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Wed 27 Aug 2008 03:15 PM

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Burning issue

UAE lacks adequate fire response training facilities.

The UAE is currently suffering from a shortage of quality fire training facilities, according to the managing director of Special Risks – a company who provides specialist health and safety, and fire fighting equipment, training and personnel.

Jacques Du Plessis said that the company had noted with “interest and surprise” the current shortage of training resources, also calling for more conformity and standardisation in the industry for fire fighting.

“Something that Special Risks has noticed with interest and surprise in the UAE is the lack of international quality oil and gas training facilities, specifically for fire fighting. It is quite astonishing considering that the UAE is the fifth largest oil exporter, yet we still have not found a facility where we can go locally to train, through our partnerships with people like Williams,” said Du Plessis.

Due to the shortage, Special Risks and partner Williams, a fire fighting and hazard control firm, have both seen an increase in demand for the provision of trained and experienced fire personnel at all levels. He also pointed out that although health and safety prevention standards were generally quite high, there is currently no set of established fire fighting standards in the Middle East.

“On the fire fighting side there is not so much international standards per se but there are accepted industry standards, and I think that is one of the main issues – working towards an expected, internationally benchmarked standard that is applicable to the GCC area,” he said.

“Most of the companies do everything in their power from a prevention point of view, with early warning systems, immediate response, and fixed installations, but clearly there will be instances when something does go wrong,” said Du Plessis.

“The main thing is to ensure that there are personnel that respond to such instances, and that they are well trained and experienced so they can make the right strategic and tactical decisions.”

Special Risks is relatively new to the region, with roughly eight months of formal trading and an office in Abu Dhabi and Qatar. “Special Risks and Williams are also investigating the possibility of creating a response hub out of Abu Dhabi that can back up the first fire response teams,” Du Plessis also revealed.

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