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High risk for Dubai’s high rise residents

High risk for Dubai’s high rise residents

Know what to when there’s a real emergency in your building? Maybe it’s time you did. Precious de Leon, asks who’s responsible for your safety at home and at work.

November 14, 2011 4:21 by

I once heard of an architect friend’s work colleague who never stayed above the 4th floor of any residential building or hotel. He says he did this because the fireman’s ladder does not go any farther than the 4th floor. He valued his life more than the view, he says.

How many of us really think about this safety issue when we daydream of living in penthouses and top floor suites? Hotels even charge us a premium for the high rise views but it never comes with clauses for safety in case of fire or natural disasters.

Nobody never wants to think about that, especially not while they’re on vacation. But what about safety at home? As this Emirates 24/7 article points out, residents living in higher floors are not aware of what to do in a worst-case scenario.

There have been only four instances I can remember that I have had to use the fire escape in an emergency situation in the UAE.

The first instance was in a four-story building in Dubai. My office was on the second floor and the fire was on the fourth. The next two were in Sharjah: one was for an earthquake and the other was for a fire in the garbage shoot. For the former, I had to go down from the sixth floor and the latter forced me to climb down from the 24th floor of a 26-storey building. The latest one was about three years ago in Kipp’s previous office in Dubai Media City. I went down to the lobby from the 19th floor only to find out that the alarm was triggered by someone in the 28-storey building smoking in the fire escape.

In all four cases, people vacated the building using the fire escape.

But there have been times when the fire alarm went off and most of the people in the office didn’t budge. We all just assumed it was a false alarm, because it often was. So what happens when it becomes the real deal?

There are two issues with getting people more aware about safety hazards of living and working in a high-rise building. First, it’s not legally mandatory for building developers or owners to create an emergency evacuation plan for their tenants. Secondly, can you imagine how much tougher of a sell it would be to show a prospective property buyer or renter the amazing view and then hand them a thick pamphlet about the evacuation plan in case of fire. It’s not exactly a deal closer, is it?

Of course we can’t go around being overly cautious to a point of paranoia. But it is a wonder why society has come a long way with creating skyscrapers that seemingly reach for the heavens but no real means of safety or rescue for those who live at the top.

I hardly think the solution is to keep all buildings no higher than four storeys. High rise buildings, after all, are an efficient use of space. But shouldn’t even the most basic safety programs progress as much as our feats in construction?

Maybe some arms need to be twisted to get any kind of safety regulation for evacuation plans. Who do you think should be responsible for this? Is it the government? Is it the building owners? Or is it on the tenants to get together and come up with a plan?

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  1. Ronman on November 15, 2011 8:19 am

    Me thinks Kipp should up its editing skills, this article is full of mistakes people…. MS word autocorrect should have picked up on most of them? did you type this on a smart phone? common…

    as for the subject, i avoid high floors like the plague, there are a number of reasons why fourth or 5th are the most i would go up to. fire is only one of them…a power outage is another.

  2. p.deleon on November 15, 2011 11:08 am

    Thanks Ronman! The clowns in editing have been properly reprimanded. Their squishy red noses and multi-coloured afros have been taken away for dropping the ball on this one…

    On the subject of buildings, we have to say, the Kipp team is glad our new offices are now on the 2nd floor. Power outages, earthquakes and fires are less of a worry now.

    Keep Kipping!

  3. Alexandre Tichit on November 15, 2011 3:02 pm

    Without pointing mistypings :o)

    Most of this article raise a very important point on architecture and urbanism : Do we always manage to prevent worth case scenario?

    No we sure do not, because on a statistical point of vue, the “Case” has only a very few chance to show up, but experience tells us that this case always happens” once” somewhere, it is just a matter of time….

    Shall architects and other concerned personal be more civil responsible ? Yes but at what cost, and for what benefice.

    If you try design a Skyscraper with 100% safety exit solutions… you will fail there is no 100% in this life.
    Therefore it is not a solution to accept that real estate promoters and architects (to name a few) could completely avoid the point of security.
    And in most country i know, they do not, because laws (this what they are made for) are more and more restrictive on security conditions in order to get a construction license. (especially for constructions receiving public).

    Since now many years, The fire departments are very closely involved in the process, and they even have the right to refuse a license or delay an opening until the place is conform.

    This is good, even if it raises the price of constructions and exploitations, but there is no way we could avoid the risk… Risk is part of the process of living.

    So far, living only beneath the 4th flour of a building is a very funny behavior, because if you really want to live that way, so it is imperative (on a statistical point of vue) that you completely avoid to :

    – Travel by car
    – Travel by plane
    – Go on holiday to most of the tropical countries
    (Almost only travel by walking)
    – Leave close to any sea side or big river…
    – Avoid any earthquake like country
    – Smoke, Eat meat….
    – Drink anything but plain water from the bottle of a french moutain :o)
    – Avoid all sports such as diving, flying… and golf (yes it is a statistical dvery dangerous sport )
    – Never kiss anybody you do not know and be aware it is 100% in good health….

    And we can go like there for many more.

    This was just to remember you that life is a risky job :o) at any floor.

    Sorry for my English which is not my mother’s tongue.

    Regards to all


  4. Plum Endemon on December 4, 2011 2:12 pm

    A year or two ago, the interim Owners’ Association in my 34-storey building put together an excellent presentation to advise residents what to do in the event of a fire, what to do to avoid starting a fire and how to use extinguishers, etc. A total of two, yes two people turned up to the presentation …..


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