UAE to manufacture fire-resistant panels after spate of tower fires

Published August 22nd, 2016 - 01:38 GMT
Fire engulfs more than 30 floors of the 75-floor luxury Sulafa Tower in Dubai in January 2016. (File photo)
Fire engulfs more than 30 floors of the 75-floor luxury Sulafa Tower in Dubai in January 2016. (File photo)

Fire-resistant panels are to be manufactured in the UAE for the first time and come after at least a dozen high profile tower fires in the country since 2012.

Conglomerates Danube Group and Mulk Holdings have said that they have gained certification to manufacture A2 fire resistant panels, which are compulsory for all buildings over 15 metres tall under the UAE’s new Fire & Life Safety code that is still being drafted.

Danube, which has the licence to manufacture Alucopanel cladding in the Middle East, opened its A2 fire-resistant panel production line at its Dubai Technopark facility on Monday. It said it has been licensed by Dubai Civil Defence to make the panels and spent Dh100 million upgrading the facility, including with new equipment. And Mulk Holdings, which manufactures Alubond panels, said Saturday it would start production early next year on A2 fire-resistant panels after it spends $50 million expanding its facility in Sharjah.

This follows a series of major tower blazes across the country in the past couple of years, including the Torch Tower Dubai Marina fire in February 2015 and The Address Downtown fire on New Year’s Eve 2015. The cladding has come into question in a number of those fires because of their flammable polythene (LDPE) core. It is estimated that 1,000 towers in the country are wrapped in the flammable cladding. The A2 fire-resistant panels have a stone core and are less likely to catch fire.

The Danube-made fire-resistant panels will cost 30 per cent to 40 per cent more than the more combustible, polythene variants that were used on towers in the past, Danube chairman Rizwan Sajan told Gulf News on Monday. Danube will continue to manufacture the polythene core panels in the UAE for the regional export market, he said.

The company has already secured contracts to supply the Riyadh Metro with the A2 fire-resistant panels and is in talks for up to eight other projects that would cover 500,000 square metres, it said. Mulk Holdings said “demand is already on the rise” and that it had “booked major projects for the next two years.”

 

However, Danube will not ship the panels until at least the end of September as it waits for certification for associated products that seal the panels to the building, Intisar Adra, Alucopanel Middle East technical business development manager, told Gulf News.

By Alexander Cornwell 

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