Among the new rules is a requirement that businesses that fail to fulfill safety standards will not have their licenses renewed, Director Brig. Abdullah Mohammed Al Suwaidi said, as quoted by the Peninsula.
To ensure compliance, he added that new civil defense stations are being set up across Qatar, including in Thumana, at the Pearl, in Mesaieed and eventually, in Lusail.
The newspaper reports:
“He said electrical short circuits continue to be the main cause of fire incidents in Qatar and 80 percent of deaths in such incidents were caused by suffocation. ‘Now there is more awareness among people on how to use fire exits (during an emergency),’ said Al Suwaidi. He said the response time of Civil Defence personnel in Qatar is well within the global average of six to 10 minutes.”
During the trial to determine criminal responsibility for the deaths, which were all caused by smoke asphyxiation by being trapped in a children’s daycare, Civil Defense officials testified that the mall was in violation of several safety standards.
The court, which found two mall executives guilty of involuntary manslaughter in June, heard that the government had been fining Villaggio repeatedly since 2008 for using a highly toxic, flammable paint in its mall decorations; that sprinklers, which would have stopped the smoke, didn’t appear to be functioning; and that Villaggio officials did not respond to requests from the fire alarm and sprinkler system companies to perform much-needed maintenance on the mall equipment, as recently as the week of the fire.
When Villaggio re-opened last year, it declined to comment on what changes have been made to ensure visitors’ safety, and the ceilings continue to be adorned with the paint in question.
Last year, City Center mall was also temporarily shut by Civil Defense, but outlined the efforts it took to shore up safety after reopening, including adding exits, clearing some kiosks from the mall and widening aisles in some stores.
Meanwhile, the causes of most fires in Qatar continue to go undetermined, raising concerns about how to focus prevention efforts.
Credit: Photo by Alyson Hurt