Surge in sales of fire-resistant materials

(DENNIS B MALLARI)

Sales of fire-resistant construction materials soared to a reported Dh150 million last year, buoyed by huge demand from developers and contractors keen on taking precautionary measures.

There is a growing awareness in the construction industry of the importance of fire safety and the market for fire-retardant materials is expected to grow even more during this year.

Danube, a Dubai-based dealer in construction materials, said due to strong demand it is estimating an increase of more than 50 per cent in the sale of its fire-resistant materials in 2008.

The firm said its turnover of fire-retardant products last year was Dh18m to Dh20m. Among its fire-retardant products are door cores, medium density fibreboard, calcium silicate and magnesium silicate boards, plywood, hardware and glues.

The figures come just days after two major fires in the UAE – one that gutted warehouses in the Port Zayed area of Abu Dhabi, and another late last week on the upper floors of the under-construction Salam Tower, off Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai.

Rizwan Sajan, chairman of Danube Building Materials, said: "The awareness level is increasing in the industry. We are expecting sales of fire-resistant products to rise more than Dh30m during 2008."

A senior official of Gulf International Trading Group (GITG), a Sharjah-based distributor of fire-retardant products throughout the Middle East, told Emirates Business that sales reached Dh85m within months after it launched a fire-resistant product called Aluflam in September last year.

Aluflam uses an aluminum-profiled fire-resistant glazing system – a material that can resist flames up to 1,000C and can prevent the blaze from spreading for up to 120 minutes.

Khalid Al Midfa, chairman of GITG, said there was a growing awareness among contractors and developers on the use of fire safety materials, but more needed to be done.

"Fire safety and prevention has become a topic of great concern after the recent spate of fires in Dubai, especially the Dubai Internet City fire that took place on Wednesday, the Al Quoz fireworks warehouse disaster, the gutting of Naif Souq and The Palm Jumeirah fire that claimed the lives of two firefighters," he said.

"Considering how quickly fires can spread and the tremendous damage they can cause in a small area, installing fireproof doors and windows, and making sure regular maintenance is carried out on electrical systems could really make a difference in minimising damage," he said.

GITG is in advanced talks with a leading government-owned data-protection unit to secure its building with fire-resistant materials.

"For the unit, fire resistance is very crucial as any accident can destroy sensitive and extensive data. We will not only protect the building with fire resistant doors but even the walls and partitions will be fire proof. This project alone is worth more than Dh14m," said Midfa.

"Fire-proof doors and window frames can contain fires for up to two hours, giving firefighters enough time to bring a blaze under control without worrying about it spreading."

 

The numbers

Dh150: In millions was the reported sale of fire-proof construction material in 2007

Dh30: In millions is the sale of fire-resistant material expected by Danube in 2008

1,000: Degrees centigrade is the temperature that Aluflam can withstand

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