This edition of Gulf Fire coincides with the 21st edition of Intersec in Dubai which is being staged on 20 to 22 January 2019. Intersec is now well-established as the leading global event of its kind, and the influence and growth of this glittering annual showcase event is truly staggering.
It is hard to believe that Intersec began life as a very modest conference along with a table-top exhibition involving only a few companies. However, within a few years it had already grown into a three-day event, and subsequently has become the world’s leading security, fire protection and safety trade gathering.
For 2019, Intersec’s multiple exhibition halls will embrace a total of 59,000 square metres of stand space. As Gulf Fire goes to print, the 2019 edition has already attracted over 1,300 exhibitors from 59 countries. Intersec 2018 saw 15 country exhibition pavilions, including those representing Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, UK & USA, and there will be more to see in January 2019.
Delegate and visitor numbers from 2018 Intersec totalled 28,999 over the three days of the show, and are confidently predicted to exceed that total for 2019, when visitors will find the industry’s latest trends, cutting-edge innovations and new technology on display from major brand manufacturers, international newcomers and many others. Intersec provides the most important business platform worldwide for all those involved in fire protection and the front line of firefighting and rescue.
Intersec 2019’s fire conference programme also provides a learning and awareness aspect of some of the latest global fire and rescue topics and developments, especially with the current focus on tall tower fire safety and the irregular use of non-fire rated building components. Intersec also offers significant opportunities for general business networking, not just amongst established relationships, but with new contacts amid the thousands of worldwide visitors to the show.
The resurgent construction sector in the Gulf and wider Middle East has seen updated regulations and fire safety standards which have increasingly led to an increased growth in the value of the fire protection sector. Latest economic projections put the Middle East’s fire-related market for firefighting vehicles and equipment, plus active and passive building fire protection systems, to be worth US $3 billion by 2024, something like an 8% annual growth.
One of the many topics likely to feature during Intersec is the seemingly-eternal problem of fires of electrical origin. Regularly featuring at the top of the list of the Middle East’s fire statistics are fires caused by electrical short circuits, or the misuse of electrical appliances and equipment. Older buildings tend to have more inherent fire risks with their aged installations when the sheer demand for extra power can put a much greater load on the electrical supply to a building, over and above normal. Air conditioning units, cooking, lighting and overloaded plug sockets, added to factors that include incorrect installation and poor electrical maintenance, significantly add to the risk of fire.
Such fires as a result of electrical faults and misuse continue to be borne out by other recent fire statistics which demonstrate that the Middle East is not alone in this matter. The UK continues to suffer over 25,000 fires of electrical origin, a number of which have sadly involved fatalities; and there is a trend for these fires to occur in white domestic goods, including tumble dryers, dishwashers and fridge freezers.
Readers of Gulf Fire will, no doubt, recall the October 2018 edition that reported the evidence being heard by the ongoing Public Inquiry into the disastrous horror of the Grenfell Tower inferno in West London on 14th June 2017 that took the lives of 72 men, women and children, despite the heroic rescue work of London Fire Brigade firefighters.
In recent weeks, the Grenfell Public Inquiry has heard the most detailed forensic evidence which confirmed that the tragic Grenfell fire probably started in wiring overheating in a fridge freezer in a 4th floor kitchen of the fateful tower. Investigators recovered the evidence from a small relay compressor compartment of the fridge freezer and a tiny connector within, and highlighted a ‘poor crimping connection’ which did not keep the wires tightly gripped.
The Grenfell Inquiry has also heard earlier evidence of the non-fire rated external cladding panels that ferociously accelerated the spread of fire up the faces of the tower block, trapping residents in their apartments. Several tower fires in the Gulf in recent years have also seen flammable external cladding panels contribute to a rapid upward spread of fire.
Other technical evidence to the Inquiry has also heard that over 100 fire doors which were fitted during the 2017 refurbishment of the Grenfell Tower were non-fire rated and, in addition, were apparently badly fitted. These factors allowed thick toxic smoke to spread so fast into the Tower’s single staircase and upper floors, that many residents and their families were trapped and unable to escape.
In addition, the lifts in Grenfell Tower did not work properly, thus denying firefighters along with their vital equipment rapid access to upper floors. The Tower lacked a sprinkler system and only had a dry riser, and the fire alarm failed to activate at a time when many residents were asleep. As the Inquiry proceeds, yet more unsatisfactory aspects concerning inadequate fire protection continue to emerge.
Ultimately, lessons will be learnt from the Grenfell fire disaster that will probably be applicable to all tall buildings in many parts of the globe. At Intersec 2019, many of these points will undoubtedly be the subject of debate and discussion. Just how can the fire engineering and the firefighting and rescue communities combine with the building industry to bring a greater safety focus to the public at large ? That is the question that needs to be asked, whether in Dubai or in the UK.
Finally, Gulf Fire will be celebrating its third birthday during Intersec 2019, and now enjoys the status of being a Global Media Supporter of the event. Visitors and delegates to the show are very welcome to visit our stand (3-C36) where our team will be very pleased to see you.