Sharjah’s new fire system to ensure faster response actions to fire emergencies
Sharjah Prevention and Safety Authority (SPSA), which was established in 2014, launched its latest initiative named AMAN on 1 April 2019
Fire safety is among the top priorities of the UAE region, and Sharjah has recently joined the fire safety code bandwagon. Sharjah Prevention and Safety Authority (SPSA), which was established in 2014, launched its latest initiative named AMAN on 1 April 2019, a new system that ensures faster response actions to fire emergencies, which in turn, ensures the safety of people and properties in Sharjah.
SPSA’s mission is to enhance the quality of life in Sharjah by applying the highest internationally recognised standards of prevention and safety to ensure the protection and safety of individuals and properties.
Elaborating more on AMAN, Qais Mahmoud, project manager of AMAN at SPSA, said: “AMAN is basically a communicator device that will be installed in all kinds of buildings such as residential, governmental, industrial, and even small shops, in Sharjah. This communicator device will be installed next to the FACP or fire alarm control panel for the fire alarms and it will connect these fire alarms to a monitoring station in Civil Defense.” Mahmoud spearheads the achievement of the project’s objectives in line with the SPSA vision.
The communicator will be sending signals to two monitoring stations: one will be placed in the Civil Defense office and the other one at Saned, which is SPSA’s partner in this project and Saned will be handling the project on the ground. Saned is a joint venture between Sharjah Asset Management Holding (SAM), the investment arm of the Government of Sharjah, and
“The monitoring station in Saned will be only to monitor and verify the alarms that are coming from the buildings, while the Civil Defense’s monitoring station will dispatch personnel to the site to find out if there is any kind of emergency or accident,” Mahmoud said. The AMAN system will be mandatory for all business owners and building developers in Sharjah and the law will be published soon. He said: “After the law is imposed, there will be a grace period of six months for building owners to rectify and fix any kind of issues in their buildings with respect to fire safety.”
According to Mahmoud, one of the reasons for implementing such an initiative was the increase in fire incidents, and that maintenance “is not good as per our inspections that we performed in Sharjah”. He said: “We saw that a lot of buildings need to be maintained. There is not enough awareness. We execute several awareness sessions before launching the project. We are always meeting the developers and building owners to make them aware about the safety measures that need to be done in their buildings because in the end there are families living [in the buildings] and it’s our duty to protect their lives.”
The AMAN device will reduce the response time of Civil Defense teams from the currently 3.5 minutes to 2 minutes and less. “We’ll get a fast response now and will not wait for the building owners or the public to call the Civil Defense and say there is an accident or fire in the building. We will be saving time on dispatching the teams,” Mahmoud said.
Process and cost
SPSA had meetings with the leading companies and other governmental entities to come up with the best cost-effective solution. Mahmoud explained the process and the cost of installing AMAN systems: “The aim of the government of Sharjah is to get a cost-efficient device that can suit the market and building owners. At the same time, do the job of monitoring the building.”
“The device will cost AED4,200 for installation, and it will cover one year of maintenance with two assessment visits free of charge. In the first assessment visit, the technicians will go to the building and tell the building owner what the issue, if any, is in his devices, and he will be given time to rectify these issues. In the next visit, if it’s still not ready, we will give him another report with all the issues that needs to be rectified.
“Thereafter, if the device is still not fixed, the owner will be charged an extra AED450 as extra assessment. Then, from second year onwards, there will be an AED1,500 yearly maintenance fee.”
Mahmoud said that enforcement of the new law should come with a good strategy. “You can’t just enforce a law that might not suit the market. We will be enforcing our law that will link with the Civil Defense. After the AMAN law is decreed, Civil Defense will not publish any completion certificate for the building owners until they connect their building to the AMAN system. So the building owners cannot renew their certificates until their buildings are connected to AMAN and this is updated in the monitoring station.
“We don’t seek to go with penalties and fines. Even we’re just doing an awareness inspection on buildings. We go to building owners and tell them what’s wrong with their buildings, but most of them get scared when we enter the building because they are used to getting fines when any government entity goes into the building. But we are always just raising the awareness with regards to safety issues.”
Future with AMAN
The AMAN system is something that has provision for further expansion. Mahmoud said that the device can be developed later for other aspects such as connecting to an elevator or gas system of a building.
He said: “This is basically a communication device and it has nothing to do only with fire systems. It just receives alarms from buildings or from whichever device it is connected to and it relays these signals to the monitoring station.” The aim of the AMAN project is to minimise the number of false alarms in buildings. Mahmoud warned that for this system to work properly the maintenance companies should maintain the fire systems in the buildings well before the device is connected. Similary, if there is any fault in the AMAN device, then “we will be coming to the monitoring station within 15 to 30 seconds and contacting the building owner and the maintenance company to confirm the issue and fix it”.
In future, AMAN’s aim is to monitor all buildings in Sharjah, including both the western and southern areas. He said: “The main focus in the first stage will be in the city because most of the buildings are in the city. AMAN in the future will apply to any kind of device.”
Fire safety market
The fire safety market has been booming in Sharjah, Mahmoud has observed. “There are a lot of regulations and laws being implemented in the Emirates regarding fire. So you have the Civil Defense code that all companies have to follow. Laws that control the markets of fire companies and it’s actually very high. Even with the AMAN project, it’s opening the window for these companies to come and develop their strategies and maintenance teams and have more awareness because even without our other training initiatives like Salama which is the training institute all companies has to you know have training sessions in the Salama Institute.”
The SPSA also launched an initiative entitled, ‘Salama Preventive Training Institute,’ which is aimed towards increasing awareness about the importance of conducting preventive training. Salama provides the foundation for workers to develop a culture of behavioural safety by taking preventive measures that safeguard their safety and their lives. Mahmoud said: “Labourers or technicians have to attend the training. We are increasing level of safety and thereby opening new markets in Sharjah. So the market is actually pretty good right now in Sharjah.”