Fire safety concerns

Fire safety lacking in UAE buildings - official

Fire safety features and procedures are lacking in the vast majority of UAE buildings, Civil Defence officials have said.

Lt Mohammed Nasser al Harithi, of the surprise inspections branch of the Civil Defence Directorate, the head of Emergency and Public Safety in Abu Dhabi, told the National that fire regulations were not routinely enforced.

"We continually tell apartment owners that materials that obstruct fire exits are [not good for safety], but we always find people who just do not listen," he told the paper.

The Civil Defence has inspected 5,300 buildings so far this year, including 1,105 residential properties, and the vast majority were found to have poor fire equipment, lacked smoke alarms and had faulty central gas systems, al Harithi told the paper.

So far this year there have been 1,543 fires that caused 30 deaths and 115 injuries across the country, according official figures.

On Sunday, a blaze broke out in an underground car park on Reem Island, in Abu Dhabi, injuring several workers, while the rest had to be rescued from the top of the burning building.

An investigation is now underway into the cause of the fire.

Owners of buildings which do not meet fire safety regulations have up to 60 days to fix the problem. If they fail to do so they face prosecution which carries a fine of at least Dhs10,000 ($2,720) and a minimum three year prison sentence.

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