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Dubai recently witnessed a dramatic fire that engulfed three blocks of a 30-year-old building complex on Salah Al Deen Street in Deira, rendering around 400 residents homeless and destroying many businesses.
While there was no loss of life because of the timely evacuation by authorities, the financial losses are estimated to be huge. Authorities have begun an inquiry into the incident, which will pinpoint the reasons why the tragedy happened. And while recommendations follow to prevent similar incidents in the future, building owners and residents need to adopt precautionary measures.
In an interview with PW, Khalid Al Khatib, CEO of Naffco, a Dubai-based producer and supplier of life safety solutions, talks about the importance of educating industries, businesses and the wider community about fire safety and averting major disasters through simple awareness and response strategies.
How do you view the recent incidents of fires in high-rise buildings, warehouses and vehicles in the UAE?
In Dubai alone, most fires are reported from residential buildings. In 2014, 220 fire accidents took place in residential buildings, including apartments and villas, as compared to 380 fire accidents in 2013. Fire accidents in residential buildings accounted for 30.8 per cent of the total number of fires last year. The authorities have saved 183 people last year from fires. Minor fire accidents represented 95 per cent of the total fires reported last year, while 4.3 per cent were moderate and 0.7 per cent major. Against this backdrop, it is imperative to ensure that there is a great degree of synergy in systems, and that their functionality remains unaffected, to ensure that people are saved.
What more can be done to drive home the culture of fire safety and awareness across industries, businesses and the wider community?
Fire safety awareness across industries, businesses and the wider community is the need of the hour. Many fire accidents can often be averted only with simple awareness and response strategies. It is important to undergo a fire-safety training programme where people are taught everything from handling basic firefighting equipment to defining firefighting and escape routes. There should be wellcommunicated educational programmes on fire safety and drills.
You have recently been appointed as a safety ambassador for the Middle East. What would you have to say about existing firesafety solutions?
It is important to implement automatic fire detection systems and fire-safety solutions while planning a construction. The onus of the safety of the residents is on the builder and the owner of the building. Highlighting and maintaining the fire extinguishers, fire alarms, first aid boxes and fire exit points in buildings, be it commercial or residential, are essential precautionary measures to ensure that people can easily escape in case of emergency.
Education on fire safety must be made mandatory for everyone. This can be done by conducting fire drills at regular intervals throughout the year. Fire drills are one way of educating people to not panic and create chaos during fire, and to enable them to help themselves and others to safety. It is also vital for residential and commercial buildings to comply with the local building code.
Panic causes more chaos. At the time of fire try to stay focused on how to get yourself and others out of the building. Know the fire exit points, the fire alarms, extinguishers, the first-aid kits and the assembly points in your building. If there is too much smoke in the air stay lowered to the ground to reduce toxic inhalation and crawl towards the exit points. Use stairs and not elevators at the time of fire. Always remember to call the emergency notification system by keeping the emergency number handy.
What kind of products, technology and services have you introduced into the market?
Naffco was founded in Dubai and specialises in offering complete solutions for all types of high-quality firefighting equipment, fire protection systems, fire alarms, addressable emergency systems, security systems, custom-made vehicles such as fire trucks, ambulances, mobile hospitals and airport rescue fire-fighting vehicles.
On the one hand we use cloud technology in supporting fire-fighting systems, and the other involves a fuel filtration system. In rendering cloud technology support for fire-fighting systems, the operability hinges on cloud technology. To ensure functionality, all main fire pump and controller components are connected to a wireless server that sends a direct message in case of failures, allowing Naffcofs engineers to inspect and fix the problem. This is a first-of-its-kind innovation in the world.
While this may not be feasible at all times, given that electricity may not be accessible, Naffco has devised a smart way to assist system functionality through a Fuel Filtration System. Since a diesel tank is often left unused for a long period of time until emergencies strike, bacteria may get into it and ruin the diesel. This in turn will affect its functioning in igniting the fire pump, which will hamper fire-fighting operations and lead to greater risks. Naffcofs unique solution in this space creates a self-cleaning fuel filter that helps protect the diesel fuel from being ruined.
What are the markets that you cater to?
Our market share in the firefighting industry is expected to increase by 90 per cent in the next five years.
We currently cover over 100 countries worldwide and in the future our aim is to supply and manufacture firefighting equipment for protecting life, environment and property all over the world. In 2021, we see ourselves as the major suppliers in sectors involving solar power, oil and gas.
Source: Krishna Kumar, Special to Property Weekly