On its 22nd year, Intersec 2020 was held on 19 to 21 January at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, and was again under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and supported by Dubai Civil Defence, Dubai Police, and the Dubai Police Academy.
For a show that began life so very modestly as a local one day table top exhibition over two decades ago, the annual Intersec Expo was again a hugely successful show. Intersec organiser Messe Frankfurt Middle East reported that 33,872 visitors drawn from 136 countries came through its doors during the three day event.
1,084 exhibitors from 56 countries displayed their wares with many new and innovative products and solutions on show over an exhibition space spanning 51,749 sqm. Amongst the seven exhibition sectors catered for at the annual Intersec event, Fire & Rescue followed previous years trends in that it saw the largest number of exhibitors with 390 stands.
The country breakdown of exhibition stands were: 1st – China with 230; then UAE with 156; United Kingdom with 147; and the USA with 72. The Messe Frankfurt team led by Show Director Andreas Rex are to be congratulated for putting on another memorable show.
The latest financial statistics make interesting reading and bear out the prominence in the perceived importance of fire protection generally. The 2020 Middle East Fire Safety Systems and Equipment market revenue share by type indicates that Firefighting Systems and Equipment account for US$ 1.16 billion (58% of the market); Fire Detection and Alarm Systems US$ 640 million (32%) and Emergency and Exit Lighting US$ 200 million (10%).
UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash has recently announced that following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (Brexit), the UAE is keen to strike a post-Brexit free-trade deal between the UK and Gulf states as soon as possible. He stated that UK engagement with the Gulf had appeared to wane during three years of pre-occupation with negotiations over the UK’s departure from the Brexit process, but he now hoped for a rapid trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
The prospect of a quick deal with an economic bloc comprising Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman will be welcomed by trade negotiators scrabbling to forge deals before the Brexit transition period ends. Between them, the GCC nations have a GDP of £2.8 trillion. The UAE alone is the UK’s largest export market in the Middle East and the 13th biggest globally.
The UK Grenfell Tower Fire Disaster
Readers will surely recall the disastrous fire of 14 June 2017 in the 24 storey local authority Grenfell Tower in West London which claimed the lives of 72 men, women and child residents. Many of the 255 survivors were overcome by smoke and serious trauma.
The fire was first reported in a fridge/freezer on a 4th floor kitchen at Grenfell Tower and rapidly escalated into a major incident with an attendance of 40 pumps and supporting special appliances with more than 200 London Fire Brigade firefighters tackling the blaze.
Rapidly developing into one of the worst fire tragedies in modern British history, the aggressive external spread of flames right up the tower’s faces and into all the accommodation was accelerated by flammable external cladding panels installed during a recent GBP £8.6 million re-furbishment. The conflagration destroyed virtually all floors of the tower and damaged properties in the surrounding areas.
The Government ordered a Public Inquiry into the disaster and this has been divided into two phases: Phase 1 was held between June to December 2018 and addressed the events on the night of the fire, and the ongoing Phase 2 will investigate the wider situation.
Recent evidence taken at the Phase 2 stage of the inquiry revealed that an application for legal guarantees was made by several corporate firms involved in the refurbishment of the Grenfell Tower, with witnesses stating they would refuse to answer questions out of concern about self-incrimination. The government stopped short of providing every guarantee, meaning it only applies to individual witnesses and not corporate entities.
Even more surprising at the Inquiry was the revelation that the company that secured the Grenfell Tower refurbishment project had no experience with high-rise buildings or cladding residential blocks.
Clearly the ongoing saga of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy and the recommendations of the Inquiry will be of significant interest to all those involved in fire safety the world over.
The Global Threat of Coronavirus (COVID -19)
The world is fast coming to terms with the growing impact that this potentially virus is having across the entire spectrum of civilisation. The World Health Organization has recently labelled the outbreak of the disease a pandemic.
As Gulf Fire goes to press international travel in now seriously affected, and schools, colleges, public events and gatherings are being cancelled on a global scale. The impact on personal lifestyles is also being transformed as precautions, including self isolation, are implemented to protect against the spread of the virulent disease.
New cases are being reported in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. In the UAE the government of Dubai has announced that some state employees will now be able to work from home via a remote work system.
However, one of the possible implications of persons increasingly self isolating is their inability to work. As regards firefighting and rescue emergency services this situation could affect the availability of trained personnel to maintain immediate response turnouts.
Using a computer model, one major UK Fire & Rescue Service has calculated that of its normally available 100 plus pumping and special fire engines, a loss of firefighter crews due to coronavirus may diminish that number of rapid blue light emergency responses by about 15%. Let us hope that the army of global medical expertise currently being urgently thrown at coronavirus will bring about a speedy resolution of this insidious bug.