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09 December 2023

Al Qusais most vulnerable to fire mishaps

Residents are advised to keep gas cylinders outside the kitchen. (SUPPLIED)

By VM Sathish

The UAE Civil Defence is conducting a national campaign to spread fire safety awareness and educe fire risks.

A senior official said civil defence is advising family members to avoid smoking in bedrooms or children gathering areas as about 25 per cent of the total fire incidents in the UAE have ccurred due to smoking. 

There has been an improvement in Dubai where the number of fires came down from 595 in 2008 to 486 in 2009 (latest official figures available). In 2009, 28 per cent [156] of the fires occurred in residential buildings - most of them in the month of December.

What you need to do

Terry Johnson, Fire Services Advisor, General Directorate of Dubai Civil Defence, said there is a National Campaign For Families Domestic Safety booklet. “House safety starts with the selection of an ideal design. Provide kitchen with fire blanket and install fire extinguishers  in the kitchen, corridors or other places as needed to fight different types of fire. Never make arbeque or use coal heaters in confined places.”

The most common fire hazards in a house or villa in the kitchen are the cooker, exhaust fan and gas cylinder. Exhaust fan and water heaters in bathrooms, electrical distributor and iron box are other major causes of fires.

The civil defence has detailed instructions about how to handle gas cylinders safely ensure correct connecting hose with suitable length is used to connect the cylinder, keep gas cylinders in well-ventilated closed cabinets away from direct sun or inflammable materials and do not throw or roll the gas cylinders.

Residents are advised to keep gas cylinders outside the kitchen.

While designing a house, make sure that the windows are kept without rails as they could be used as exits during fire emergency and the house should have more than one emergency exit and an external exit ladder.

Kitchens should be provided with minimum one or two smoke and heat esistant doors. 

In addition, the Civil Defence is advising residents to use smoke, heat and voice fire alarm detectors.  Fitting a gas leakage detector in the kitchen would also reduce risk of fire in the buildings.

“Disconnect the laptop socket when you finish.

Do not put it on inflammable materials as it can get heated and cause fire.

Use only approved and high quality electrical devices, equipment and networking. 

Never leave electrical wires un-insulated or run them under the carpet.

Periodical maintenance of electric wires and cables will reduce fire hazards,” the advisory said. All internal and external electrical wires must be rectified promptly, switch off electrical sockets which children could reach and unplug electrical wires from the sockets if not in use.
Train family

There are other tips to ensure family safety during an emergency. 

At least one family member should be trained to awake and evacuate children, old people and people with special needs during an emergency.  Also train family members, especially children, how to escape if there is a fire.  “Make fire action plan to teach family members.

It is also necessary to know the correct usage of a fire extinguisher. In case of gas leakage, immediately evacuate people from the place, turn cooker off after every use and close gas supply source while going to sleep or leaving the place.

“Never use matches to check leakage instead use soap foam.If bubbles appear there is leakage.

Ensure that the gas valve is closed tightly and never attempt to open or close power switches, light the matches or switch on exhaust fan, to avoid explosion.

Close nearby ignition sources like open plug points, allocate the source of leakage and call technician to rectify and open the doors and windows for ventilation.

In case a frying pan gets fire, use dry towel or fire extinguisher to put it out.

Leave the pan remains covered until it gets cold to prevent oxygen from entering and increasing fire. Carefully cover the pan and wear hand gloves to protect it from fire.

Never use water to extinguish a fat pan fire as it would worsen the fire due to fat scattering. Do not catch the burning pan and rush to faucet to extinguish as this will allow the drops of volatile liquid scattering on your body and all over the kitchen.

March is best

Satwa and Qusais Civil Defence Stations received the maximum fire cases report.

Satwa station received 231 fire cases and Qusais 284 cases followed by Al Qouz (133) and Al Barsha Station (113). Most accidents happened in December - 62 accidents and least number in March - 26 fires.

There were two deaths due to fire, 35 injuries (28 minor, 5 medium and 2 major injuries). There were 70 rescue missions conducted by Dubai Civil Defence, seven deaths caused by other accidents and eight injuries due to other accidents (non-fire).