Helicopters spraying jets of water will be used to fight fires in Dubai's high-rise buildings from the middle of next year.

Dubai will be the first city in the UAE to adopt airborne firefighting techniques, and the UAE will reportedly be the third country after Holland and Canada to use helicopters to douse blazes.

The Dubai Civil Defence will be flying helicopters to fight fires on the orders of General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and UAE Minister of Defence.

Colonel Rashid Thani Al Matroushi, Director of Dubai Civil Defence, announced the initiative yesterday during the 2nd Security and Safety Middle East 2005 Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi.

Colonel Al Matroushi said helicopters were the best way to fight fires in high-rise buildings that could not be easily accessed by other means.

The Civil Defence will initially have two fire-fighting helicopters, which will be under Dubai Police's Air Wing.

"There is a device that works as a water sprinkler that gets installed in the helicopter when a report of fire is received," Colonel Al Matroushi told Gulf News.

"These devices are installed while heating up the engine," he said.

The helicopters will also help rescue people from buildings.

Upon receiving a fire report, the helicopter will move to the scene within minutes. It can take water from the sea, swimming pools, or any other available resource.

"There is no danger in using these helicopters to put out fire because that is their job. They are meant to lift and put down things.

"If the water finishes, the helicopter can go back to fill up the tank and come back in two minutes," Colonel Al Matroushi said.

The water-spraying unit will be brought from Germany, while the helicopters will be Italian Agusta 109s.