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Palm Jumeirah residents say developer is being 'negligent' on fire safety precautions

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DUBAI // A catalogue of concerns over fire safety regulations that could stop hundreds of Shoreline residents escaping in an emergency have not been addressed by developer Nakheel, property groups say.Owners associations, residents and landlords in Buildings 1 to 9 of the Palm Jumeirah development are demanding answers from Nakheel following a big increase in clubhouse fees this year.A beach access dispute has resulted in the rear doors of Shoreline Apartment blocks being locked, but residents claim the doors are an escape route in the event of a fire, should front entrances be blocked by fire, smoke or debris.”Given Dubai’s history of recent apartment fires, all necessary precautions should be taken by the management company to ensure safety of all residents,” said Matthew Born, who has been living on Shoreline for four years.”In the event of a fire, an investigation will take place to apportion blame, the insurer will insist, and owners do not want a situation where the insurance company denies a claim based on negligence by the property manager.”Despite the concerns, and others related to serial faults with fire detection systems, irregular checks and maintenance of equipment and a lack of fire drills, Nakheel insists all buildings on The Palm conform to the latest safety regulations.Owners association representatives compiled a comprehensive report on fire safety concerns and submitted them to Dubai Civil Defence two years ago, although they claim little changed.”Shoreline owners and tenants have expressed various fire safety concerns in the aftermath of recent fires in residential blocks across Dubai,” said Bill Ramsay, a spokesman for the interim owners association in Building 12.”In 2015, following the serious fire at nearby Torch Tower, our concerns were reported directly to Dubai Civil Defence, who subsequently requested essential maintenance repairs to reported issues. Some of those original issues have been observed again more recently.”The most commonly reported issues are discarded cigarettes on balconies, a habit that could be stopped with correct signposting and information in several languages on the fire risk butts can cause.”These would clearly identify what is deemed unacceptable behaviour and highlight severe penalties for repeat offenders,” Mr Ramsay said.”There are wide variations in the quality of such notices at present. The authorities could consider issuing guidance on minimum standards.”In February, technicians from Al Arabia were called out to fix 77 fire alarm faults in Building 4 of Shoreline – the entire eighth floor.One resident claimed a fault in his flat had gone undetected for 18 months, as another broken alarm had immobilised the detection system.Without fixing the initial fault, alarms would be unlikely to sound in other flats on the same floor should a fire break out.Although the problem has been fixed, owners are demanding a new testing and management system for all fire and smoke alarms in the building.Several emails have been sent to Nakheel Strata, the management company, to highlight the issues since January but owners claim they are being ignored.Apartment owners have also had to contend with a big rise in service fees in 2017.Residents also complained about the handover of a new security contract, with no details offered to advise on costs, shift patterns and responsibilities in the event of a fire.Julian Redman, who represents the owners association in Shoreline Buildings 7 and 8, said an audit of fire safety was undertaken independently of Nakheel last year as a result of residents’ concerns. “Our building has gone through an extensive fire safety assessment and found abandoned gas canisters and flammable items in the car park,” he said.”We did this six months ago to check the sprinklers and alarm systems were working and if there was any dangerous wiring that may need replacing.”A Nakheel spokeswoman said: “The Shoreline Apartment fire systems fully comply with Dubai Civil Defence requirements.”Systems are inspected by DCD-approved contractors and continually updated and maintained, with any necessary rectification work carried out immediately. In addition, all buildings are connected to the DCD 24-hour alert system.”_________________________________Residents’ seven points on procedureA fire procedure document displayed at Shoreline Apartments is littered with mistakes that could prevent an effective evacuation in the event of a fire, residents say.The claims submitted to Dubai Civil Defence from residents two years ago were:1. Documents provide no clear guidance about how to isolate lifts to prevent inadvertent use in a fire. 2. No clear guidance for security personnel to use staircases and not use lifts, which may allow the rapid spread of fire or smoke.3. Failure to address the fact that security personnel do not have free access to building from the fire stairwells. 4. Fire-door keys for each floor are retained in a key cabinet, with no master key available – each door requires a separate key. 5. Failure to clearly address how an incident is confirmed to both the Palm Control Centre and Dubai Civil Defence for response teams.6. Shoreline Fire Panel has been permanently reporting a fault condition for more than three years. 7. Continued presence of faulty devices must clearly have a consequential bearing on effectiveness of systems to promptly detect fire.* The

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