In the January issue of Gulf Fire we reported on the roundtable event exploring high rise building fires, shared learning and experiences from the UAE held at the Department for International Trade, Westminster, London.
During the Intersec 2018 Conference and Exhibition, Gulf Fire took the opportunity to speak with His Excellency, Major General Expert Rashid Thani Al Matrooshi, Director General, of Dubai Civil Defence about some of the issues discussed in London.
Gulf Fire: The 10x programme is an exciting initiative, in addition to the use of predictive analytics and historical data what are the other methods by which accelerated progress has been achieved through 10x?
Major General: We have presented 4 new innovative propositions which require a considered amount of disruptive change challenges and the five initiatives are;
- Blockchain technology for seamless transparent fire safety building and equipment approvals processes
- 30 second response initiative, which provides DCD control of actions at an incident site within 30 seconds
- Humanities Hub; changing philosophy of traditional fire stations to that of open houses, with facilities for coffee meetings for professionals or public alike. So an opportunity to get close up and interact with community fire officers
Gulf Fire: The UAE safety code is well respected, and this appears to be the case for contractors, facilities management companies and enforcing authorities. How has such a key document commanded such a response and adoption across the wider UAE?
Major General: Obviously, this code has been the subject of years of work which has been successful due to all civil defence, municipality and other NGO’s working together in order to produce a set of codes that are best suited for the region. In fact the second addition (2017) have been amended to adopt suggested changes with more imagery and to include learning from recent incidents across the UAE.
The next steps are to ensure that all the end users are now comfortable with the new codes and that there is a common comprehension and buy in from all the Emirates.
Gulf Fire: The fire at the Address building demonstrated the clear benefits of fire suppression, effective fire compartmentation and a well-managed and orderly evacuation. Is there confidence that this would be consistently demonstrated across all high rise buildings in Dubai and how is assurance measured?
Major General: The fire safety measures adopted in the Address are of a minimum standard for all recent builds (2008). All buildings post this are covered by the new 2011 UAE Fire & Life Safety Code of Practice and subsequent new issue 2017 which has all the learning summarized within these codes, including from the address fire.
Any building pre 2008 have been inspected and where partible upgraded structurally and all fitted out with the 24×7 monitoring and direct alarming system. Also, there are a stringent set of safety procedures that must be adopted by the building owners and tenants in accordance with new legislation and law issued by the Rulers office.
Gulf Fire: It was encouraging to hear that DCD exercise due diligence on construction materials. Could you broadly explain the process this takes and the methods used to ensure materials are compliant?
Major General: Through our on-line e-engineering portal we have the ability to review materials and equipment by physically checking all applications for DCD Licence to operate and renew, whereby all legal aspects including certification is verified, together with a technical evaluation of the materials against testing processes and equipment specification and ‘fit for purpose’ evaluation.
Gulf Fire: During the presentation, you described how DCD have placed greater emphasis on fire prevention over the past 15 years. What do you believe has been the main factor in the success of this work?
Major General: In short real ambitions to identify the risks in order to holistically agree on a strategy to reduce the effects on the community in order to allow developers the degree of confidence that the UAE is becoming a safer environment.
Gulf Fire: Whilst DCD have increased their prevention activity, emergency response has demonstrated continuous improvement utilising information gained through building design and management and through continued investment. Has DCD seen any significant change in staffing arrangements such as shift changes or numbers of employees during this time?
Major General: Currently, Dubai is undertaking a massive development program in all sectors so in fact whilst DCD is improving and developing in line with this growth we still have to expand our capacity in order to maintain the resilience to date. The Government and major developers are assisting with the dynamics of this to a greater degree. However, we are still determined to constantly look for innovation whilst carrying out disruptive challenge to our traditional methods of the service.
Gulf Fire: Beyond construction, DCD continue to actively monitor their complex risk through the operation of a the 24/7 monitoring centre for buildings systems is key to actively monitor Dubai’s complex risk. The 42% reduction of reportable fires demonstrates the significant benefits of these arrangements. Is participation in this monitoring mandatory for building owners?
Major General: Yes, in fact now there has been a new agreement by all other Emirates that this will be enacted nationally.
The monitoring and direct alarming are just the initial phases of these systems but we intend to expand on the information gathering processes together with smarter technology being passed between our control centers and the buildings management and ultimately the tenants.
Gulf Fire: Major General, thank you once again for your time and for sharing your thoughts with the readership of Gulf Fire magazine.