The IFSJ Leaders in Fire & Safety Conference, led by Dubai Civil Defence (DCD) in Dubai on Thursday, discussed key issues such as firefighting innovations, the latest regulations and trends and business strategies. Image Credit: Aghaddir Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: Over 120 fire safety experts from all over the world came together at a conference in Dubai on Thursday to showcase and discuss the advancements in vbattling fires, even as they signed new agreements for knowledge sharing and other avenues of collaboration.

The IFSJ Leaders in Fire & Safety Conference, led by Dubai Civil Defence (DCD), discussed key issues such as firefighting innovations, the latest regulations and trends and business strategies.

DCD signed an agreement at the event with the Institution of Fire Engineers to launch a global platform to exchange best practices and learn lessons from previous fire incidents.

ChatGPT-generated video

At the outset of the conference, Lieutenant General Rashid Al Matroushi, DCD Director-General, appeared in a special AI-generated video to welcome the delegates. The video was created using ChatGPT and other applications to create a digital version of the fire chief.

Brigadier Ali Hassan Al Mutawa, Assistant Director General for Fire and Rescue Affairs in Dubai, signed the agreement with Steve Hamm, chief executive of Institution of Fire Engineers, a UK-based registered charity established more than a century ago.

Brig Al Mutawa said: “It’s an important partnership for both sides. The new interactive platform will allow members to exchange best practices and what they have learnt from experience.”

Dubai is striving to improve response times to limit damage caused by fires and save lives, he said, sharing with experts his 25 years of experience in dealing with fire incidents in Dubai.

He said that more than 80,000 buildings in Dubai are linked to the 24/7 fire alert system. Besides innovations and well-trained firefighters, public awareness on fire safety is key to preventing fires,he added.

AI-powered readiness

The DCD Readiness Project, which was officially launched in January, uses Artificial Intelligence to flag up potential fire incidents and providesthe innovative solutions in the field of predicting fires, experts from Dubai shared.

Captain Issa Ahmed Al Mutawa, Director of the Supervision Department at the General Directorate of Civil Defence in Dubai, told Gulf News that the programme has received international praise and support from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) as it relies on the use of Big Data technology by linking it with government departments, analyses that data using AI, and predicts the probability of fire accidents based on a database accidents that occurred in the emirate over the last five years.

The programme contributes to identifying the causes of fire for each region and categories of people and accordingly sends educational materials in the form of short text messages to residents in those areas.

Virtual officer in action

The department also sends messages containing a link which activates an avatar of an officer who explains safety messages to people in different languages.

Capt Al Mutawa said the target is to send five million awareness text messages in two years.

For example, a month before the Indian festival of lights - Diwali - the department will send awareness text messages with a virtual officer explaining all safety measures.

Lt Gen Al Matroushi praised the role played by DCD in providing innovative solutions in the field of emergency response.

AI alerts

DCD has harnessed cutting-edge AI to deliver fire safety alerts to more than a million residents in at-risk areas since the start of the year.

The authority has used advanced technology to analyse six years of fire incidents data to determine how, when and where fires are most likely to occur.

Information gathered through the Dubai Readiness programme is used to identify residents who live in fire-prone ‘red zones’ which have recorded the highest number of fires.

Captain Al Mutawa said awareness videos have been generated in 198 languages, ensuring that a crucial safety message reaches all corners of the emirate’s multicultural society.

“AI is used to analyse data on fires in recent years, identify red zones and the reasons behind the incidents. With a few steps, we can educate people in their language about the most common behaviour that causes fires.”

He said targeted messages are sent during cooler winter months too to prevent camping fires.

Special alerts also target people living in high-rise buildings in collaboration with telecommunication companies Etisalat by e& and du.

“During winter, there are fires in desert camps, farms and tents because of barbecues, so we send messages about what they can do to prevent them,” he noted.

Smoking in balconies, poor storage of flammable mateirals, gas leaks, electrical faults and use of firewood or coal to heat up rooms are some of the most commkon c auses of fires, he added.