Author(s): Jesse Roman. Published on May 2, 2016.

UAE CONNECTION

A historic meeting in Abu Dhabi bolsters NFPA’s relationship with the Middle East.

BY JESSE ROMAN

A 13-MEMBER NFPA DELEGATION, including President Jim Pauley, traveled to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in March for a historic NFPA symposium on fire protection and code enforcement.

Entitled “Innovation in Fire Protection: Fire Service and Code Enforcers Symposium,” the two-day event was aimed at fire and life safety officials from around the country and addressed the latest code and related issues impacting fire and life safety. NFPA staff gave presentations on a variety of topics, including inspection, testing, and maintenance; managing social media; smart firefighting; automatic fire sprinkler systems; firefighter operations; and industrial fire protection challenges.

The NFPA delegation included senior staff, support staff, and members of the Board of Directors. Nearly 150 fire and life safety officials from around the country attended the symposium, including Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, deputy prime minister and minister of Interior for the UAE.

On behalf of NFPA, Pauley signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UAE, formalizing a mutual commitment to advance fire and life safety in the country.

In his keynote remarks, Pauley stressed the importance of cooperation to further the goal of global fire safety, describing the meeting as the first time NFPA had brought so many of its staff outside the United States for this type of event. “It is a unique opportunity for all of us to talk about the issues facing the fire service and enforcement community today, and to discuss what we can do together to protect people and property from fire and other hazards,” Pauley said.

The meeting was well timed, since the UAE is planning to adopt an updated fire code following a much-publicized fire at a high-rise hotel in downtown Dubai on New Year’s Eve. The new code will include provisions for mitigating high-rise fires. According to UAE media reports, adoption of the UAE Fire and Life Safety Code of Practice 2016 is slated for May.

NFPA worked closely with the UAE Ministry of Interior to organize the Abu Dhabi program. “The event exceeded my expectations,” said Don Bliss, who as NFPA’s vice president of field operations leads the association’s international efforts. “The kind of questions they asked and the interest the event spurred in NFPA were remarkable. And we learned a lot, too, about their needs and the challenges they face.”

NFPA has two more international forums planned this year focused on enforcement—a two-day event in Panama in August geared toward the fire service, and an event in Mexico City in November on electrical enforcement. Vist the NFPA website for more information on NFPA’s international efforts.

JESSE ROMAN is associate editor for NFPA Journal.