snag & Inspect have found deficiencies and code violations among various buildings in the UAE. Snag & Inspect has picked five common issues and flaws that could compromise fire & life safety including the following:
1. Significant lack of compliance to the design and installation regulations on Passive Fire Protection System involves inaccurate building and sealing of compartment walls, fitting of fire doors and sealing of pipes.Passive Fire Protection systems are built to delay the spread of a fire and would only be effective if it is built right per the code;
2. Inaccurate commissioning of Fire Sprinkler Systems after installation and its poor maintenance could lead to the breakdown of the system over time. A system that is poorly maintained can lead to false alarms, sounds not working when needed and the complete breakdown of the system;
3. Violation of regulations governing installation, commissioning and maintenance of Fire Alarm Systems leads to faulty fire alarms that create false alarm call-outs. These frequent false alarms leave the public desensitized;
4. All too common disregard to the wiring standards by conractors by utilizing plastic electrical connectors despite ahving it banned in the UAE. The use of unprotected non fire-retardant plastic connector blocks is not an uncommon practice in the UAE, these are banned for safety reasons; and
5. Improper installation of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) involve absence of gas detection system and automatic cut-off valve in buildings.
By identifying these common flaws through an in-depth building inspection, the public may have a peace of mind by providing optimum assurance of the safety of their families, properties and investments. Inspection means protection.