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Soon Sharjah will have the tallest vehicle ladder - at 54 feet - in the UAE for fighting fires Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Swifter response, latest technology and intensive safety awareness campaigns by Sharjah Civil Defence have significantly reduced both the severity and incidence of fires in the emirate, a top official has said.

Colonel Sami Khamis Al Naqbi

In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Colonel Sami Khamis Al Naqbi, director-general of Sharjah Civil Defence, outlined how the department is developing its own innovative firefighting solutions as well as expanding the capacity of fire stations and fleet vehicles.

The proactive steps have also led to a faster average response time of 4.73 minutes so far this year compared to 4.86 minutes last year, he said.

It means Sharjah Civil Defence has responded to emergencies faster than what standard protocol demands, Col Al Naqbi pointed out. The department is striving to achieve the “fastest possible” response time to reports of fire by increasing the number of fire stations in the emirate’s vital areas. For 2022, Sharjah Civil Defence has set a targeted response time of four minutes.

Zero fatalities

The director-general said most of the 73 incidents recorded since the beginning of this year until end of October were classified as minor, without any deaths due to fire.

“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 faster response,” said Col Al Naqbi.

More fire stations

Currently, there are 15 Civil Defence stations in the emirate, including four ‘points’ (smaller operating units). There are four stations in the central region, and four in the Eastern Region.

Meanwhile there are six stations in main Sharjah city and one in the Industrial Area. Another fire station will be opened in Al Raqeeba area this year and a new one will be built in Khor Fakkan.

The fire station in the industrial zone will start operations by the beginning of 2023 to serve the areas of Al Saja, Al Rahmaniyah and Emirates Road.

New cadres and fleet

As the additional fire stations open, they will be manned by new cadres. Also, new fire vehicles (tankers) will join the fleet. It includes a vehicle with the tallest (54 feet) fire ladder in the UAE, Col Al Naqbi said. The vehicle will arrive in Sharjah by the beginning of 2023.

Additionally, eight first responder vehicles will join the fleet besides new rescue devices and equipment.

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The Civil Defence fleet in front of the House of Wisdom in Sharjah Image Credit: Supplied

Made in Sharjah

Sharjah Civil Defence meanwhile has two innovative products registered under intellectual property rights - Training with VR (virtual reality) and a Thermal Suit with sensor, making it the only department at the emirate-level in UAE to have achieved this, the director-general said.

Sharjah Civil Defence has also installed around 8,000 devices in houses and residential buildings to detect smoke and a similar number of devices in commercial and industrial establishments.

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Heightened awareness

Sharjah Civil Defence had carried out major awareness campaigns in the field as well as online since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to educate residents, business owners and employees about the importance of implementing fire-safety procedures.

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Business owners and workers are more aware now about fire safety, thanks to awareness drives and inspections Image Credit: Supplied

Col Al Naqbi also stressed on the importance of spreading the culture of fire prevention by involving community members and media outlets, including social media.