Afridi ... balance is key.

Afridi ... balance is key.

Building designers tackle fire safety

July 2015

The Safety Design in Buildings Conference held in Bahrain has underlined the importance of fire control regulations and safe design in buildings in reducing damage to property and loss of lives.

Construction industry experts came together at the conference held at the Intercontinental Bahrain Hotel on June 8 to debate fire safety standards and practices in the built environment. The event brought architects, fire consultants, testing experts and the general directorate of Bahrain Civil Defence together to provide a platform for trends and development in the battle against fire.

The Safety Design in Buildings Bahrain Conference was the third of seven legs
this year.

Organised by Sesam Business Consultants and sponsored by Intersec, the world’s largest trade show for the security, safety, and fire protection industries, the conference series forms a GCC-wide initiative to debate and highlight the current standards of safety and security in buildings in the region as well as to promote a dialogue between regional industry professionals and international experts.

Highlighting the importance of efficient entrance and exit systems, Altaf Afridi, the UAE-based regional marketing director – Mena (Middle East and North Africa) of Dorma Gulf Door Controls and head of project management team, said: “Architectural openings are more about life safety than egress and fire rating only. The automatic and manual revolving, sliding or swing door can be hazardous for users unless properly designed as per standards and codes. This is more so when we deal with frameless glass assemblies and the user group includes disabled, elderly people and children. Also, adding security hardware may cause safety issues for doors.”

While taking into account these factors, these doors also need to be aesthetic, given their prominence in projects and hence need to strike the right balance, he added.

The conferences feature a high-powered panel of international safety and design experts investigating fire safety considerations for malls and other high occupancy buildings in the region with a view to strategy planning, material and safety system requirements. It featured presentations and panel discussions on key topics such as: fire safety design for malls; fire engineering design approaches; fire and life safety aspects emergency planning; aligning safety, security and aesthetics in architectural openings; and façade safety – glass selection.

Supported by the Chartered Institute of Buildings (CIOB), the Society of Facade Engineering (CIBSE) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM International), the conferences target architects, engineers, regulators and related professionals of the construction and contracting industry.

After Bahrain, the conference series moves to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) in October, Cairo (Egypt) in November, and Muscat (Oman) in December.

Meanwhile, Intersec is now planning to introduce a pavilion on Safety Design in Buildings when it opens next year in Dubai, UAE.

“Given the importance of ensuring that buildings and structures around the region are in compliance with the safety codes laid down by the authorities, it is crucial to create awareness of the vital role these safety measures play in protecting life and property,” said Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Messe Frankfurt Middle East, the organiser of Intersec expo. “With this in mind, we are introducing the Safety Design in Buildings Pavilion at Intersec 2016, which will have a special focus on the life safety design, building construction, fire protection, fire-rated building materials, fire alarm and smoke ventilation systems.”

The 18th edition of Intersec will take place from January 17 to 19, 2016 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre. In 2015, the dedicated three-day event featured 1,235 exhibitors from 52 countries, and attracted 27,303 trade visitors from 118 countries.

“The recent fire that forced the evacuation of the prestigious Torch Tower in Dubai has underlined the importance of fire control regulations and safe design in buildings in reducing damage to property and loss of lives,” said a spokesman for Messe Frankfurt. “Prompt action on the part of the emergency services and adherence to safety codes laid down by civil authorities ensured that damages in this particular incident was reduced to a minimum.”

With 220 residential building fires reported across the UAE in 2014, raising awareness about fire safety measures and safety design in buildings in compliance with existing safety codes takes high priority among both local authorities and developers across the region, he added.

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