Dubai Civil Defence-linked fire alarms to become mandatory in villas

Fire alarm systems linked to the fire service control rooms are to become mandatory for all new villas in Dubai.

Even if no one is home in the event of a fire, the automated process would ensure that DCD is alerted and it could immediately send a fire-fighting team. Pawan Singh / The National
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DUBAI // Fire alarm systems linked to Dubai Civil Defence will become mandatory for all new villas in the emirate.

The authorities have yet to announce when that will be enacted, but Dubai Civil Defence said it would be similar to the installation of fire alarm systems at 52,000 commercial buildings five years ago.

All villas would be required to have a single fire alarm button linked to the civil defence control room, said Jamal Ibrahim, the department’s director of preventive safety.

“This is part of plans to make homes safe since our staff cannot do everything,” he said.

With the installation of the alarm systems, the details of the villas – such as the number of residents, the address, floor plans and photographs of the building – have to be submitted to the civil defence.

Fire engines will be equipped with a smart tablet, to which information will be sent by the dispatch centre when an alarm is triggered.

“We can install the direct alarm system within 48 hours. This will help occupants to reach emergency services with a click of a button,” said Jagmeet Tagore, general manager of Pacific Control Systems, a company that installs the system for the civil defence.

Even if no one is home in the event of a fire, the automated process would ensure that firefighters were alerted and it could immediately send a fire-fighting team, he said.

Firefighters would have the addresses of villas so no one would have to call the emergency number, said Mr Tagore.

When an alarm is triggered, the the civil defence can send the nearest available fire engine rather than dispatch vehicles from the fire stations.

Last year, 500 villas were the first to have the fire alarm system installed. The authorities have been raising awareness of the fire alarm system among developers and building consultants so that new buildings can be designed to accommodate the system.

The installation fee for the system is Dh1,900 and the annual fee for the round-the-clock service is Dh500.

When the fire alarm system was installed in commercial buildings in 2008, it was not compulsory.

But it became mandatory within the following three years.

The villas will have a single fire alarm button, unlike buildings that have a panel of other services also monitored from fire systems including sprinklers to elevator alarms and water pump systems.

The guidelines of the fire alarm system stipulates that the alarms must be installed inside the home, near the front door, at a height of between 1.2 and 1.4 metres. There must also be a power source near the door.

The civil defence can also use the fire alarm system to communicate with residents.

“If there is an emergency or disaster, the civil defence can broadcast messages to residents that will appear on the touch screen [of the system in their homes],” said Mr Tagore.

To prevent the accidental use of the alarm system, the alarm button must be pressed for four seconds to trigger a warning.

Mariam Watani, an owner of three villas, questioned who should pay to install the fire alarm system.

“When the fire department is a phone call away, why do I need this expense?” she asked. “It should be only if the tenant wants to have it.”

However, Joyce D’Abro, who rents an apartment in Downtown Dubai, said that having the fire alarm system would provide peace of mind to residents.

“What happens if a fire starts and we are not at home? This will help to monitor the house,” she said.