UL Offers Their Expert Perspective to the Construction Industry on Fire and Life Safety Codes
Global safety science firm UL shared their expertise with construction firms in the UAE on the high-profile topic of fire-safe building cladding as well as other recent changes to the UAE Fire and Life Safety Code.
In addition to its role as the official safety partner at the 8th Annual Fire Safety Technology Forum held on March 21 in Dubai, UL participated in a panel discussion with consultants, contractors and local property developers. Together, they looked closely at the amendments made to the UAE Fire and Life Safety Code, and specifically at the comprehensive chapter that tackles quality standards for building facades.
The code, which now has a greater focus on third-party certification for building materials, was amended in 2017 and will come into force in the upcoming months.
Jonathan J. Gonzalez, regional technical lead, Building & Life Safety Technologies at UL – Middle East, said: “The new UAE Fire and Life Safety Code goes a long way to drive improved safety of buildings, which protects people and property.
“One of the biggest concerns for the construction industry in the Middle East is cladding. If the exterior cladding contributes to the spreading of the flame, the risk of secondary fires spreading to different levels of a building becomes much higher.
By making third-party certifications mandatory, the code helps ensure that manufacturers are producing materials to high standards, which follow the guidelines for fire safety certifications as provided by internationally recognised companies like UL. The code also demands follow-up, with site inspections, to confirm that the same materials and systems are being installed in the buildings.
Fire safety is a key issue for the construction industry both in the UAE and on a global scale. Many high-profile fires in the UAE region and also around the world are thought to have been accelerated by the buildings’ exterior cladding.
Cladding is material applied over another to provide a degree of thermal insulation and weather resistance, and to improve the appearance of buildings. A key new requirement according to the code is that builders will have to carry out regular maintenance on these panels and replace them before their expiration.
This code update means that guidelines for testing, installation and maintenance responsibilities need to be followed by each of the building development parties, including contractors, materials specifiers and purchasers, building owners, consultants and contractors to ensure that the cladding material is appropriately installed and maintained.
Another crucial addition to the code is that the main consultant, manufacturer or supplier of fire safety material, and an independent third-party inspection agency, must jointly sign off on completion of every project before final approval is secured from the Civil Defence.
Operating out of offices in Dubai and a state-of-the-art lab facility in Abu Dhabi, UL assists manufacturers in the UAE to meet the new testing, certification and inspection standards.
Hamid Syed, vice president & GM, UL Middle East, said: “UL is an advocate for safety through the adoption of new technologies and is committed to working with local authorities, including the firefighting and protection entities, to cultivate strict accountability in the construction industry to comply with the UAE’s Fire and Life Safety Code.”
UL’s rigorous processes and follow-up services mean that engineers, architects and code officials can look for a UL mark to determine the compliance of installed products. Builders can verify any UL Certification, Classification, and UL Listed product at UL’s comprehensive Online Certifications Directory.