AESG’s Peter Van Gorp, director of Fire and Life Safety, on reducing risk for building owners
In the year since the major update to the UAE’s Fire and Life Code of Practice in early 2018, its implementation rate has been steadily growing at an encouraging pace. AESG, a leading Specialist Engineering and Consultancy practice in the Middle East, states that while new developments have been quick to implement the regulations and safety measures stipulated in this code, there is need for existing properties to follow suit.
At its Fire and Facades Forum held this month in Dubai, AESG’s Director of Fire and Life Safety, Peter Van Gorp outlined the key challenges UAE developers face with ensuring fire and life safety.
“We see building owners grappling with the complexities of retroactively implementing the necessary changes to already approved constructions and fire safety systems. And even once this has been addressed, there is the question of ensuring the operability and maintainability of these systems.”
While overcoming these hurdles may seem daunting, he advises that the payoff is significant as adherence to the UAE fire code could ‘reduce the risk of potential loss of life or property damage by a factor of 100’.
For both new and existing developments, the company advocates the involvement of a fire safety specialist to design and execute the measures needed to ensure compliance with the code. In addition, AESG recommends periodic safety inspections by certified third-party fire safety engineers as a requisite to ensuring correct maintenance and operation of implemented systems.
“Civil Defence authorities in the UAE have done an excellent job of promoting the revised code and making it easily accessible to anyone who wants a copy. The onus is now on developers to engage with competent fire engineers right from the initial design stages,” said Van Gorp. “For all new projects that AESG is involved in, we make sure fire safety systems are made a priority and work closely with architects, façade engineers and other teams as a coordinated effort is key to success.”
The Head of Façade Engineering at AESG, Belarmino Cordero, considered that the newly defined accountability in the updated UAE Fire and Life Safety Code of Practice will benefit the country’s built environment. “Ensuring code compliance in design and construction is now a shared responsibility between consultants, manufacturers, contractors and owners. The code clearly stipulates what the responsibilities are and puts in place the necessary control procedures.”