Sharjah Civil Defence steps up fire safety inspections at all towers in new campaign
Sharjah: Owners of multi-storey buildings deemed a fire hazard are being warned to take immediate measures to fix the problem or face the consequences, fire department officials said on Tuesday.
In a new campaign beginning on Sunday, Sharjah Civil Defence is stepping up inspections of commercial and residential towers to ensure fire safety systems are in place to prevent life-threatening blazes.
In the latest response to a rash of tower fires in Sharjah in the recent years which forced the evacuation of hundreds of families, Sharjah Civil Defence said it is launching a new fire prevention campaign this Sunday to spur reluctant owners to take action.
Building owners who are found to have not installed or do maintenance of mandatory smoke detectors and water sprinkler systems in multi-storey towers will be named and shamed, said officials.
Colonel Sami Khamis Al Naqbi, director-general of Sharjah Civil Defence, told Gulf News that the campaign will see inspectors working round the clock in shifts.
“All Civil Defence staff including the director-general will be in the field checking on the fire safety systems in the towers,” he said, noting that Civil Defence “will not tolerate those who put people’s lives in danger”.
Col Al Naqbi said that towers which fail in fire safety inspections will be identified and the Civil Defence officials will stick a certified sticker in Arabic and English on the towers stating that it is a ‘non-safe tower’ to inform residents that their tower may not be safe and that they should consider relocating to new premises.
If residents choose to stay in the building that has failed inspections, they would do so at their own risk, Col Al Naqbi said. The crackdown is meant to spur developers, tower owners and property managers to get their towers in order, he said.
Col Al Naqbi said owners of buildings which lack safety measures and fire protection equipment may also be referred to the Public Prosecution, if needed.
“The violating companies will face hefty penalties,” Col Al Naqbi said.
The new tougher measures are being adopted as some owners have repeatedly ignored warnings from Civil Defence to ensure that their residential buildings comply with the fire safety codes, he said.
New inspections in all towers will be exhaustive and leave no stone unturned, Col Al Naqbi pledged.
Walk-through tours by inspectors will examine the fire alarm systems, smoke detectors and seek written confirmation that maintenance companies are carrying out regular maintenance services to ensure all fire safety equipment is up to date and fully operational. Civil Defence inspectors will also ensure buildings meet all requirements for emergency exits, storage, ventilation, and fire equipment such as extinguishers and water hoses.
Tenants can help
Col Al Naqbi urged residents of buildings to improve the safety of their high-rise buildings by avoiding bad habits such as hanging clothes in staircases or blocking stairways or entrances with items such as bicycles or boxes.
Clear exits are critical in moments when tenants need to evacuate safely, he said.
Tenants should also report if any fire protection equipment appears to be not working.