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Most UAE fires start in the kitchen and are caused by negligence, reveals 999 Magazine

United Arab Emirates: Sunday, July 15 - 2012 @ 11:28

To address this issue, the General Command of Civil Defence carried out the first campaign in the world for Families’ Safety at Homes, which was launched for six months in all the Emirates by specialised Civil Defence teams, aimed at spreading preventive awareness among families.

“The Families’ Safety at Homes campaign included visits to 206,490 houses across different emirates, out of the UAE’s total 336,322 houses, or 61.4% of all UAE houses. During the campaign, Civil Defence distributed 1.3 million printed materials to the families, with an average of one brochure for every six people of the UAE’s population,” Major General Al Matroushi, said in an interview with the official English monthly magazine of the Ministry of Interior.

A number of blazes in Doha, Manama, Sharjah and Dubai kept firefighters busy this summer. While some of the flames were doused without major damage to property, some others were tragic, resulting in unfortunate loss of lives and property worth millions of dollars.

Lt. Colonel Awadh Saleh Al Kindi, Editor-in-Chief of 999, said: “A recent spate of fire incidents in the UAE and across the Gulf has exposed alarming issues in the fire-safety mechanism of the GCC nations, prompting calls for an overhaul of safety standards, harsh penalties for violators, and awareness drives for the public. Most tragically, in most cases, it was individual or collective negligence that was responsible for the start of the blaze, which was then aggravated due to inflammable material in the vicinity, with the spark turning into a tragedy due to the general public’s lack of awareness and readiness in dealing with the incident.”

Fire safety has been a top priority for authorities, and UAE Civil Defence has stepped up efforts to educate people on fire prevention and response.

Last year, UAE Civil Defence carried out a nationwide door-to-door campaign, educating residents on fire safety. Residents were also warned not to leave oil in pans on the cooking hub, not to overload electrical connections and to check water heaters.

The ultimate aim of the campaign is to cut down reaction time from the current 5-7 minutes to zero minutes by turning householders and commercial workers into the first line of fire-fighters.

Following reports on the risk of non-fire-rated cladding in residential high-rises, there are moves to revise the UAE Fire and Life Safety Code in order to prohibit such cladding panels on tower blocks.

“Due to its strategic importance, Civil Defence teams continue to implement the safety campaign in industrial areas all over the country,” said Major General Al Matroushi.

“The campaign, which began on March 20, 2012, and ended on June 20, 2012, included visits and inspections of 29,057 factories, warehouses and workers’ accommodations, removal of irregularities in 9,711 facilities and buildings, beginning of training of 63,745 workers and employees on safety skills, distributing 84,166 printed guidelines of fire safety in industrial areas during the first two months of the campaign, in which 1.15 million employees are being targeted,” he said.

Moreover, within the framework of the Civil Defence’s vision and strategic objectives for spreading and consolidating the preventive culture and the safety skills against risks, a series of awareness training programmes were carried out in schools, which aimed at inculcating safe behaviour in the minds of children of different age groups.

“The outreach teams in all regional departments of the Civil Defence implement awareness programmes in various government and private facilities and buildings, including evacuation exercises,” he added.

Among the steps outlined by the magazine, it provides a list of dos and don’ts for household fire safety:

• Use only approved and high-quality electrical devices
• Windows should not have bars, so they can be used as emergency exits
• Homes should have more than one emergency exit and an external escape ladder
• Keep gas cylinders in well-ventilated closed cabinets, away from direct sunlight or inflammable materials
• The kitchen, children’s rooms, bathrooms, hallways and storerooms should be equipped with smoke and heat detectors
• The kitchen should be fitted with a gas leakage detector and have a fire blanket
• All internal and external electrical wires must be insulated
• Fire extinguishers should be available in the kitchen and corridors
• Do not smoke in bedrooms
• Do not use barbecue grills or coal heaters in confined places
• Make an action plan to teach family members and house staff what to do during a fire
• See that stairways are fitted with safety rails and are kept clear

The special report is published in the July edition of English 999 magazine, a part of the Strategic Plan of the Ministry of the Interior to provide media coverage for the activities and efforts of the ministry and Abu Dhabi Police. It also aims to encourage the public to contribute to the reduction of crime and enhancement of safety in the UAE.

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Sunday, July 15- 2012 @ 11:28 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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