Firefighters extinguishing a fire in a building in Sharjah. For illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Sharjah: Making negligent owners of industrial and commercial buildings pay for the firefighting costsd in case of a fire is aimed at ensuring they are deterred from flouting fire-safety norms, in Sharjah that are not compliant with the latest fire-safety norms have to foot the bill for firefighting at their premises, Sharjah Civil Defence have warned.

If it is found that fire-safety norms and measures had not been adhered to, then owners of warehouses, workshops, factories and commercial outlets will be required to cover all costs involved with dousing a blaze, the Fire Department has said.

Colonel Sami Khamis Al Naqbi-1634290104143
Colonel Sami Khamis Al Naqbi, Director-General of Sharjah Civil Defence

The charges will be calculated on the basis of the number of hours spent in extinguishing the flame, the number of fire engines and firefighters deployed for the purpose and material and equipment used in the operation.

Over and above the firefighting charges, a fine of up to Dh50,000 will be imposed for flouting fire-safety codes as prescribed by the emirate.

Tenants also have a responsibility

Colonel Sami Khamis Al Naqbi, Director-General of Sharjah Civil Defence, has urged all property owners, investors and tenants to adhere to safety rules and share the responsibility with Civil Defence in protecting life and property on their premises. If a tenant notices any violation on the part of the building owner in the form of random storage of material or running faulty fire alarm systems, then he or she should approach Civil Defence for appropriate action against the building owner. He also urged property owners to include conditions in tenancy contracts, and make tenants sign them, in order to prohibit smoking on the balconies.

Colonel Al Naqbi said stricter fire prevention measures were being adopted as part of Ministerial Resolution No 213 of 2017.

‘Priority is to ensure safety’

“We decided to implement these steps in Sharjah in view of the size of our industrial areas,” said Col Al Naqbi. “Our priority is to ensure the safety of all people and maintain a peaceful environment in the emirate of Sharjah, which has a large number of industries,” he said.

“Inspectors from each fire station are carrying out inspections in the areas they cover, to check if the industrial facilities are complying with the fire-safety regulations,” Col Al Naqbi said.

Fire incidence rate drops

He said that implementation of intensive fire-prevention measures were working. “Fire incidence rate has dropped in Sharjah over the past several years and we hope to reduce it further this year.”

According to him, only one errant company has been made to pay for the firefighting charges this year, as against 12 last year.

He said that awareness campaigns had helped reduce fire incidents by seven per cent in the emirate and led to increased safety for buildings, with 175 incidents of fire recorded in the first half of 2021.

What about insurance?

Firms that receive warnings from inspectors regarding inadequate fire-safety measures will have to approach the Civil Defence service centres to prove that the issue on their premises had been rectified. Currently, insurance companies are not allowed to process fire insurance claims by any business establishment without the approval of Civil Defence.

Insurance companies are strictly prohibited from issuing an insurance policy for any building that does not meet the safety regulations. The insurance company must first approach Civil Defence to ascertain a business or commercial establishment’s fire-safety compliance level. Violation of these rules by the insurance company will make it liable to be held responsible in case of any fire-related accident at the business establishment.