A regional expert has commended the role of facility management in the aftermath of the new UAE fire code.
Andre Mars, quality, health, safety, and environment (QHSE) manager at Cofely Besix Facility Management (CBFM), said the new UAE fire code, a.k.a the UAE Fire and Life Safety Code of Practice would improve life safety standards in the country. Speaking to ConstructionWeek, Mars said: “The revised UAE fire and life safety code is a step in the right direction, especially when taking into consideration the responsibilities of stakeholders throughout a building’s lifecycle.”
“From designers and consultants, to tenants – all parties have a measure of accountability towards fire and life safety.”
Mars said responsibilities assigned to facility management (FM) service providers under the new UAE fire code are descriptive, and cover a wide range of maintenance and inspection duties, which in essence, puts FM companies at the forefront of making sure fire and life safety compliance is maintained during the operation of buildings.
“A point worth noting is the requirement for FM service providers to be registered and approved by [civil defence authorities]. These companies also now have to designate Civil Defence-approved fire and life safety managers to the buildings they maintain,” Mars continued.
“One would assume that Civil Defence will have a process in place for vetting the competencies of FM companies to execute their responsibilities under the revised UAE fire code,” he continued. “Should this be the case, it will have a direct impact on improving and sustaining due diligence towards life safety […] in the long run.”
Mars explained that under the new UAE fire code, FM companies would also be involved in the commissioning of emergency evacuation plans, and verifying the authenticity and applicability of such evacuation plans as per site conditions.
“This area will create new opportunities for FM service providers to impart innovative solutions [based on] their on-the-ground experience with emergency evacuations, especially considering the novel – and often complex – designs and layouts of buildings in the UAE.”
Mars confirmed that the inspection regimes that FM companies would have to maintain were a positive development, yet challenging.
He explained: “Many FM service providers, who in the past may have opted to transfer the risk by assigning routine inspections to fire specialist contractors, are now compelled to carry out daily routine inspections themselves. This will certainly increase awareness and vigilance to mitigate fire and life safety risks.”
Additionally, CBFM’s manager of QHSE said the new UAE fire code has many positive aspects, and is more descriptive in terms of the responsibilities of stakeholders.
However, Mars said, “Some of the document’s stipulations may impact existing cost models. Extra responsibilities amount to extra work, and extra work amounts to extra costs, which ultimately adds to the total cost of facility ownership, [or] whole building lifecycle-cost. Eventually one can expect these costs […] to be passed onto consumers and end-users.”