The new decade kicked-off in the Middle East with a very successful Intersec 2020 Exhibition. With the major projects and construction activity continuing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) it is encouraging to see that Intersec Saudi Arabia took place at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center from 23-25th March 2020.
As innovation is a consistent theme within the fire sector in the Middle East, there are many opportunities to work on ground breaking projects. Recently in KSA The Ministry of Environment, Water & Agriculture signed a contract with Solar Water Plc to build the first-ever ‘solar dome’ desalination plant in Neom. The construction began in February and is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
This innovative project represents the first use, on a large scale, of Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technology in seawater desalination. The ‘solar dome’, which consists of an array of mirrors, will focus solar radiation on its glass and steel structure to heat seawater. Once it evaporates and precipitates as freshwater, it will then be discharged through outlets to reservoirs and irrigation channels. The plant will not produce carbon emissions and create less brine than facilities using conventional reverse osmosis technology.
At an estimated USD 0.34/m3, the cost of producing water via ‘solar dome’ technology will be significantly lower than desalination plants using reverse osmosis methods. The technology will also significantly reduce the impact on the environment by producing more concentrated brine, a potentially harmful byproduct of the water extraction process.
The ‘solar dome’ desalination process, which can also operate at night due to the stored solar energy generated throughout the day, will reduce the total amount of brine that is created during the water extraction process. Typically, the high salt concentration in brine makes it more difficult and expensive to process. The solar dome process helps prevent any damage to marine life as no brine is discharged into the sea.
As highlighted in the last branch update I can confirm a positive update regarding sponsorship for the branch and I’m pleased to confirm that Warringtonfire and Element have provided financial support to cover the licensing and registration of the branch through the Dubai Association Centre (DAC).
Many readers will know Warringtonfire (part of the Element Group) as a leading independent fire consulting, testing, inspection and research organisation, with over 40 years of industry experience. Warringtonfire work hand-in-hand with some of the world’s leading architects, contractors, facility managers, manufacturers and building owners to ensure each project’s fire safety requirements are met through innovative design solutions.
Many readers may not be so familiar with Element Materials Technology. Element has one of the most comprehensive ranges of materials testing services available in the Testing, Inspecting and Certification (TIC) sector that covers materials selection, application and performance testing as well as failure analysis testing services.
Element is a trusted testing partner to many of the world’s most recognized and iconic brands within the global Aerospace, Transportation, Oil and Gas, Fire and Building Product, Infrastructure and Environmental sectors and employs over 6,600 Engaged Experts, who solve most complex technical and commercial challenges in the fields of materials selection; materials application; production; certification and failure analysis.
The March 2020 examinations took place on Thursday 12 March and Friday 13 March 2020 and the examination centre was run in Dubai as previously. There were 17 candidates sitting a total of 28 examination papers. This is fairly consistent on previous years but it is encouraging that over half of the candidates are new to the Dubai examination centre. Thanks again go to Johnson Controls for allowing the branch to use their Tyco Training Academy and in particular to Jason Mather for his on-going support for the examinations.
The International General Assembly (IGA)
The IGA met in February 2020 in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Due to work commitments the branch wasn’t represented at the meeting, however feedback was provided to the UK in relation to the 2020-2024 strategy consultation document. This Programme for Change covers the period 2020-2024. It details the various pieces of work that will enable the organisation to deliver on its strategic objectives in the most effective way, so the mission of the Institution can be achieved. This plan and the overarching strategy mark a new approach to managing the organisation for the benefit of its members, the fire sector and society. The challenges to society from fire provide the background to which the IFE must strive to achieve its vision. The Programme for Change captures and prioritises the most relevant and important areas in which efforts will be focused. The projects on core business improvement, international and UK opportunities are central to this.
There has been a feeling that the Institution remains too reliant upon support from fire and rescue services and has not really committed vigorously enough to supporting and sustaining itself and an engineering institution leading efforts to define global best practices in fire risk management. The UK and overseas branches are working to implement a structure that ensures overseas members are properly engaged and supported, and feedback and observations were discussed as part of the IGA. I’ll highlight the outcomes of the consultation process and the IGA meeting within the next branch update.
The next IGA meeting will be held prior to the AGM in Birmingham taking place at the Repertory Theatre/ Library of Birmingham, Birmingham on 22nd – 23rd July 2020, the theme of this year’s conference focuses on ‘Time for Change’, the past, present and future of fire engineering. “Time for Change” will take delegates through the past, present and future of the international fire sector. The conference will delve into the preservation of heritage buildings, investigate the protection issues we have in the present with passive and active fire prevention, before looking ahead at Modern Methods of Construction and what these mean to the fire sector as a whole.
Alongside the conference there will also be the International President’s Dinner at the Birmingham City Council House on the evening of Wednesday 22nd July. An evening to network, celebrate the year’s achievements and hear from the incoming International President as they host the event in this architecturally stunning location.
A partnership between Birmingham City Library and Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Unique Venues Birmingham provides excellent conferencing facilities under the linked buildings in Centenary Square, the heart of Birmingham. With easy access to Birmingham railway stations and a tram stop just outside the building, it will provide an ideal space for international and UK delegates alike.
Special Interest Groups (SIGs)
The SIGs continue to undertake great work and provide the opportunity to members to share their experience and learning with like-minded fire professionals. Each group offers news updates and document postings for knowledge exchange and worldwide networking. It would be remiss not to mention the sterling work being led by Adam Course in developing the Firefighter Safety Database and I would encourage members and readers alike to view the database on the IFE website – www.ife.org.uk/firefighter-safety. New special interest groups currently under development include Firefighter Safety and Industrial Fire and Risk. As a reminder current SIGs include:
- Competency and Ethics
- Fire Investigation and Research
- Fire Modelling
- Fire Resistance
- Fire-Fighter Safety
- Heritage Buildings
- Industrial Fire and Risk
- Smoke Ventilation
- Fixed Firefighting Systems