Façade event will see experts, government officials turn spotlight on new fire safety codes
August 16, 2016: Construction industry experts and government officials assembling in Dubai next month will tackle the threat of fires in the region, an issue highlighted by recent blazes in high-rise towers.
The latest statistics, published this month by Guardian Wealth Management, a global financial planning company, claim that up to 80 percent of expatriate residents living in Dubai are not protected against property fire.
In the build-up to the Windows, Doors & Façades Event taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre from 18 – 20 September, the latest fire safety circular issued by Dubai Municipality looks set to change the face of the construction industry.
That and the new fire safety codes, underlining the need for the right building façade materials to ensure heightened safety and fire prevention, will be top of the agenda for international consultants, government officials, high-profile construction engineers at the Middle East Façades Summit, the conference taking place alongside the first day of the exhibition.
Andy Dean, Head of Façades for the Middle East at WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, a global engineering and design firm, believes that UAE high-rise buildings present several unique challenges, including complex evacuation strategies, fire department accessibility, smoke movement and fire control.
Speaking ahead of his participation in the Summit, he said: “The much-anticipated update to the country-specific UAE Fire and Life Safety code has been introduced and includes a significantly enhanced section on façade materials. Since its original introduction in 2012, the market has consequently learned and absorbed this information and, at the very least, an awareness of the need for the control of fire performance has become self-evident, which is the first step in any learning process.”
A panel discussion, ‘Fire safety in design – translating policy into practice’, featuring Dean alongside David O’Riley, Brittania International; and moderated by Christopher Seymour from Mott MacDonald, will focus on the effective practices for ensuring highest safety standards of new construction projects as well as the ways existing buildings can be brought up to code.
Dean added: “The design challenge here isn’t innovation in safety, but in using robust and verified methods of evaluating new and innovative buildings, construction materials and techniques. However, tools such as building information modelling (BIM) and parametric modelling allow us to identify problems before construction starts and, most importantly, provide us with opportunities to use cutting edge methodologies and materials while ensuring safety measures are met.”
In 2012, 70% of the UAE high-rise buildings were estimated to have utilised flammable panelling, but Dean believes the use of such materials has dropped significantly since; thanks mainly to the introduction of the UAE code.
“A great deal has changed and materials going onto new buildings are now fundamentally different as a result,” he said. “Crucially, developers have started looking at their existing building stock as well as new design and this is the next important step the entire construction industry must take.”
The Summit will host three separate sessions dedicated to fire and safety in building design, including a panel discussion focusing on the implementation of most recent UAE Fire and Life Safety Code of Practice updates and the ways they can be implemented.
Muhammed Kazi, Exhibition Director, said: “With the recent fire incidents in high-rise towers throughout the GCC, buildings safety and fire prevention is more important than ever and the Summit will address that. Its attendees will have the unique opportunity to learn from the expert speakers and government officials what guidelines are in place to ensure building safety and how the recent policies will translate into practice.”
A panel discussion assessing most common errors in design and approaches to maximize quality, safety, and building integrity will follow, and the one-day conference will close with a presentation of a project in Beirut designed by the late Zaha Hadid, featuring an innovative façade whilst adhering to highest levels of fire safety in materials selection.