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All Places > NFPA Today > Blog > 2017 > April > 03

   photo courtesy of The Daily Mail/AP

 

Fire broke out in a high-rise building in Dubai yesterday, generating a thick blanket of black smoke across the skyline. The 60-story Fountain Views complex, being built just a stone's throw from the world's tallest skyscraper, is designed to connect to Dubai's largest mall. The fire broke out on the parking level of the building. The cause of the fire is unknown and there were no injuries reported in the skyscraper that will house 788 apartments and a hotel.

 

Civil Defence officials announced that firefighters from eight stations fought the blaze and four workers were rescued.

 

The latest incident brings to mind the massive fire that broke out on New Year's Eve in December 2015 at the Address Hotel in Dubai, a five-star, 63-story luxury property not far from the Fountain Views. For several years, building authorities and safety experts have raised concerns about the cladding materials used to cover Dubai's iconic skyscrapers.

 

In January The National, a Middle East news outlet, reported that Dubai officials announced more restrictive regulations on exterior cladding. Combustible commercial wall materials are often used to improve energy performance, reduce water and air infiltration, and allow for aesthetic design flexibility.

 

The Fire Protection Research Foundation has researched combustible exterior cladding to develop the technical basis for fire mitigation strategies. The Foundation has also published a report on hi-rise fires in the U.S. that looks at structure fires in building at least seven stories high (apartments or other –multi-family housing; hotels; dormitories or dormitory type properties; facilities that care for the sick; and office buildings). 

April is National Autism Awareness Month. With the number of diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders increasing—they’ve nearly tripled for children in the U.S. since 2004—it’s important for first responders to be familiar with the condition.

 

In January, I spoke with Bill Cannata, a former firefighter turned educator, about the importance of teaching first responders about autism, as well as educating people with autism about fire safety. Our conversation appears in “Clarifying Autism” in the current issue of NFPA Journal.

 

Cannata said the most common calls for service involving individuals with autism are search and rescue calls that are often the result of these individuals wandering away from the safety of their homes or schools. Rescuing individuals with autism can be difficult, he said, because they often don’t recognize when a situation is dangerous. Cannata is a trainer for the Autism Society of America’s Safe and Sound program and the program director of the Massachusetts-based Autism and Law Enforcement Coalition.

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