Revisions to Fire and Life Safety Code considered

Dubai Civil Defence and Municipality officials to meet and discuss changes to code

The UAE’s Fire and Life Safety Code may be revised to prohibit non-fire rated cladding panels on high-rise towers after Dubai and Sharjah’s municipality banned flammable panels.

A report by Dubai based daily newspaper, Gulf News, has claimed that revisions to the code are in the pipeline following a recent spate of fires in high-rise towers across the UAE. Despite being introduced in July 2011, the new fire code has yet to become law due to delays in translating it to Arabic.

Experts have warned that hundreds of towers across the Emirates could be at risk because they are enclosed with dangerous non-fire rated panels made of petroleum based plastic cores that burn within minutes.

In an interview with the paper, Pramod Challa, chief of engineering at Dubai Civil Defence said that while new building designs must meet the national fire code from the start, there was no legal wording in the code that expressly forbid the use of ‘non-fire rated panels’ on these new projects.

As such, the code was obviously a work in progress, which had not caught up with new municipal updates, he explained. He added that meetings were planned between fire and municipal officials to discuss the cladding panels’ issue.

“We should have a unified approach by both departments when it comes to materials,” Challa said.

“We (Dubai Civil Defence) will make a circular if everyone agrees that it makes sense. Let’s wait and see what Dubai Municipality says.”

He explained that when certain materials or incidents are not covered under the new UAE national fire code, it defaults to standards formed over the last century by the US-based National Fire Protection Agency.

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