NAT SHARJAH FIRE-1614084577957
The Civil Defence department recorded zero deaths in Sharjah last year due to fire, compared to two deaths in 2019. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Awareness campaigns by Sharjah authorities have helped reduce fire incidents in the emirate and led to an increased safety level for buildings, with 130 incidents recorded in 2020, as compared to 299 in 2019, marking a 56 per cent drop. The Civil Defence department recorded zero deaths in Sharjah last year due to fire, compared to two deaths in 2019.

Colonel Sami Khamis Al Naqbi, Director General of Sharjah Civil Defence, attributed the success to the efforts of the Civil Defence department by taking all necessary measures and mobilising the required resources and deploying state-of-the-art technologies to ensure rapid emergency response through qualified firefighting cadres, concerted action and teamwork to help achieve the goals of the General Command of Civil Defence.

He noted that Civil Defence followed the field’s best practises in line with international standards, including deploying the latest technology to ensure the best possible levels of control, security and alarm systems. Col Al Naqbi reviewed the achievements of the department during a session organised by Sharjah Government’s media department on Tuesday under the ‘Tawasel’ initiative.

Lieutenant Colonel Hani Al Dahmani, Director of the Media Department at Sharjah Civil Defence, and a number of other officials attended the session.

Quick response

Sharjah Civil Defence has responded to emergencies in a shorter time span than what standard protocol demands. The department is currently working hard to achieve the fastest possible response time to reports of fire by increasing the number of fire stations in the emirate’s vital areas. “The response time in 2019 was 5.4 minutes. In 2020, it dropped to 5.1 minutes.”

Sharjah Civil Defence wants to achieve a response time of four minutes by 2022.

Currently, there are 13 Civil Defence stations in the emirate, including three points (smaller operating units). Four new station will enter service during 2021. These new stations will be in Kalba, Al Dhaid, Maleiha and in the Industrial Area. In 2020, six new fire engines and 172 firefighters joined the fleet.

“Fire spreads quickly, so it calls for a quick response. The department has also linked all commercial and industrial establishments in the emirate to the Civil Defence Operations Room to alert firefighters and pinpoint the location of a fire for quicker response,” said Col Al Naqbi.

Col Al Naqbi pointed out that the number of investors in the civil sector increased to 456 during 2020, compared to 355 companies in 2019.

Tough inspections

Establishments that receive warnings from inspectors regarding inadequate fire-safety measures will have to approach the service centres at the Civil Defence offices to prove that the situation on their premises has been rectified. Civil Defence is currently coordinating with the authorities concerned, including the Sharjah Municipality, Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority, Sharjah Economic Development Department (SEDD) and Sharjah Survey and Planning Department for this purpose.

Col Al Naqbi said most of the recent fires were caused by faulty electrical appliances and overloading of power supply [which causes short circuits in transformer cables], negligence, improper power connections and damaged electrical cables.

In 2020, Sharjah Civil Defence had carried out a number of major awareness campaigns on the field and shifted to online campaigns as well since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to educate residents, business owners, workers and employees about the importance of implementing fire-safety procedures. Col Al Naqbi also pointed out the importance of spreading the culture of fire prevention by increasing awareness campaigns and programmes involving community members and media outlets, including social media.

Civil Defence also installed around 6,500 devices in houses to detect smoke.

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Steps towards ensuring better fire safety:

— Providing digital and smart services and working remotely around the clock.

— Modernisation of the Civil Defence fleet by the addition of six new fire engines.

— Increasing the number of fire and rescue teams by recruiting 172 additional firefighters.

— Opening of two new fire stations at Al Dhaid and Kalba, two Civil Defence points at Al Thamid and Sharjah Expo Center.

— Obtaining the standard of British governance in fire-safety, in coordination with PSI.

— Obtaining classified registration for an innovative virtual reality-based training programme.

— Signing of partnership deals with Sahab Company for Technology Solutions and Research and Innovation Park.