A technician installs a smart fire alarm system in a residential building. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: After the deadly villa fires in Fujairah and Baniyas, more homeowners are turning up to buy fire safety equipment, traders said.

Demand is especially high for smoke detectors and fire safety equipment. Traders in the capital said their customer footfall increased by up to 70 per cent after horrific fire incidents in the country earlier this year.

Most of the buyers are Emiratis, they said.

In October, an early morning blaze ripped through a villa in Baniyas, on the outskirts of the capital, killing eight people from an Emirati family, including five children and three women. Abu Dhabi Police later confirmed that the fire was caused by faulty cables and electrical short circuits. In January, seven Emirati siblings in Rol Dhadna area of Fujairah were killed in a villa fire, also caused by an electrical fault.

Ali Hussain Ahmad, 41, owner of a fire safety equipment company, said: “Nowadays, 70 per cent of our customers are home and villa owners and their numbers have increased after tragic fire incidents in Fujairah and Baniyas.”

“Most fire incidents happen due to installation of poor quality electrical wires in homes and villas.”

People buy fire extinguishers and smoke detectors at a store on Abu Dhabi’s Muroor Road. Image Credit: Anwar Ahmad/Gulf News

Electrical wires should be of good quality and homes and buildings must be equipped with a fire alarm system linked to the civil defence operation rooms, he added.

Deadly phones

Locals attribute mobile phones, which are plugged in whole night for charging, as a major cause of fire from electrical short circuits. Charging throughout the night can be a deadly affair, residents said.

An Emirati resident of Baniyas, Abdullah, who turned up to buy a smoke detector, said: “My villa in Baniyas is not fitted with any fire alarm system. But the next step, God willing, is to install a fire alarm system soon.”

He added: “These smoke detectors are very important to install in each home or villa. The problem nowadays is with the mobile phones. Everyone plugs in their mobile phone for charging when they go to bed at night. It is terribly wrong.”

Abdullah said: “I bought a smoke detector which costs only Dh100 and it’s nothing for the safety of the family.”

Used fire alarms

Installing a fire alarm or smoke detector in a house appears to be a very simple task, but the reality is the opposite.

Firstly, it is costly to install, requiring a whole fire alarm system, control panel, monitoring, inspection and Civil Defence certifications.

“It’s not only a smoke detector to buy and install. It comes with a full fire alarm system, control panel, smoke sensors and water sprinklers. For a comprehensive fire safety, it should be installed professionally,” Ahmad said.

Because of the cost of new equipment, some people resort to buying used ones, he added.

For example, he said, double wiring with control panel may cost between Dh15,000 and Dh20,000 for installing a fire alarm system in the whole villa. But linking with the internet is more costly — its price ranges between Dh25,000 and Dh35,000.

The prices are not fixed, they may go up and down as per the number of rooms, detectors and kind of equipment and wirings as well, he said.

Different kinds of fire safety equipment are available in the market from various countries, including Mexico, Thailand, China and the UAE.

Salem Hamad, a local resident from Abu Dhabi, said: “Most of the Baniyas villas are old and are not fitted with fire alarm system and to save money, some people buy the used fire-control panels, which is not good. These smoke detectors also come in cheaper rates at around Dh80.”

Other brands may be lower in prices, ranging Dh70 or Dh75, but their validity will be only for five years, he added.