Dubai toughens fire rules after tower blazes

Builders must abide by new requirement to ensure that flammability of cladding is as close to zero as possible

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Dubai on Sunday announced tougher fire rules in a bid to minimize risks after several spectacular blazes that have ripped through skyscrapers in the modern Gulf emirate.

Major fires have hit Dubai high-rises in recent years and spread quickly, mostly due to flammable material used in cladding, a covering or coating used on the side of the buildings.

Civil Defence Lieutenant Taher Hassan al-Taher announced the new regulations at a security exhibition during which authorities also launched Dubai's new fire and safety code for the emirate.

According to Taher builders must abide by a new requirement to ensure that the flammability of the cladding is as close to zero as possible.

"There is a requirement to minimize it to zero," Taher said.

Builders will also have to regularly carry out maintenance on the cladding panels and replace them after a certain date, he added.

"There is a timeline for all cladding (and) there is maintenance for everything. By that time they'll have to change it," Taher said, speaking in English.

Those who violate the rules will face fines up to 50,000 dirhams ($13,623), he added.

Dubai has experienced a real estate boom over the years with hundreds of skyscrapers built in the modern city state in a short lapse of time with many tiled with flammable cladding.

Most towers built before 2012 have reportedly used non-fire-rated exterior panels.

Fires have hit several high-rise buildings in the Dubai, famed for its record-breaking skyscrapers.

On New Year's Eve 2015 a huge blaze ripped through the luxury Address Downtown Hotel, injuring 16 people just a few hours before a spectacular fireworks display nearby.

In July last year, a fire gutted the 75-storey Sulafa tower in Dubai marina, with the flames spreading up quickly at least 15 floors of the building.

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