Construction

Sharjah ‘curbs cladding use’ pending new UAE fire safety code

Committee from Civil Defence and other government departments has been formed to look into the issue – report

A huge fire broke out in March at a tower in neighbouring Ajman.

Sharjah Civil Defence has stopped giving permission for the use of cladding in facades of new buildings until a new UAE fire safety code is introduced, a senior official has told local media.

According to a report by Gulf News, a committee from the Civil Defence and other government departments has been formed to look into the issue, with a report expected within two to three weeks, the official said.

During this period, the Civil Defence departments will not issue any permissions to construction companies for the use of cladding on their projects, said Brigadier Abdullah Saeed Al Suwaidi, director-general of Sharjah Civil Defence.

“We are waiting for the new UAE fire safety code, which may prohibit the using of flammable materials or come with a solution for cladding panels,” he said, speaking on the sidelines of an event in Sharjah.

Al Suwaidi added that the Sharjah Civil Defence would be upgrading its fire engines with GPS systems to quickly reach the location of fires. Messages received from operation rooms will directly go to fire engines to lead them to the precise locations of incidents, he explained.

The move follows a string of fires in high-rise blocks in the UAE, prompting renewed fears about cladding materials used in some buildings.

In March a huge fire broke out in a high-rise residential tower in Ajman. That followed the massive blaze at The Address Downtown hotel on New Year’s Eve, which police said was caused by an electrical fault.

Earlier in 2015, a huge fire hit The Torch building in Dubai, which also led to questions being raised over the façade material used.

In January this year, Rashid Thani Al Matroushi, director of Dubai Civil Defence, said that the UAE Fire and Safety Code would be updated to curb the use of cladding on buildings higher than nine storeys under certain conditions.

“If a building owner wants to use cladding, then there needs to be a road around the building that would allow fire trucks to go around the building. If not, then the building should not use cladding,” he was quoted as saying in the wake of The Address Hotel fire.

Al Matroushi added that for buildings higher than nine storeys, if construction companies wanted to use cladding, they would need to use it on a small section of the building.

“For example, use cladding on two floors, then have two floors made of cement, to prevent the fire from spreading,” he said.

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