Dubai to Address Fire Safety in Lab
Officials in Dubai have announced plans for a new laboratory designed to test and certify the fire-resistance of materials and products used in buildings throughout the United Arab Emirates, the Gulf News and other news outlets report.
News of the laboratory follows a series of high-profile fires at high-rise buildings in Dubai, including a swift-moving blaze that engulfed a 63-story luxury hotel on Dec. 31, 2015, injuring 16 people. Experts have pinned blame for such fires on flammable building materials, specifically non-fire-rated aluminum panels. The National estimates that at least 70 percent of buildings in the UAE have facade cladding with a thermoplastic core between aluminum sheets.
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The new lab will be the first governmental facility to test such building products for fire safety, Gulf News reports. So far, the government has had to rely on privately owned testing facilities and overseas operations.
What Will Be Tested?
“Fire resistance of cladding, thermal insulation materials, concrete blocks, and other products will be tested at the lab,” said Ali Ahmad Elian, head of Engineering Materials Laboratory section at Dubai’s Central Laboratory.
“Based on the results, civil defence will approve and certify [the products],” he told the Gulf News. “In the later stages, fire protection systems like fire alarms and sprinklers will also be tested,” he said.
The facility, planned for the Al Warsan area, is scheduled to open at the end of 2017.
“Tests will be conducted to see how long the building materials can stand fires. The process will include various equipment, furnaces, and walls to simulate fire accidents and that is why the lab has been located away from the city,” Elian told the news outlet.
The laboratory will also help officials to determine if building products meet new municipal building codes established in the wake of the fires.
The new codes contain "detail on specifications for cladding, mandatory requirements for owners and clarify responsibilities in construction, maintenance and repair work," according to The National.
The Civil Defence authorities plan to implement the codes “soon,” Gulf News reports.