Common reasons why fires occur in the Middle East

The recent increase in fires across the UAE has brought the importance of fire and life safety to the forefront, highlighting the need for more understanding and awareness of fire prevention and containment throughout the industry. Ongoing preventative measures focused on mitigating the risk of fire and loss of life are often overlooked until the event of a fire, when  it is perhaps too late to repair the damage caused due to the fire not being adequately contained.

Common causes of fires are universal and are as likely to happen in other regions as they are here in the UAE and other GCC countries. These could include onsite hot works, provisions for increased electrical loads not being taken into consideration during the design stage of older buildings, residents disposing of cigarettes over balconies and BBQs or shishas being used. However, the dry heat in the Middle East, particularly during the summer months, and a natural buildup of sand and dust can contribute to the acceleration of a fire, making it critical for fire and life safety systems to be 100 per cent operational in the event of a fire emergency. While it is not always possible to avoid a fire, there are steps contractors and developers should take at the different stages of a project to minimise the risk of technical faults and reduce the risk of a fire accelerating quickly, making it more difficult to contain and control.

These steps include adhering to the relevant country codes and practices and having a robust fire and life safety strategy that outlines factors such as means of egress, fire detection and alarm systems, fire protection systems and fire safety guidelines during construction.

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