'He died with honour': Family pay tribute to brave Dubai firefighter

Omar Khalifa Al Ketbi lost his life on Friday responding to a fire in Al Aweer

Sgt Omar Khalifa Al Ketbi, firefighter at Dubai Civil Defence who had died responding to a fire in Al Awir. Photo: Salem Al Ketbi
Powered by automated translation

The family of an Emirati firefighter who died in a Dubai blaze have expressed their pride in knowing their son and brother died in the line of duty, rescuing others.

Sgt Omar Khalifa Al Ketbi, 29, from Dubai Civil Defence, lost his life responding to a fire in Al Aweer last Friday.

Sgt Al Ketbi's eldest brother, Capt Dr Salem Khalifa Al Ketbi, who works at the forensic science and criminology department at Dubai Police, told The National that his family were in shock.

“Until now, we can’t believe that he passed away,” said Dr Al Ketbi.

“My relationship with Omar was like father and son because of the age difference. The last time I saw him was on Thursday before he went to work on Friday.”

Crews from Al Mizhar, Rashidiya and Nad Al Shiba fire stations were called to the scene at Al Kabayel Discount Centre at 12.32pm.

Sgt Omar Khalifa Al Ketbi, firefighter at Dubai Civil Defence who had died responding to a fire in Al Aweer. Photo: Salem Al Ketbi

They helped people to safety and spent several hours extinguishing the fire.

Sgt Al Ketbi was killed when a section of the building's roof collapsed during the cooling-down process at 7.20pm.

Serving this country

Omar's father, Khalifa Al Ketbi, received a phone call on Friday to say his son was in a critical condition and family members rushed to Al Aweer.

“We arrived at the blaze scene and were informed about his death. It was shocking news for our family,” Dr Al Ketbi added.

“It is a big loss but this is God’s will. Omar is a martyr, as he died with honour while performing his duty and serving his country.”

Sgt Al Ketbi, who was single, and his brother lived with their parents in he Al Mezhar, Dubai. They have seven sisters.

“Omar was a loving and caring person, always looking to help people and to do good deeds. He was looking after my parents and always helping me whenever I asked him for something,” said Dr Al Ketbi.

The sergeant had served with Rashidiya fire station since 2017 and took the lead in extinguishing hundreds of fires in the UAE, his brother said.

“He always goes quickly to any fire scene ahead of his friends. He was brave since he was a child. He picked a noble occupation and wanted to be a firefighter to help others,” he said.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, paid tribute to the firefighter in a post on Twitter.

“Our firefighters sacrifice their lives to save others and to protect our nation,” Sheikh Hamdan wrote.

Sgt Omar Khalifa Al Ketbi, left, with his brother Capt Dr Salem Al Ketbi and his father Khalifa Al Ketbi during this year's Eid Al Fitr. Photo: Salem Al Ketbi

“Dubai will remember Sergeant Omar Khalifa Al Ketbi, who passed away while on duty responding to a fire in Al Aweer.”

Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed, First Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed, Second Deputy Ruler, also offered their condolences to the family.

“The support we found from UAE leaders and the nation relieved the pain of losing Omar. Everybody visited us during the funeral and didn’t leave us alone,” said his brother.

Brig Ali Hassan Al Mutawa, Dubai Civil Defence's assistant director general for fire and rescue affairs, described Sgt Al Ketbi as a unique character and popular among his friends.

“Omar was the last firefighter leaving the fire scene before a section of the building's roof collapsed,” said Brig Al Mutawa during the funeral.

“He was professional in his work and always stepping ahead of his workmates during blazes.

“He had full knowledge of safety procedures and was fully equipped with gear but it is the firefighter’s destiny in the world to present such sacrifices.”

Updated: May 09, 2023, 12:00 PM