On New Year’s Eve one more Dubai skyscraper suffered from fire. This is the third high rise fire in three years in the region, so the occasion raised many questions whether the materials used are safe for tall buildings.
The economic boom has brought hundreds of skyscrapers to the region, especially to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. These buildings usually feature ultra-modern design, but in order to make the buildings stylish, a lot of cladding is used in construction to provide insulation or for decoration purposes, layers of material are fixed outside the building. The latest devastating blaze in the 63-storey Address Downtown hotel and tower showed that the fire was spreading mostly outside. This has given rise to questions whether cladding makes buildings more vulnerable to fire.
As many as 250 high-rise buildings in Dubai use cladding panels, most of which have thermoplastic cores. These panels are made of aluminium sheets combined with fillings made of plastic or polyurethane. Such a combination of materials is not always dangerous, but under certain conditions the panels can channel fire inside the building, especially if the building is a high rise one.
The Address Downtown hotel suffered major loss because of fire. 14 people were lightly injured and 60 people complained about smoke inhalation.