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Sun 1 Apr 2007 01:44 PM

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Enforcing best practice fire solutions

It seems the Middle East's addiction to developing tall buildings is far from over with rumours of Al Nakheel's Al Burj skyscraper to tower over 1 kilometre.

It seems the Middle East's addiction to developing tall buildings is far from over with rumours of Al Nakheel's Al Burj skyscraper to tower over 1 kilometre.

A bit of internal competition never hurt anyone, but these days, it seems having the title of ‘world's tallest building' gains more coverage than Helen Mirren winning the Oscar for best actress.

Last month saw another blazing fire break out on a construction site. Even though FMs don't get involved in the fire safety until the building has been handed over, neighboring tower blocks had to be evacuated in case the fire spread.

As outlined in our


View Point

feature this month, developers need to remember it is the FMs who will have to deal with the people panic if a fire breaks out on the 200th floor - it's not an easy task.

Fact. The larger the building, the more complicated the evacuation process can get. The higher you are, the longer it will take you to ‘calmly' rush down the fire escape. ‘Calmly'? If the fire alarm sounds, do you really think everyone will stay calm and leave the building in an orderly fashion? I don't think so.

It is vital that FMs are given the most comprehensive fire safety package available. I'm not just talking about seeing a couple of fire extinguishers knocking about a building, it's what goes on behind the scenes that's most important - the fire system solution, how fast the sprinklers will turn on and careful and well thought out evacuation procedures.

It is true that you will never know how an evacuation will turn out until it actually happens. But you can certainly prepare for one and do regular fire drills to keep tenants aware of the procedures they should be following should a fire break out.

Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you entered a building for the first time and was given the basic fire safety information should a fire break out during your time there? In my seven months living in Dubai and the countless meetings I have had in many different buildings, I can honestly say that only one company has told me what to do in the event of a fire.

That company was Compass and it was the CEO, Andy Furlong, who briefed me immediately after I had introduced myself. I use Compass as a positive example in the hope that others will adopt the same approach and train their staff to brief their visitors on fire evacuation procedures.

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