The annual Intersec Expo in Dubai in January 2018 was the 20th year of the event that began life so modestly as a local one day table top exhibition two decades ago.
The 2018 Intersec event held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition 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.
Intrersec has, year upon year, outgrown other international events to become the most dynamic global gathering and technology shop window in every sense of the word. In so doing, Intersec truly reflects the influence of the Gulf region in fire and safety matters.
According to organiser Messe Frankfurt Middle East, Intersec 2018 attracted 29,727 visitors from 121 countries, as they sourced solutions and networked with 1,337 exhibitors from 59 countries spanning 56,250 sqm of exhibition space.
There were 223 UAE Exhibitors whilst Intersec’s global participation was led by 293 exhibitors from China; 120 from the UK; and 87 from the USA. A 2018 show highlight was the total number of 15 Country Pavilions – from Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and the USA.
The estimated value of the GCC Fire Safety Systems and Equipment market is expected to reach a staggering US$ 2 billion by 2023. A breakdown of the various sectors of this prediction is: 37% Fire Detection and Alarm Systems; 29% Sprinkler Systems; 16% Fire Suppression Systems; 13% Fire Extinguishers; and 11% Emergency & Exit Lighting.
Two significant future events – Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and the upcoming Dubai Expo 2020 in the UAE are also very likely to boost the further growth and demand for safety schemes. Gulf Fire will continue to report upon and feature aspects of the growth of the Middle East fire protection market. Other factors driving the growing Gulf regional demand for new fire safety products include various government schemes, the transportation sector especially new railways, residential, retail, hospitals and medical care developments, together with new tourist attractions.
This corresponding edition of Gulf Fire last year reported on the unveiling of the modified UAE Fire Code following a number of serious tall tower fires where it was believed that flammable external cladding panels had accelerated the rate of fire spread. The primary concern of the modified Code related to improving the fire safety of cladding panels, especially those on existing tall towers and other buildings. Dubai Civil Defence said the stricter regulations on cladding panels were to ensure non-flammability is “as close to zero as possible” to minimise fire spreading as ferociously as has been witnessed during recent Gulf incidents.
Since then, came the terrible Grenfell Tower inferno in North Kensington, West London, that despite the heroic work of London Fire Brigade firefighters claimed the lives of 71 men, women and children residents.
The fire was first reported at 00.54 hrs in a fridge freezer in a 4th floor kitchen at the 24 storey Grenfell Tower, and rapidly escalated into a major incident with an attendance of 40 pumps and supporting special rescue appliances with more than 200 firefighters tackling the blaze.
The aggressive external and internal spread of flames right up the Grenfell tower block was probably unprecedented in its speed as it rapidly involved all floors to develop into one of the worst fire tragedies in modern British history,
Following the formal establishment of the government Public Inquiry in August 2017, the Inquiry’s initial focus has been the designation of Core Participants (CP), and the securing of necessary expert involvement and the gathering of documentary evidence.
The Inquiry has now advanced to receive an unprecedented number of CP applications, and has appointed a number of leading experts in the field of forensic fire analysis and fire engineering. Analysis has begun of 200,000 documents received to date, with more to follow.
Advice from the team of experts is that understanding the conditions within the Grenfell Tower, including the generation and movement of fire and smoke, is of paramount importance. To enable the experts to reach firm conclusions, they need evidence of conditions at different levels within the building as the fire and smoke developed, as well as evidence of the development of flames on the outside of the building.
Obtaining accounts from both the former residents of Grenfell Tower and from the firefighters who responded is key to this. About 225 residents managed to escape from the building and approximately 260 firefighters attended the fire. There are therefore about 500 witnesses to interview, together with other people who have accounts which must be heard. This means that, in many instances, the police need to take statements from potential witnesses before statements can be taken for the Inquiry. This is to ensure that the integrity of the evidence given to the police cannot be called into question at any future criminal trial.
Clearly, the Grenfell Inquiry will be a very thorough and searching event. At its conclusion its recommendations are likely to have a profound impact of fire safety and prevention, not just in tall towers in the United Kingdom, but in the Gulf and beyond.
Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric