Urgent Need for Fire Secure Skyscrapers


Dubai has been at the forefront of high rise and tall building construction and the recent launch of the world’s tallest hotel – Gevora Hotel – is yet another feather in the cap for the Emirate that is home to some of the world’s iconic supertall structures. Offering a panoramic view of the city and adoring the city skyline, these high-rise structures are indicative of Dubai’s evolution and growth as the city of the future.

With the construction of these super tall structures, the focus has also been on the safety features from a structural and design point of view and fire safety in particular has gained tremendous significance with the fire that hit the 86-storey The Marina Torch or also commonly known as Dubai Torch Tower last year. There have been a few fire incidents in high rise buildings in the region that have only led to a loss of infrastructure.

These tragedies have stressed upon the importance of looking into fire safety from the inception of any construction. Most skyscrapers use combustible cladding to boost the exterior structure which is however alleged to increase the intensity and spread fire faster. Peter Stephenson, Associate Director, BuroHappold Engineering, a speaker at the upcoming Smart Skyscrapers Summit said, “When considering the overarching fire safety design of tall buildings, the fire protection of the elements of structure and building envelope is a key consideration. Many projects in the Middle East may necessitate the adoption of a fire engineered approach as opposed to strictly following the recommendations of prescriptive code guidance to ensure an optimum design. To satisfy all projects is a challenging scenario and introducing a robust and collaborative approach to allow innovative design is becoming a popular methodology in the Middle East.”

Dubai Civil Defense has taken extra measures in implementing its procedures and reducing its response time. They have also revised the fire and safety code along with a strict enforcement of these regulations, the most important of which being the use of fire resistant cladding and replacement of old cladding at regular intervals to ensure safety is maintained. In fact, Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) has already started the process of replacing non-fire-resistant building facades across the Emirate of Dubai.

Furthermore, Dubai Municipality and Dubai Civil Defense are in dialogues to establish a fire testing laboratory, to test and approve of building materials, fire equipments and systems. In light of this, the 5th Annual Smart Skyscrapers Summit being held on 23 and 24 April 2018 at the Roda Al Bustan Hotel, Dubai, will cover the topic of fire safety in a panel discussion featuring 6 industry experts.


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