Dubai: There is no link between fire incidents and the summer heat, a fire and arson expert at Dubai Police said.
Ahmad Mohammad Ahmad, Head of the Forensics and Mechanical Engineering Department at the General Department of Forensic Science and Criminology of Dubai Police, said that the average number of fire incidents is the same regardless of season.
“There is no increase in fire incidents in general, but we see that during the summer, fires caused by air-conditioning units increase, but the overall number is the same,” he said.
In 2015, up until August 17, the department inspected 22 warehouse fires in Dubai of which 12 incidents took place between January and May — before the start of the summer season.
Also, in the first seven months of 2015, the department looked into 186 incidents of cars catching fire. “One third of all fire incidents we inspect are car fires,” he said.
January saw the highest number of car fires with 34 incidents, followed by March with 33 and May came in third with 32 incidents.
He said that most car fires are caused by mechanical faults, which are usually due to bad repair jobs.
“Sometimes people fix their cars at cheap workshops, or opt for used parts or non-original parts, which do not fit [the specifications] and need tweaking; this tweaking can pose a fire risk. Car modifications, especially installing extra lighting or anything involving electric wires, can become a fire hazard,” Ahmad said.
He added that people think they are saving money this way, but they could lose their car completely if it catches fire.
“There were incidents of truck tyres catching fire too, which is usually caused by overuse and a lack of maintenance [of the tyres] and the brake system,” he said,
Ahmad said that among the various incidents of fires in warehouses, there was however not a single aspect that stood out as a common cause of the fires they inspected.
“Some were caused by incorrect storage or disposal of chemical materials — which are supposed to be stored in air-conditioned warehouses,” he said.
Other causes included electrical extensions and wires in the warehouse. |[People] drag boxes and trolleys over these wires, which are on the ground, and this can create loose connections, which can create heat which in turn can cause fires due to heat build-up.”
The lack of organisation and haphazard storage of items in those warehouses are also a problem, Ahmad said.
“When a fire breaks out, the Civil Defence team sometimes finds it hard to reach the source of the fire because of boxes or items blocking their way, and so they have to move the items or find other ways to get to the source, making their job more difficult and causing delays.”
Some warehouse owners also add extra levels or floors to the warehouse without taking the required approval from the Civil Defence and municipality, Ahmad said. “These extra floors sometime are in violation of safety regulations and can endanger the firefighters’ lives when putting out a fire.”