Buildings in Dubai are to be subject to stricter safety regulations following the Address Downtown fire on New Year’s Eve, according to Dubai Civil Defence.
The authority said it will be carrying out a fire safety review of every building in the city after concerns were raised about the external cladding on the Address’s façade.
From March, developers will have to employ an outside consultant to oversee the building process from the first foundations until a year after a building’s completion, in line with a new national code.
Building owners will also be required to employ an external company to carry out maintenance work.
Announcing the new measures, the authority’s Lt Colonel Jamal Ahmed Ibrahim said: “Our survey will not just be outside about the cladding, but inside too about the firefighting. The alarm system is more important than the cladding.
“The new code will be issued in March with the latest updates in this field for the UAE. Regarding the external facades, the old code included all the old European standards, but there was a small gap between DCD and the construction of that building.
“The law will stipulate that there must be a consultant in charge who will oversee all these affairs from the very beginning of the design until the last touches, plus one year extra after the finishing of the construction. This will be part of the new regulations taking into account the recommendations and proposals of our own stakeholders, suppliers and manufacturers.”
Property owners whose whose buildings are found to pose a danger to public safety could be forced to pay millions for fireproof upgrades. However, DCD says it will work with stakeholders to find ‘cost-effective’ upgrades.
Lt Col Ibrahim added that up to 20 per cent of Dubai’s buildings carried plastic or polyurethane fillings, called a thermoplastic core, which are sandwiched between aluminium panels.
These have been blamed for spreading fires at both the Al Baker Tower 4 and the Al Tayer Tower in Sharjah in 2012.
He also said that the 34-storey Tamweel tower in Jumeirah Lake Towers, which was gutted by fire in 2012, was forced to re-build all four of its faces and not just the damaged side to comply with its insurer’s demands.
The total cost of the work is understood to be $13.5m and residents are expected to be allowed to return by mid-2016.
Meanwhile, it is understood the Civil Defence Authority will conclude an investigation into the Address fire by the end of the month.