DOHA: The authorities will step up safety measures at farmhouses following the fire in a farmhouse in Al Shahaniya on Monday that killed a prominent Qatari actor, a senior official has said.
The incident has triggered concerns about the safety of farmhouses across the country and there are calls for immediate action.
A senior official of the Ministry of Environment told an Arabic daily that the Ministry will hold an urgent meeting with Civil Defence officials to discuss the issue in detail and plan steps to prevent such incidents in future.
The meeting may propose to make it mandatory for farmhouse owners to equip the premises with fire extinguishers, Abdullah Esa Al Nuaimi, acting head of environmental protection department at the Ministry told the daily.
The meeting will also discuss ways to educate farmhouse owners and labourers on safety and security measures. Farmhouses are private properties like homes and they don’t require a licence from Civil Defence, he added.
There are 5,163 farmhouses in Qatar of which 1,640 are new ones. Al Shahaniya where the fire took place has 353 farmhouses. Others are mostly located in Al Khuraib (317) Semaisima (314), Abu Nakhla (125), Al Wakra (193), Al Shamal (71|) and Al Khor ( 264).
The role of the environment protection department is only to give advices and launch awareness drives. Al Nuaimi said the department had been advising the owners to clean the farmhouses properly and remove vehicle scrap and other solid waste to protect environment and prevent fire.
The inspection team conducts regular inspections at farmhouses to ensure that they abide by the regulations of the Ministry.
Strict actions have been taken against erring facilities, even licenses of several farmhouses have been cancelled for failure to comply with the rules.
“We are trying to raise public awareness about a very common mistake that often happens in farmhouses. People would light up a coal fire for barbeque and leave the place keeping it burning and without removing the coal from the premises,” said Al Nuaimi.
More than 350 farmhouses in Al Shahaniya are made of inflammable materials, Mohammad Zafer Al Hajari, member of Central Municipal Council (CMC) representing Al Shahaniya told the daily.
The Ministry rules do not allow building permanent structures for farmhouses since they can be misused for other purposes like labour accommodations, he added.
“Once the CMC recommended to allow the farmhouses to build one or two rooms using cement blocks but the Ministry rejected the proposal. They depend on generators if they do not have water supply then how they can put out the fire,” he asked.
Another problem is that farmhouses are built in close proximity. If one facility catches fire, it can easily spread to the adjacent premises, he added. The Peninsula