39.6 C
Doha
Monday, July 26, 2021

Civil Defense Director: ‘All our commercial centers are now safe’

-

fire exitQatar has taken steps to improve the safety of all malls, hotels and other commercial businesses in the country with new, stricter regulations, a senior Civil Defense official has said.

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.”

Questions remain

Despite the new regulations, it is unclear whether Villaggio mall, the site of a fire last year that killed 19 people, including 13 children, is up to safety code.

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.

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by Alyson Hurt

18 COMMENTS

Subscribe
Notify of
18 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
optimisticynicl
optimisticynicl
7 years ago

All of the commercial buildings are safe, and all of the Nepali workers are happy.

Myrddin
Myrddin
7 years ago

All pigs fed, watered, and ready for take off!
; )

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago

“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.” I’m speech less!!!

osamaalassiry
osamaalassiry
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

They paid the fines, so it was OK?

Myrddin
Myrddin
7 years ago
Reply to  osamaalassiry

Seems that, sadly, yes, it was OK! Hope those in authority can live with their conscience?

Myrddin
Myrddin
7 years ago
Reply to  osamaalassiry

Seems that, sadly, yes, it was OK! Hope those in authority can live with their conscience?

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
7 years ago
Reply to  osamaalassiry

even if you pay a fine it does not mean the work to improve has been implemented…..paying a fine and fixing a problem are 2 different things….but it scary to know that they were fined since 2008 and nothing really happened, until tragedy happened!

Annon
Annon
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

“Repeatedly fining since 2008″,a commercial building,a shopping mall no less, where any fire could easily lead to multiple fatalities is FINED! (amounts which probably amounted to pocket change for the owners) for more than FOUR YEARS whilst continuing to be in violation of ”several safety standards”! And this while small street-side eateries are shut down for varying periods of time(sometimes permanently) for being in violation of cleanliness guidelines! There is something fundamentally WRONG with a system which works that way,any which way one chooses to look at it.

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
7 years ago
Reply to  Annon

yeah…the owners!

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago

The causes for most fires are most likely poor workmanship and / or cheap material being used. You get what you pay for.

greg
greg
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

could not agree more with you Abdulrahman

wee_johnnie
wee_johnnie
7 years ago

So is there any hope that the new airport is also compliant and can open some time soon and relieve the pressure and stress on existing facilities? Surely the over-crowding is a disaster waiting to happen.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago

Here’s a simple idea for Civil Defense to do; since closing places that aren’t up to standard or are indeed in violation of the standard cannot be done now, for whatever reason, why not simply post signs at each entrances of all malls and such places stating what risks exist in each one. This way at least people will know the risks that are not addressed or ignored by management, will choose to to take their business elsewhere, and, hopefully, the management will finally act to rectify the situation or risk losing customers.

Myrddin
Myrddin
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Perfectly sensible idea Abdulrahman, but your suggestion would be open to abuse (management removing and/or obscuring such notices) and the time/effort/cost of implementing those notices.

What about a weekly Civil Defence fact sheet updated to provide transparent info on current defects, as well as any successful rectification. Same info could then be translated and disseminated through other media e.g. here on DN?

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  Myrddin

A fact sheet would be great too. The main reason I suggested the signs is for the many people who won’t be aware of such a sheet if it’s online. Especially tourists visiting from nearby countries.

Myrddin
Myrddin
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Fair point. Both would be good!

Civil Defence… over to you?

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago

I know that upon reading this I feel sooooooo much safer. This ranks up there with the official’s remarks at how stories of abused workers were a fabricated smear campaign concocted by foreign journalists.

Does this meant they rewired and changed all the pain in the Villagio (code violations cited by the Civil Defense)? Until that happens, it’s hard to buy statements like this one.

outdoorsboys
outdoorsboys
7 years ago

A hotline to Civil Defense for members of the public to report violations would be welcomed. How many times have you been to Villagio or Landmark and cant even get into the car park because lazy people insist on being dropped off and collected at the door? Despite signs stating that cars cannot stop there, the security staff seem helpless to enforce it. How many times have you seen arrogant men sitting in cafes in Landmark and City Centre blatantly smoking cigarettes whilst staff look on helpless and afraid to do anything. I have even sought out security to report this and they shrug, afraid to approach the wrongdoers in case they end up in trouble themselves. Lets have some teeth in the Health and Safety legislation and make Qatar a safer place.
A word of advice- next time you visit a Mall, take a few minutes to check out the emergency signs and exits- if there are any.

Related Articles

- Advertisment -

Most Read

Subscribe to Doha News below!

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.