Fire safety knowledge is patchy in northern emirates

Tenants of high-rises on Al Arouba Street, Sharjah, said they did not know whether prevention systems such as alarms and extinguishers were available or even working. Instead they relied on security guards to alert them.

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SHARJAH // Residents in the Northern Emirates admit they do not know whether their buildings have proper fire safety equipment.

Tenants of high-rises on Al Arouba Street, Sharjah, said they did not know whether prevention systems such as alarms and extinguishers were available or even working. Instead they relied on security guards to alert them.

“It has never crossed my mind to ask about them but I assume they should be checked every once in a while to make sure the extinguisher works,” said Salma Khalaf, 23, of Qasimiya.

Ali Hamdan, 36, who lives near Al Arouba Street, said there was a hydrant and an extinguisher on his floor but he “never bothered to check if they are functioning”.

Pakistani watchman W A said the building had the equipment required by the Civil Defence and municipality, and it was checked. He said: “The fire extinguishers and hydrants are in good shape.”

In Fujairah, residents also said they were unaware of whether their systems worked.

“The smoke detector is outside in the hall. It’s not a new building but I think they need to add some more inside our own houses to feel safer,” said Mohanad Abu Dawoud, 33, a Jordanian.

Mohammed Asad, 28, a Syrian on Hamad bin Abdullah Street, said of his smoke detector: “The light is on, the detector is on, but I don’t know if it’s going to detect a fire if I had one. The extinguisher is also available but I actually don’t know how to use it.”

Mohammad Siraj, an Indian watchman, said there were regular checks in his building. “The company responsible visits us each month to check and maintain the system, and we didn’t experience any situations until now,” said Mr Siraj, 35.

Before any residential building in Ajman is allowed to open, the owners must submit safety certificates and be inspected, said Col Nasser Al Zari, head of media relations at Ajman Civil Defence.

Yousef Mazin, 27, a Jordanian auditor, said that in the six years he had lived in the emirate, the fire extinguisher in his apartment had never been replaced.

“Even if I tell the owner of the building to update the equipment, he won’t do that,” said Mr Mazin.

Col Al Zari said Civil Defence teams would investigate any complaints and then tell the municipality to take action.

In Umm Al Quwain, Ahmad Mohammed, a 27-year-old Jordanian civil engineer, said the building in which he had lived for 15 years had no fire safety equipment. But he said: “If any fire happens I will escape because the building consists of just two floors.”

Yousef Osama, 30, a Palestinian accountant, said older buildings often lacked alarms or fire extinguishers. “Because there is no fire extinguisher I bought one and kept it in my apartment. When these buildings were built, people had no awareness about the importance of this equipment,” he said.

tzriqat@thenational.ae

* Additional reporting by Rezan Oueiti and Ruba Haza