UAE brings in new fire safety building regulations

The use of flammable exterior cladding panels on buildings above 15 metres tall is to be banned in the UAE, but the ban will only affect new structures, UAE daily Gulf News reported.

The announcement comes after a blaze ripped through a tower block in Dubai’s Jumeirah Lake Towers in the early hours of November 18, in which panels containing a petroleum-based foam are said to have assisted in the fire spreading and causing hundreds to evacuate.

An amendment to the new fire safety code will stop the use of non fire-rated panels and will also require the approval of Civil Defence engineering departments, the report added.

But concerns still remain as to how to best deal with the existing 500 towers in the country that are covered in the exterior cladding.

“All cladding panels shall be tested and approved for their combustibility and flame spread classification at the maximum thickness intended for use and intended assemblies and shall not contain foamed plastic insulation at its core,” the newspaper cited the revisions as saying, adding that “non rated material is not permitted unless recommended by panel manufacturers.”

The new regulations also state that all cladding and associated materials must be tested

Previous rules under the UAE Fire and Life Safety Code, that was brought into force in July 2011, did not regulate the use of these flammable panels, the reported added.