UAE | Emergencies

Civil defence gears up to improve domestic fire safety across UAE

Every flat and house to be covered in one of the world's biggest domestic safety campaigns

  • By Samir Salama, Associate Editor
  • Published: 17:15 December 19, 2010

A fire in Sharjah
  • Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News
  • File picture of a blaze at a factory in the Sharjah Industrial Area.

Abu Dhabi: Civil defence officers will visit every house across the UAE to educate the public on fire safety in what is believed to be the world's biggest fire safety campaign, a senior official said on Sunday.

"The effort, meant to improve domestic fire safety across the country and reduce casualties and loss in property, starts today [Monday] and will last for six months," said Major General Rashid Thani Al Matroushi, Acting Commander-in-Chief of the UAE Civil Defence.

Major General Al Matroushi said more than 217 officers and warrant officers would visit homes to examine fire risks, and find the best ways to curb them.

"The campaign aims to minimise domestic fires, save [lives] and protect properties. At present a fire erupts every three days in the UAE, compared to one every day in a modern city like Munich, in Germany, and we aim to reduce this to the minimum possible," he said.

Safety partners

He added fire protection could not be achieved without spreading preventive awareness among families and encouraging them to play their role as partners in safeguarding their lives and others also from the fire risk.

About 66 field teams headed by a lead team have been assigned to carry out this mission throughout the country.

Domestic fires accounted for 12 per cent of total fires which erupted across the country last year, according to Civil Defence statistics. The percentage was as high 36 in Ras Al Khaimah, 33 in Al Ain, 28 in Umm Al Quwain, 25 in Fujairah,23 in the Western Region, 22 in Sharjah, 19 in Ajman, 18 in Abu Dhabi and nine in Dubai.

According to Major General Al Matroushi, the number one cause of domestic fires was faulty exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms, and circuit breakers.

Families would be greeted with safety awareness publications, and toys for children.

More than 4.2 million safety booklets, pamphlets and posters in Arabic and English are to be distributed during the campaign.

The move was prompted by a number of major fires, such as the one that erupted in Sharjah during Ramadan last year and caused the death of an elderly woman and three children.

Many householders in this country are becoming more aware of the risk of fire, which can be caused by a multitude of things such as faulty wiring, faulty heating systems, unattended candles, cigarettes or pan fires.

The list of causes was endless which shows that residents should be on their guard at all times, fire safety experts said.

Firefighting equipment

Major General Al Matroushi said many families now did have fire alarms fitted which could only be a good thing — however, not so many people went to the next step and bought a fire extinguisher. If the worst were to happen and a fire was to break out in the home, many people simply would not know what to do or how to put it out, he said.

This campaign was meant to help them know what to do, and how to put out a fire, he said.

There are different types of fire extinguishers suited to various types of fire. It sounded complicated but each fire extinguisher had its use clearly marked, he said. They are red in colour but each different type has a panel around the top of the fire extinguisher in a different colour.

GAS FIRES PROTECTION

1. Check gas cylinder and gas installations (pipes, hoses, valves) on regular basis to ensure their good working conditions

2. Ensure connection rubber pipe has no cracks and of good quality, and its length is suitable enough to avoid formation of sharp bending.

3. Use soap foam to ensure no leakage (if bubbles exist that indicate there is leakage), avoid using matches to check the leakage.

4. Stoves and burners must be checked to ensure their cleanness and no blockage in gas outlets.

5. Ensure gas burners are closed after use. And gas sources are remaining closed when not in use and when you leave the place.

6. Avoid gas leakage during cooking

7. To operate burner or oven, ignite the matches first then open the burner or stove.

8. Kitchen shall be provided with gas detector

9. What to do when gas leakage is discovered:

- Do not switch on/off electrical switches
- Do not operate exhaust fans or light matchboxes to avoid any explosion
- Immediately evacuate all the persons from the area
- Close the gas valve tightly
- Turn off any surrounding ignition sources
- Open all the doors and windows to ventilate the place
- Identify the source of leak, then call specialist for repair. 

WHAT TO DO IF FIRE ERUPTS AT HOME

1. Immediately evacuate residents from the house

2. Close the door while leaving the room, kitchen or the place where fire originated to prevent spreading of fire

3. Attempt to use fire extinguisher to douse fire in its early stages without exposing yourself to any risk

4. Must contact immediately the civil defense emergency number 997 or 999 to report the fire and provide location proper address.

GENERAL GUIDANCE FOR THE FAMILY AT HOME

1. Family's guardian must know about the types of potential fire and the used extinguishers

2. Setting safety plan for family members and maids, including steps to be taken during emergencies.

3. Civil defense emergency number 997 or 999 must be located in a prominent place in the house

4. Assign some of the family members to awake and evacuate the children, elderly and special needy people during fire emergency

5. Train family members specially children on how to evacuate safely during fire emergency

6. Avoid smoking in bedrooms or where children gathered. About 25% of fire is caused attributed to smoking

7. Avoid using grills and charcoal heaters in confined places

STRUCTURAL NATURE OF THE HOUSE

1. Kitchen, corridors, children rooms, sitting rooms and stores must be provided with smoke/heat detectors and voice alarm systems

2. Villa/house shall be provided with more than one obstacle free emergency exits for easy escape

3. Provision of external stairs for escaping from the uppers stories

4. No iron bars in the windows

5. Kitchen shall be provided with minimum half hour fire resistant auto close doors

6. Electrical wires and cables shall be periodically maintained, and shall not be exposed or installed under the carpets.

7. Minimum a distance of one meter shall be kept between any source of fire or heat and flammable materials

8. Stair case shall be provided with fender to lean against

9. Bathrooms shall be provided with anti-slip tapes and handles to be used by elderly people.

Who to call: 

The public were urged to contact the campaign at www.homesafety.aeinfo@homesafety.ae  or call the cell phone number 050 7780284.

Do you know what to do incase of a fire? Have you talked to your children about what to do in case of an emergency?

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