UAE to introduce fines for consultants who cut corners on fire safety

The fines will apply to new structures across the Emirates.

The fire at The Address Hotel in Dubai prompted tighter legislation. Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters
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DUBAI // Stiff fines will be levied on building consultants should faulty fire safety material, including cladding, be discovered by civil defence inspectors.

The fines will apply to new structures across the Emirates, said Maj Gen Rashid Al Matrooshi, director general of Dubai Civil Defence. Details on the exact amount will be announced in two weeks.

“These fines will be very strict because we want to prevent any bad installation of fire safety material in buildings,” said Gen Al Matrooshi, speaking ahead of the Fire Safety Technology ­Forum next week.

“If the civil defence discovers any failure in fixing of the material then the consultant will be held responsible. This will also be specified for fixing of cladding material.

“There were other different categories of fines before but now it will also be specified for installation. It is not just cladding that can be the problem, but also poor installation.”

The announcement of fines was welcomed by the industry to ensure that the use of high quality fire-rated equipment became the norm in construction.

“There is insulation material that is combustible so this decision will further ensure consultants and contractors opt for non-combustible insulation material on the facade, which reduces the risk of fire and the spread of fire,” said Kerim Caglar, technical marketing manager for Knauf Insulation.

“Cladding is also a long-term issue. The implementation [of fines] will further enforce the quality of the facade cladding material to be used. The issue with cladding material is that some contains just a couple of millimetres of plastic-based combustible insulation. This move will reduce the chance of these materials being used.”

The speed at which flames took hold of the Address Downtown Dubai hotel on New Year’s Eve, as well as a recent blaze that engulfed buildings in the Ajman One development, prompted the authorities to clamp down on the use of combustible plastic-filled aluminium composite panels on building facades.

As part of plans to tighten regulation and implementation, manufacturers who sell building material not approved by authorities will for the first time face prosecution under new provisions in an updated fire safety code to be issued soon.

The final facade product must be tested, not just individual components, with consultants being responsible for the structure for at least a year after project delivery, as per changes in the nationwide Fire and Life Safety Code.

Details of new awards for innovative fire safety designs will be announced at the annual fire-saftey forum next Wednesday.

The awards are open to companies and university students. An international panel of judges comprising industry leaders and academics will select the winner.