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Newsletter 05/2018

Construction/Property Updates | Updated UAE Fire & Life Safety Code 2017


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The implication of UAE Fire & Life Safety Code – 2017

It’s not enough to be up to date, you have to be up to tomorrow”- David Ben-Gurion.

The United Arab Emirates has been at the forefront of innovation and modernization when it comes to world-class architecture. New groundbreaking, but complex building design sees the light of day on a consistent basis here in UAE. And the latest 2017 revision of UAE Fire & Life Safety Code has been designed not only to cope up the current Fire Safety challenges but to be a footstep ahead and prepared for tomorrow. The new code which is also cost-effective and is a refresh of the 2011 variant, stays informed concerning the most recent urban advancements, locally and globally.

The revised code brings more clarity to designers and Fire Safety professionals in terms of understanding the intent and implication of code requirements. Dubai Civil Defence is one of the most experienced in high-rise fire fighting worldwide and driving innovations. One of the key changes is the new building classification “super-highrise” for buildings taller than 90 meters. This separates tall and super-tall buildings. There are many additional requirements for super-highrise buildings, for instance, upscaled fire vehicle access and fire fighting lift lobby requirement. Elevator evacuation has been permitted in the new revision and the requirement for a refuge area is detailed.

Studies from recent fire incidents have been the biggest driving force in the code revision. There have been many fatal fires in the recent past in high-rise buildings potentially contributed due to external wall cladding and facades such, as The Address Downtown Dubai Fire (2015), Torch Tower Fire, Dubai (2015), Wooshin Golden Suites, South Korea (2010), Mermoz Tower, France (2012) and most recent one was Grenfell Tower Fire, London (2017) which took numerous lives. Hence, another important update in the revised code aims to raise the standard for supplement materials and reduce the cladding’s combustibility and flame spread, which also requires a combination of small-scale and full-scale fire testing ensuring the safest cladding in the world is used in UAE.

It is also critical for property managers and owners to take necessary steps that accentuates the safeguards that keep the fire from starting. The progressive inclusion in the code is the “Responsibilities of Stakeholders” which clearly identifies the accountabilities and responsibilities of owners, consultants, engineers, contractors, developers, House of Expertise, Laboratories, etc. in a full new chapter.

Building construction type classification has also harmonised with NFPA 5000 building construction type while continuing the most onerous requirements. Many new chapters have been included in the new code which is either occupancy specific or system specific. New chapters include Marinas (Chapter 20), Emergency Evacuation Plan and Evacuation Procedures (Chapter 19), Smart Monitoring Systems (Chapter 16), Utility Occupancies (Chapter 14) and Flammable & Combustible Liquid Usage (Chapter 13).

In conclusion, UAE Fire and Life Safety Code (2017) is one of the most restrictive, fire safe and cost-effective codes in the world. By following best practices in line with the international standards, the UAE Fire and Life Safety Code is providing owners, residents, insurers and fire safety professionals with improved comfort regarding the fire safety and integrity of buildings.

Design Confidence provides expert and comprehensive Building Regulatory and Engineering services to the Construction Industry, within Australia, the Middle East, Africa and India, offering specialised services in key areas from concept design through to the completion of construction.

For more information, visit their website:

Design Confidence is a member of the ABCD.

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