Dubai -- When a New Years Eve fire hit a hotel in Dubai, they couldn't have expected it to devour forty floors so quickly. The facade was not fire resistant, and allowed the fire to spread too fast, causing the fire water supply to run out in fifteen minutes.
When firefighters arrived, they found that there was no water supply left. The fire had spread quickly across 40 floors, activating many fire sprinkler heads. This drained the fire water supply.
"The sprinkler systems worked as they were designed to do, but this was an extraordinary fire. The water in that system drained quite quickly because of how many sprinklers were operating," said Matt Bright of Dubai Civil Defense Operations and fire Investigation team.
The fire injured fifteen people and one person suffered a heart attack.
The cladding on the building did not meet fire safety standards. The Civil Defense said that fire barriers could be a possible solution to buildings without fire safe cladding. However, they have not yet approved this recommendation.
"If the entire cladding cannot be replaced, then every 10 meters provide a fire-retardant exterior facade system. If there is a fire on the ground floor the first barrier will stop it," said Sajid Raza, an advisor and VP of Butler Engineering Consultancy.
"If you have a barrier every five or ten meters, it's to stop the leapfrog effect of the fire spreading up a building," said David Mills, head of Forster Profiles Middle East. "The idea is if there is a fire in one part of a building it does not decimate the entire building, so there is some barrier to at least limit the spread. This is one solution being proposed by the industry, maybe because it's probably not cost-effective to rip out all of the existing facades on all of the affected buildings."
Fire doors did help save lives during the hotel fire.
"Almost all of the fire doors stayed intact. That saved people, plus the hard work of our crews," said Mr. Bright. "Quite often in fires the smoke will kill people before the fire. The fire door not only holds the fire back, it also holds the smoke back." The fire doors are the reason that there were no deaths - only fifteen minor injuries in this fire.
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