The UAE’s fire code from 2011 was already under-revision at the time of the fire at the Address Hotel at Downtown Dubai on New Year’s Eve 2015.
Its publication was delayed to allow further changes to be made in the wake of the Address fire and several other high rise blazes where external cladding and other building materials were thought to be a contributing factor.
Earlier this year, the scope of the new code was made public at the Intersec safety and security conference, and were said to be in force by the end of January.
The code requires the use of third-party independent inspections, strict accountability and fines, although specific technical details were not made available.
At the time, Lt Taher Al Taher of Dubai Civil Defence said he was: “Confident that we’re going to have the safest cladding in the world. We have raised the standards for the supplement materials, and even the responsibilities of the consultants.”
The amended UAE Fire Safety and Life Protection Code specifies procedures for the installation of cladding and contains detailed guidelines and responsibilities for consultants, contractors and manufacturers.
Offenders would face prosecution and fines of up to Dh50,000, with a key new requirement requiring builders to carry out regular maintenance on cladding panels and replace them after a certain date.
The regulations did not require cladding of older buildings to be immediately retrofitted. The Torch tower would have been constructed under the old regulations, but it is not clear if the repairs after the first fire at the building, in 2015, were made based on the amended fire code.
The new fire code is reported to be almost twice the length of the previous document, at nearly 1,400 pages.
Currently the only version of the code available through the Dubai Civil Defence portal is the 707 page edition from 2011.
In pictures: Torch tower blaze