Qatar’s Emir has approved a new law aimed at accelerating the country’s response to natural disasters and other catastrophic incidents, and to tighten building safety requirements.
One of the major changes contained in Law No. 25 for the year 2015 involves shifting responsibilities from the Ministry of Interior to a newly established Civil Defence Council, local media reports state.
Under the previous legislation, Law No. 13 of 1997, it was up to the Minister of Interior, who needed approval from the government cabinet, to declare a state of emergency. This responsibility will now fall to the new Council, which will also be in charge of co-ordinating and assigning duties to various ministries and authorities to ensure the country is prepared to respond to disasters.
It will also take precautionary measures, such as establishing emergency shelters, according to the text of the law published by Al Sharq. The council will also provide information so that emergency safety techniques can be taught in schools as well as religious and military institutions. Finally, it will be responsible for setting the country’s firefighting and civil defence policies.
Previously, this fell to the Ministry of Interior’s General Directorate of Civil Defence, which will continue to oversee day-to-day operations under the new legislation. The old law did not explicitly connect a business license to Civil Defence inspection, nor mention the need to regularly test fire alarms.
Additionally, the designs of all new government buildings must be submitted to the MOI’s General Directorate of Civil Defence, which will scrutinize and approve fire detection system plans.
Following the Emir’s approval, the Interior Minister must now issue the necessary decrees to implement the new provisions. Until then, the old law remains valid. Companies will be given a six-month grace period to sort out their affairs from the date the law is implemented, according to Article 30.
Image courtesy of Omar Chatriwala / Doha News