Emirati firefighter 'suffered respiratory failure' after hotel blaze

Firefighter said to have contracted lung infection before the fire; hotel cladding reportedly not tested for 'flammability'
Emirati firefighter 'suffered respiratory failure' after hotel blaze
Inside the Address Hotel lobby in Downtown Dubai after the fire had been extinguished. (Photo courtesy of Dubai Media Office)
By Staff writer
Wed 13 Jan 2016 02:01 PM

An Emirati firefighter who helped to extinguish the blaze at The Address Downtown hotel on New Year’s Eve is reportedly in a critical condition in hospital but Dubai authorities have denied this is a result of the fire.

Twenty-nine-year-old Hasan Ibrahim Al Balooshi is suffering respiratory failure caused by a lung infection, according to The National, and is in an induced coma at City Hospital in Dubai.

Al Balooshi was part of the recovery team that worked for four days after the fire broke out at the hotel on December 31.

He was taken to hospital on January 8 after coughing blood and reportedly had already contracted a virus that led to an acute lung infection.

However, he ignored an incessant cough and other symptoms that his family presumed were the result of the fire.

Al Balooshi’s brother told the newspaper: “The medical report shows that the respiratory failure was caused by a virus that he might have contracted before the fire that got aggravated.

“It didn’t matter to him if he was feeling ill. All he cared about was saving lives, and he did, and we are proud of him.”

The brother added: “We were all alarmed when he started coughing blood so we rushed him to hospital.

“The doctors said that his lungs were functioning at 90 percent capacity. He is [now] completely reliant on the ventilators and oxygen therapy.

“The doctors are monitoring him. He’s been like that since Friday. We pray that he’ll be able to breathe normally again.”

Dubai Civil Defence (DCD) commander in chief, Major General Jassim Al Marzouqi, and other officials, have reportedly visited Al Balooshi in hospital and extended well wishes to his family and appreciation for his service. DCD has denied his condition was related to the fire.

The National also reported on Tuesday that a fire test conducted in 2007 on the exterior wall panels used on The Address Downtown was “meaningless” as it did not test flammability.

The unnamed engineer, who supervised the US-led test but has since left the company, claims the test measured fire “containment”, not “flammability” – which would have provided an indication of how quickly a fire would spread.

“This product should have been tested and should have passed the NFPA 285 test to be considered as an exterior facade material on a high rise building,” he was quoted as saying.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is still ongoing with a report due by the end of the month.

On Tuesday DCD announced a major review of all buildings in the UAE to assess the fire safety risk they pose.

Building owners could be liable for costly upgrades following the review, according to Lt. Col. Jamal Ahmed Ibrahim, director of preventive safety at DCD.

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