Dubai: Fire safety in UAE buildings will get a boost with Dubai Municipality planning to set up its own laboratory to test building materials and products for fire resistance.

The civic body is in discussions with Dubai Civil Defence to finalise the establishment of the new laboratory, Khalid Mohammad Sherif Al Awadi, assistant director-general for Health, Safety and Environment Control, said on Thursday.

Once operational, the fire-testing lab, which will work under the Dubai Central Laboratory (DCL) of Dubai Municipality, will be used by the civil defence authorities in the country to test and certify fire resistance of building materials and fire safety products and systems, said Amin Ahmad Mohammad, director of DCL.

Ali Ahmad Elian, head of Engineering Materials Laboratory Section at DCL, said the proposed lab’s building has been constructed in Al Warsan area and it is expected to be equipped for operations by the end of next year.

“It will be the first government facility in the UAE to test and certify building materials and products for fire safety,” Elian told Gulf News.

He said the authorities have so far been depending on some overseas laboratories and two private labs in Dubai. “We had very limited resources to do fire testing at DCL.”

He pointed out that the lab will facilitate the implementation of the updated fire safety code that is expected soon.

The fire safety code was revised following several fire accidents including the New Year Eve’s blaze at The Address Hotel minutes before the New Year fireworks display at neighbouring Burj Khalifa.

Officials said the updated fire code is expected to be implemented by the civil defence authorities soon. The code stipulates strict and sustainable fire-resistant standards and requirements for building materials and the lab will help ensure that they are compliant.

“Fire resistance of cladding, thermal insulation materials, concrete blocks, and other products will be tested at the lab. Based on the results, civil defence will approve and certify them. In the later stages, fire protection systems like fire alarms and sprinklers will also be tested.

“Tests will be conducted to see how long the building materials can stand fires. The process will include various equipment, furnaces, and walls to simulate fire accidents and that is why the lab has been located away from the city,” he explained.

Officials said the materials will also be tested for their sustainability and compliance with the green building standards stipulated by the municipality.

They spoke after a press conference held to announce the 4th International Conference on Quality Assurance for Sustainable Construction Materials. The conference will be held organised by Dubai Municipality at Emirates Towers Hotel on December 14 and 15.

Al Awadi said the focus of the conference this year is on the role of quality building materials in achieving higher standards of sustainability and safety in buildings and infrastructure.

The conference programme also includes a workshop conducted by ASTM International, an international standards development organisation, on the extent of fire resistance of external coating products and workshops on testing of green building products, and the development of 3D concrete printing presented by engineers of DCL.