Following the latest tall tower fire in Dubai involving the Address Downtown Hotel on New Year’s Eve, Dubai Civil Defence have announced new restrictions on the use of external cladding panels.
The use of cladding will be restricted in new buildings in the UAE following a new set of regulations to be added to the UAE Fire and Safety Code. Major General Expert Rashid Thani Al Matroushi, Director of Dubai Civil Defence, said some of the new regulations will include not using cladding for buildings that are higher than nine storeys.
“If a building owner wants to use cladding, then there needs to be a road around the building that would allow fire trucks to go around the building, if not, then the building should not use cladding,” he said. “For buildings higher than nine storeys, if construction companies want to use cladding, they should use the cladding in a small section of the building. For example, use cladding on two floors, then have two floors made of cement, to prevent the fire from spreading.”
Major Gen Al Matroushi added that for shorter buildings, such as showrooms, they can use cladding as a fire can easily be controlled. He said that most companies choose to use cladding because it looks good and is cost-efficient.
These regulations were the result of the meetings of teams that were formed on orders from Lt. General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, to check all buildings in the UAE especially for flammable cladding, and also for any other discrepancies, whether inside or outside the building, that could be potential fire hazards or in conflict with the Fire and Life Safety code. For older buildings, solutions will be provided case by case, once the survey of all buildings is completed.
Major General Matroushi also announced that Dubai Civil Defence has ordered two new fire trucks with extra-powerful pumps that can deal with fires in buildings as high as 100 floors. At present, the ladders of the fire trucks used by the Civil Defence can reach up to 18 floors.
The Major General said the two new fire trucks have extra powerful pumps that pressurise the water seven times more than regular pumps. “The new trucks pump foam and water simultaneously which makes the hose lighter and easier to handle than if it was all pressurised water,” he said. “We have tested one of the trucks before buying them on a 96-floor building and it performed very well.” The new fire vehicles were ordered following the Torch building fire in 2015. One of the new vehicles will be stationed in the Bur Dubai area and the other in the Deira area.