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Monday’s Al Quoz fire is the latest in a number of high profile blazes over the last few months. Kipp takes a closer look.

June 28, 2010 4:19 by

The last few months have been busy for the fire service in Dubai, and Monday was no exception. Khaleej Times reports that a fire in a warehouse in Al Quoz industrial estate has “gutted” the oil and chemical storage unit of the United Foods Company, which is located just behind the Pepsi Dubai Refreshments Company.

The blaze is reported to have begun around 2.30am, and was attended by a dozen fire engines from the Dubai Civil Defence department. Reports say that the night shift was working at the factory, but that no one should have been near the building when it caught fire. No casualties were reported.

The same cannot be said, sadly, about another incident that hit the headlines. In the middle of this month a more domestic incident shocked Dubai. An explosion tore through a villa in Mirdif, leaving four teenage girls critically injured. The girls remain in intensive care in hospital. As yet, the exact cause of the blast remains unclear, though Dubai officials are thought to consider it an accident.

And over the weekend, there were unexpected scenes at Abu Dhabi’s Marina Mall after a yacht and a speedboat were destroyed by fire.

The number of fires in the UAE has long been a problem, thanks largely to a “patchwork of standards and regulations,” says the National. But, as dramatic as these incidents have been, the truth is that the number of fires in country has decreased significantly in recent years. In Dubai for instance, in the first four months of the year, 572 fires were reported, a drop of 45 per cent from the same period last year.

And more is being done. Following a major fire at the National Paints factory in May, the Dubai Civil Defence department revealed that every building in Dubai was being examined and assessed for fire safety. The DCD reportedly hired 300 fire inspectors from a private company to sweep more than 60,000 buildings according to reports. The goal is a zero fire rate for Dubai, and the inspections are set to be complete by the end of the year.

The goal is a noble one, but as incidents such as the boat fire in Abu Dhabi and Mirdif explosion demonstrate, there will always be unforeseen or unexplained circumstances which could cause a fire. Just as important as inspection is preparation.

For that reason, some companies are investing in extra training to protect their people, according to the National. The paper features a story about Hedgehog Safety Consultancy, which provides crash courses that help teach firefighting techniques to employees. Using a fire simulator, staff can learn how to safely tackle a fire in a realistically difficult environment.

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