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He notes that while Dubai amended its fire standards for the exterior of buildings in 2013, the UK’s own standards have been in place for more than 40 years ever since the 1973 Summerland holiday park fire on the Isle of Man that killed 50 people and injured 8 others seriously.Since that disaster, Mr Barry adds, British tall buildings must be compliant with British safety standard BS476 which meet so-called Class ‘0’ standard that allow for “no surface spread of flames” Peter Foster, from our Foreign Desk, writes: The fire at The Address hotel is the third major skyscraper fire in the emirate since 2012 and raises some very serious safety questions for British tourists and business visitors to Dubai.The main reason, he surmises, is that no-one has yet been killed in one of these fires – will it take a mass casualty disaster to make a difference?Peter Foster has just spoken to Phil Barry, a fire safety consultant with Gloucester-based CWB Fire Safety who has worked extensively in Qatar and the UAE and who warns it is “only a matter of time” before there are major fatalities caused by flammable cladding fires.This followed the November 2012 fire in the Tamweel Tower located in the Jumeirah Lakes Towers complex, with flames leaping up the exterior of the building as the aluminium cladding ignited. A detailed analysis by two legal partners at Dubai’s Bin Shabib & Associates, estimates that before the new regulations came in to force, “hundreds of high-rise buildings in the UAE" were clad with flammable composite material panels.Although it is will require a forensic fire report to confirm whether The Address fire was another caused by flammable cladding, Dubai's “The Blog” quotes city officials saying the blaze damaged "only the external interface".
Here are the key developments on Saturday: • Flames engulfed the exterior of the luxury 63-storey hotel ‘The Address’ within a matter of seconds, tearing up the outside of the building “like paper” according to onlookers and creating a stampede of New Years’ revellers fleeing for their lives.
Dubai authorities confirmed that only 16 people had suffered mostly minor injuries, with only two victims, including a pregnant woman, remaining in hospital overnight for precautionary observations.
• At the heart of safety concerns is the use of polyurethane and aluminium composite cladding on buildings throughout the height of the emirate’s building boom.
“The basic rule is that the outside of any building over 30 metres – which is as high as any fire-truck ladder can reach – must be made of non-combustible materials because you cannot fight the fire.
Large numbers of buildings in the UAE do not meet that standard,” he said.