From February 25 till the end of June this year, 719 commercial and residential buildings were visited by Civil Defence inspectors as part of a crackdown on building owners who refuse to comply with fire safety law, said the department.
Of the total, 14 buildings were posted with red stickers declaring them unsafe for not meeting fire code regulations — the names of the buildings and their owners were not made public.
Meanwhile, 502 buildings got cautionary yellow stickers while 203 building got green stickers for adhering to fire safety standards.
The crackdown is meant to spur developers, tower owners and property managers to get their towers in order.
The stickers inform residents that their tower may not be safe and that they should consider relocating to new premises.
Colonel Sami Khamis Al Naqbi, director-general of Sharjah Civil Defence, told Gulf News in an exclusive interview that the campaign was started at the beginning of this year and that inspectors are working round the clock in shifts to inspect fire safety systems in buildings.
The campaign was launched to spur reluctant property owners to take action to bring their buildings up to proper fire code safety standards.
Owners of multi-storey buildings deemed a fire hazard are being warned to take immediate measures to fix the problem or face the consequences, fire department officials said earlier in the week.
Building owners who are found to have not installed or done maintenance of mandatory smoke detectors and water sprinkler systems in multi-storey towers are seeing their buildings slapped with red stickers.
From January 1 till July 8 this year, a total of 1,000 building owners approached the Civil Defence department and were issued fire safety certificates compared to 735 certificates issued during the same period last year.
Also maintenance contracts for fire safety rose during the same period from 1,355 to 1,891.
“All Civil Defence staff including the director-general were in the field checking on the fire safety systems in the towers,” Col Al Naqbi said, noting that the department “will not tolerate those who put people’s lives in danger”.
Col Al Naqbi said owners of buildings which lack safety measures and fire protection equipment may also be referred to the Public Prosecution, if needed.
“The violating companies will face hefty penalties,” Col Al Naqbi said.
The new tougher measures are being adopted as some owners have repeatedly ignored warnings from Civil Defence to ensure that their residential buildings comply with the fire safety codes, he said.
New inspections in all towers will be exhaustive and leave no stone unturned, Col Al Naqbi pledged.
Walk-through tours by inspectors included examination of fire alarm systems, smoke detectors and to seek written confirmation that maintenance companies are carrying out regular maintenance services to ensure all fire safety equipment are up to date and fully operational. Civil Defence inspectors will also ensure buildings meet all requirements for emergency exits, storage, ventilation, and fire equipment such as extinguishers and water hoses.
Tenants can help
Col Al Naqbi urged residents of buildings to improve the safety of their high-rise buildings by avoiding bad habits such as hanging clothes in staircases or blocking stairways or entrances with items such as bicycles or boxes.
Clear exits are critical in moments when tenants need to evacuate safely, he said.
Tenants should also report if any fire protection equipment appears to be not working.
What sticker colour means
Red: Unsafe as the building has not met fire code rules — 14 buildings
Yellow: Cautionary warning as all standards are not met — 502
Green: The building meets fire safety standards — 203
Source: Gulf News