IFSJ Leaders in Fire & Safety Conference 2024: Keeping the spotlight on the future of fire and safety

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Industry leaders came together for the second annual IFSJ Leaders in Fire & Safety Conference

On Thursday, 9 May 2024, the IFSJ Leaders in Fire & Safety Conference, held in association with Reacton Fire Suppression, welcomed senior key professionals to the Grosvenor House Hotel, Dubai Marina, UAE.

The attendees, comprising influential decision-makers in the field, were treated to an immersive experience featuring expert presentations and engaging panel sessions.

The sessions delved into the most pressing issues currently faced by leaders in the fire and safety sector, including emerging technology, health and wellbeing, hazardous materials, equality and diversity, leadership strategies, and crisis management.

The conference has garnered widespread acclaim for its unwavering commitment to delivering high-quality content, leaving no stone unturned when it comes to the issues keeping fire and safety leaders up at night.

The event commenced with an engaging networking session in the Windsor Ballroom of this prestigious waterfront venue.

Following the networking, the conference officially began at 0900hrs with the attendees—including delegates, partners, and sponsors—being welcomed by Ian Stokes, CEO of Centurian Media, and Terry Johnson, the Conference Chair and Director of Emergency Services at Jasara, NEOM, The Line.

In his opening address, Terry Johnson extended his appreciation to the Advisory Panel, consisting of esteemed leaders from regional authorities and top companies, emphasizing their crucial role in curating a focused and impactful agenda.

He highlighted the panel’s contributions as vital for enhancing safety standards and fostering significant industry partnerships.

A highlight of the morning was a keynote address by Colonel Expert Abdul Rahman Abdul Nour Beshalat, Director of Smart Systems at Dubai Civil Defense.

His presence and insights not only underscored the conference’s importance but also enriched the dialogue on regional fire and safety challenges.

Dubai Civil Defense (DCD), the emergency management organisation in Dubai, UAE, has been an invaluable strategic partner since the first conference in 2023.

With over 35 esteemed delegates in attendance, this organisation has been at the forefront of safeguarding lives, protecting properties, and preserving the environment in Dubai since its establishment in 1976

In addition to the educational sessions, the conference provided an ideal platform for the industry’s luminaries to converge and interact.

The air was charged with excitement as professionals seized the chance to engage with one another and forge meaningful connections with their peers as well as key industry brands that had lent their support to the event.

These moments of exchange and collaboration elevated the conference to new heights, fostering an environment ripe with possibility and potential.

Thought leadership

The question posed by the conference through its presentations and discussions was ‘What is keeping leaders from the fire and safety industry up at night?’ From forever chemicals, strategic leadership, and crisis management, the leading minds of the fire and safety industry came together to ponder the biggest issues facing those in attendance.

A diverse and engaging agenda

The IFSJ Leaders in Fire & Safety Conference began with a detailed exploration of critical lessons and actionable steps derived from past fire incidents.

Sawsan Dahham, CEO of Siena, provided insights into enhancing safety protocols, underscoring the importance of learned experiences in fire safety management.

This was followed by a panel discussion on Fire Safety Management, moderated by Bob Rea, Director and Lead Facilitator at BR Training Solutions Ltd.

The panel included experts Phil Witts, COO of ATEIS, Lana Benny, Fire Protection Consultant at TERP Consulting, Tarek Al Assil, Executive Director – iFM Facilities Management, and Peter Stephenson, Director of Fire Safety Division at Hydrock who delved into strategies for maintaining safety in occupied spaces.

Edward Barnes, CTO of Reacton Fire Suppression, then delivered a critical Platinum Presentation on vehicle fire safety in the UAE.

His talk highlighted advanced safety measures and emerging technologies shaping fire safety protocols for vehicles.

Further advancing the discussion on technological impacts, a panel moderated by Alexander Castellanos, Head of Fire and Life Safety at Atkins Realis, examined the latest developments in fire protection.

The panel featured industry leaders Edward Barnes and Jason Mather, Commercial Manager at Haven Fire and Safety LLC, Sajid Raza, CEO of Butler Engineering, and Muzaffer Ahmed Syed, Regional Manager (Firestop) – fischer FZE discussing innovations in both passive and active fire protection.

Dubai Civil Defense Officer Lt.

Ali Majid provided an insight into the Dubai Civil Defense Readiness Program and the Eco Readiness App.

This initiative is dedicated to protecting lives and properties, harnessing scientific and technological advancements for proactive prediction procedures, and enhancing awareness and safety measures to reduce accidents through the use of virtual officers.

The day also included a significant discussion on mental health and suicide in the fire service sector, led by Duncan J.

White, Managing Editor at International Fire and Safety Journal.

Joined by experts Sam Malins, CEO at Reacton Fire Suppression, Mark Buckingham from Abu Dhabi Airports, Paul Pope, Global Head of Fire and Life Safety Business, Ajax Systems, and Deputy Chief (Ret) Paul Calderwood of the Everett Fire Department, Massachusetts shared their perspectives on the challenges and support mechanisms needed within the industry.

Dr Andrew Jeremijenko, Medical Advisor to the Abu Dhabi Government, presented on the health risks associated with PFAS exposure, offering strategies for mitigation, and enhancing public health safety.

A keynote address by Steve Hamm, CEO of the Institution of Fire Engineers, outlined strategic approaches for advancing fire safety through leadership and innovation, emphasizing the critical role of effective leadership in shaping fire safety practices.

A panel on equality in engineering, led by Sawsan Dahham, included notable figures Hayley Burgess, International President of the Institution of Fire Engineers, Engineer Salma Al Ali, Head of Engineering Section at DCD, and Cristina Perez Domper, Regional Manager at Intertek Building and Construction.

The discussion centered on the importance of competence over diversity in recruitment practices, aiming to enhance inclusivity and innovation within the engineering sector.

Daniel Wysokinski, Principal Testing Engineer at Emirates Safety Laboratory, discussed emerging technologies related to battery safety, highlighting the dangers and necessary precautions for handling thermal runaway scenarios.

The conference concluded with closing remarks from Duncan J.

White, who reflected on the day’s discussions and the profound insights gained, underscoring the event’s success in advancing fire and safety knowledge and practices.

First-rate networking

A key aim for the IFSJ Leaders in Fire & Safety was to bring together leaders from across, allowing them to engage with one another and open up discussion about the issues they face, facilitating engaging conversations, promoting knowledge sharing, and fostering a sense of community among delegates.

By connecting individuals with a common goal of promoting professional fire and safety practices, the conference played a pivotal role in advancing the industry and raising standards in the region.

The quality of the networking opportunities at the event was further enhanced by the exclusivity of the invite-only format.

By carefully curating the guest list, the team at IFSJ ensured that participants were senior professionals who are actively involved in shaping the industry.

This exclusivity helped to foster a focused and intimate environment, promoting meaningful connections among attendees.

The interactive panel discussions played a significant role in facilitating networking opportunities.

These sessions allowed attendees to engage with subject matter experts and gain valuable insights into the latest advancements and approaches in fire and safety.

By participating in these discussions, delegates had the opportunity to exchange ideas, perspectives, and best practices with their peers, fostering a sense of community and collaboration.

The conference’s emphasis on exploring key areas for business growth in the region created additional networking prospects as attendees connected with professionals who have a deep understanding of the fire and safety landscape in the Middle East.

The exchange of knowledge and experiences at the event has led to valuable partnerships and collaborations, contributing to the overall advancement of the fire and safety industry.

IFSJ Leaders in Fire & Safety 2025, which will take place on 8th May 2025. Register your interest here: https://ifsjleadersinfireandsafety.com/

This article was originally published in the June 2024 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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