SIRA & DCD: Collaboration and a vision for the future


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A new partnership between the Security Industry Regulatory Agency and the Emirates Safety Laboratory of the General Directorate of Civil Defense is ensuring rapid growth and stability in the security, fire and life safety markets within The City of Gold.

Quality testing and innovation laboratories of safety and security in Dubai

The UAE in general – and Dubai in particular – has always ranked high among the world’s best places in terms of security and safety. This is mainly due to strategic orientation towards comprehensive quality policies and sustainable services through the implementation of the highest international standards and specifications in all sectors, particularly security.

Aiming to achieve the highest security, safety and risk prevention indicators, because of close correlation to economic stability and life quality indicators, Dubai has been distinguished among not only the cities of the Middle East, but the World too.

Speaking of standards, attention was paid, in institutions of the security and safety sector in Dubai, to the importance of establishing independent laboratories to approve the systems and equipment under their control – as well as to modernise the mechanisms and tools used in these laboratories to ensure pace was kept with the latest technologies used in the sector.

Among these institutions, the Security and Safety Laboratories of both the Security Industry Regulatory Agency and the General Directorate of Civil Defense of Dubai would bring about a radical change in the development of security and safety services and maintain a key role in setting standards of the quality of security systems and equipment and monitoring compliance therewith in both the government and private sectors.

Experts and engineers working at these laboratories also seek to enhance a culture of innovation to find innovative smart solutions against the challenges facing the local market in the field of security and safety by leveraging AI technology in control, monitoring and surveillance, making the two centres a beacon of research and development. The teams of researchers and engineers are working to innovate and adopt various future technologies to be used in monitoring and tracking devices, security cameras, locks, shatter-resistant glass and more.

The security laboratory of both institutions is the main body responsible for setting the standards of the equipment and systems according to the local and global best practices and to conduct technical testing operations and accreditation with conformity of standards, which ensures scrutiny to government and private sector actors in support of the economy’s prosperity and the preservation of lives and property.

Based on adherence to standards of supporting and practicing innovation, these institutions contribute to upgrading the vital sectors of Dubai City; these researchers support the design and outlook for the future and enhance Dubai’s position as a leading future city in security and safety.

Emirates Safety Laboratory of the General Directorate of Civil Defense

The Emirates Safety Laboratory (ESL) provides a comprehensive solution for testing, accreditation and beyond. The lab provides services and solutions to reduce risk, achieve compliance, accelerate market entry and drive sustainable growth. Experts and engineers assess conformity and test and approve products or systems through independent assessments to mitigate risk and improve performance and safety in order to be able to succeed in the market.

This laboratory is experienced in working with all kinds of fire safety business applied to various industries such as construction, defence, energy, space, oil and gas, data communication, etc. Through these expertise and knowledge, the lab ensures the security and compatibility of systems and products with section standards and regulations worldwide.

Both the ESL Authority and Test Laboratory were registered and approved by the UAE Civil Defense to provide conformity assessment, certification, type testing and scrutiny in accordance with the requirements of the UAE Fire and Life Safety Code of Practice. The laboratory’s scope of accreditation and testing covers a wide range of international standards applicable in many areas.

Security Systems and Equipment Laboratory of the Security Industry Regulatory Agency (SIRA)

This is a lab of the institution’s Department of Monitoring and Metrics. It is specialised, with management and implementation of the process of testing and approval of security systems in terms of their conformity with the approved systems and standards conforming to the global quality.

Through this laboratory, the most important security products and systems pass to inspect security vehicles and equipment to ensure their conformity to the highest standards and specifications to be used in vital sectors under the law of the SIRA.

Through the only laboratory of its kind in the Middle East, security systems, CCTV, recording devices, alarms, sensors, shatter-resistant glass, locks, money transport and deposit bags are tested and approved. Security products and systems are also classified according to their risk and are excluded from the market in the event that they pose any danger to the user or community.

Some products pose a danger to users if the specifications of the device mentioned in its description differ from the product itself, which will not give the desired results. By ensuring this, vital sectors in Dubai can apply systems and devices approved by the laboratory with confidence and safety.

Security Innovation Laboratory

This laboratory is part of the SIRA laboratories, in which creative engineers create devices and systems that facilitate the process of testing and approving security systems in the Security Systems and Equipment Laboratory.

One of the most important innovations of the laboratory is the VSS testing chamber, which examines CCTV solutions and ensures their efficiency. The device features a thermal system and a lighting control system in addition to a system checking the accuracy and clarity of the cameras.

This device has been invented after reviewing the best European laboratories and CCTV testing chambers that test each standard separately in terms of humidity, heat and light in chambers extending over an area of 16 square meters, for three days to three weeks. The process has been shortened in the VSS testing chamber, which tests all standards in one place, with an area of six square meters and a standard time of three hours max.

Collaboration between laboratories

The General Directorate of Civil Defense in Dubai and the Security Industry Regulatory Agency seek to achieve cooperation and unify areas of similarity in joint tests between the two laboratories in order to achieve broader and more accurate results in terms of quality and effectiveness.

Executive Director of the Security Industry Regulatory Agency, HE Khalifa Ibrahim Al Saleis, said that approving joint tests of laboratories aims to shorten the journey of security systems and equipment that is approved within the two institutions. This would facilitate the examination and accreditation procedures for business owners and users of security and safety services by unifying the examination authority and making it unnecessary to continue resorting to external laboratories in addition to ensuring the accuracy of the results and their conformity with the standards and laws to which these systems and equipment are subject.

He added: “The achievement of this cooperation among laboratories would achieve a shift and development in the field of testing and examination as it will integrate security and safety tests in one platform.”

Leading by example

In 2017, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) – represented by the Directorate General of Dubai Civil Defense (DCD) in Dubai under the leadership of Major General Expert Rashid Thani Al Matrooshi and Brigadier Expert Ali Al Mutawa – embarked on building, developing, planning, constructing and implementing Dubai’s first-ever government-controlled facility, the ESL, for fire testing and product certification services, with a focus on fire safety within the UAE, GCC, greater Middle East, North Africa and Indian sub-continent regions.

Leading the project over the recent years was Major Khalid Saeed Abdulla Al Tunaji, who embarked on bringing together numerous international and regional Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC) industry specialists and experts to oversee the ESL. The ESL has been recognised as a testing and certification body on the UAE-approved 2022 list of companies, laboratories and expertise houses.

On the first of March, 2022, and coinciding with the commencement of commercial operations, the ESL added David Campbell, General Manager to the team, who has extensive experience providing testing and certification services across the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe and is assisting the ESL with the day-to-day management, understanding the various markets and customer needs and developing the focus required by clients in this greater region.

One of the main aims of the ESL is to ensure a safer and sustainable future and provide the most comprehensive facility to undertake fire systems testing/power and safety testing and conformity assessment certification – and to use the sustainable practices to assist government agencies, manufacturers, construction contractors, consultants in achieving product certification and market entry into the more significant Middle Eastern, North African and Indian subcontinent regions.

The idea of the ESL first originated from a need to ensure quality of products and services by laying down various local, international and regional standards that guide the manufacturing of products and systems. These standards also guide industrial or product designers and developers to achieve the proper design and provide guidelines to manufacturers in product manufacturing processes.

The purpose of the ESL here is to ensure relevant standards are being followed and meeting these requirements by delivering testing and certification services in the fire and life safety industry to ensure a safer and sustainable future.

The ESL provides testing and certification services for the following without limitation:

Indirect Fire Suppression Systems and Building Materials

• Fire rated doors
• External facades
• Ventilation systems
• Fire stopping materials

Direct Fire Suppression Systems (Firefighting Products and Systems)

• Fire sprinkler systems
• Water sprayers
• Special extensions in systems
• Fire launchers
• External fire hydrant systems

Direct Extinguishing Systems (Electrical Fire Suppression Systems)

• Audio/voice evacuation systems
• Fire detecting systems
• Emergency lighting systems
• Smoke dampers

The testing equipment used in the ESL is the latest state-of-the-art equipment and technologies, which all work on smart platforms. The ESL has the latest technological containment and collection systems for the smoke and combustion products that have been designed and installed according to the European standards to ensure that no harmful pollutants are generated to the atmosphere from the testing activities.

The ESL also has container water systems for containing extract water generated from the testing activities, which is removed, to eliminate pollution, and then recycled. Currently, the ESL works on the development of smart operation technologies to help with holding the most efficient safety testing in a way that cope with the Customer Happiness System.

The testing laboratory houses cutting edge technology that tests the products and materials to the applicable standards with high quality efficiency whilst mitigating and reducing risks of environmental pollution; this is conducted in line with the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to use energy efficiently and without damage to the environment.

The ESL is a certified partner of UL Solutions and such cooperation allows UL Solutions customers to carry out local testing. The ESL subcontracts to offer Intertrek testing services which allows ITS customers to carry out testing in the ESL. The ESL also supports Dubai Police General Directorate of Criminal Evidence and Criminology in examining post-fire bodies. Furthermore, the ESL provides testing services for IPS and BM Trada Ventures Middle East certificates.

The testing laboratory is accredited by IAS, EIAC, GAC and SASO and has been accredited by the GCC countries. The ESL testing evidence and certificates are recognised in some parts of India and Africa, including Egypt. The ESL started its commercial operations on 1 April 2023 as the first testing and certification facility in the Middle East to provide the testing services of fire pumps, roof testing, air ducts and suppressants, smoke and heat detectors in various local, regional and international fields according to international standards.

The ESL provides myriad services in the field of testing and certification; below are some statistics that reflects the importance of the laboratory:

• 45 Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC) specialised technological experts from various countries
• More than 90 testing methods applied in the ESL for firefighting, Reaction to Fire (RTF), safety, power, detectors pumps and fire pumps
• Certifying products after being subject to more than 500 methods of testing, while taking the 100% certification decision by a Dubai-based team.

The ESL enhances Dubai’s competitiveness in the security sector through the testing and certification services which provide the highest level of safety and security to ensure a safer and more sustainable future.

International Security Journal speaks exclusively with David Campbell, General Manager

Do you think that robots and AI can replace people in labs?

Definitely, yes. Some activities will be carried out with the use of various intelligent and innovative technologies. Robots can better be used in Fire Resistance (FR) and Reaction to Fire (RTF) testing activities, for example, which pose a health threat to workers in the sector due to some environmental factors like smoke, gases and toxicants.

Digital robots, visual cognition, automatic learning to interpret findings of testing reports and detecting simple issues like success/failures, violation, investigation of obligatory parameters – like the isolation temperature, deviation, deformation, intermittent burning or hot gases – may also be used. Fire extinguishing scientists and engineers will have to boost their knowledge and study technology and data sciences to ensure that AI conforms to the compliance requirements as stipulated in our codes, criteria and regulations.

The use of AI will always be a basic requirement in order to provide a new approach for fire testing and product certification. That’s why the ESL closely works with the universities to encourage science and engineering students to specialise in fire sciences and intelligent technologies. Yet, we have to admit, the presence of people with all their scientific and practical experiences in laboratories is indispensable.

Are you with or against the presence of both government and private laboratories?

There are many examples where both government and private laboratories have worked side by side; both government and private laboratories have successfully co-existed in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

Private laboratories have started to be government entities or entities owned by the insurance industry. Private laboratories mainly aim to achieve more profits and to attract stakeholders. On the other hand, government laboratories primarily seek to support the community, research and development, promote standards and to ensure the highest level of safety and quality for the population of a certain geographical area.

In general, both private and public laboratories support the international growth of industry and ensure a more safe and sustainable future.

What is the ESL’s future vision?

In the future, the ESL envisions Dubai to be an international hub for testing and conformity assessment activities, so that Dubai can be internationally recognised as a pioneer in the testing, inspection and certification (TIC) industry. We also look at expanding our services and locations to support the European, African, Asian governments, clients and manufacturers, so that Dubai would be widely recognised and preferred.

Furthermore, we plan to expand the scope of our services to include all fields of firefighting, safety, mechanical and audio effects, environment and sustainability in addition to continuing to support higher education in the fields of firefighting sustainability and smart technologies.

This article was originally published in the January 2023 edition of International Security Journal. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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