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Senior professionals came together for the first ever IFSJ Leaders in Fire & Safety Conference

On the 11 May 2023, a remarkable gathering of fire and safety industry leaders took place at the prestigious Grosvenor Hotel in Dubai Marina, UAE. The event that unfolded was the highly anticipated, inaugural IFSJ Leaders in Fire & Safety Conference, organised by International Fire & Safety Journal in collaboration with MSA Safety. With an impressive turnout of 308 esteemed senior professionals from the Middle East and Africa fire and safety industry, it was a day brimming with extraordinary opportunities for high-level networking and captivating discussions.

The attendees, comprising influential decision makers in the field, were treated to an immersive experience characterised by expert presentations and engaging panel sessions. These sessions delved into the most pressing issues currently faced by leaders in the fire and safety sector, including health and wellbeing, sustainability, 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.

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.

A historic event

Dubai Civil Defense (DCD), the emergency management organisation in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has been an invaluable strategic partner throughout the conference. With over 50 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.

Setting the tone for the conference, H.E. Lt. General Expert Rashid Thani Al Matrooshi, Director-General of Dubai Civil Defense, delivered a warm and engaging welcome address via video, extending his heartfelt wishes for attendees to have a truly fruitful and amazing time. H.E. Brigadier Expert Ali Hassan Al Mutawa, Assistant Director General of DCD for Fire and Rescue Affairs, gave a captivating keynote address expressing his great pleasure at being amongst so many stars at the Leaders in Fire and Safety Conference.

A pivotal moment unfolded during the event as a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Dubai Civil Defense and the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE). This momentous occasion established a platform for the exchange of knowledge, learning, and best practices between these two esteemed organisations. The MoU was signed by the presence of Terry Johnson, IFE GCC Branch Regional President, H.E. Brigadier Expert Ali Hassan Al Mutawa, and Steve Hamm, Chief Executive of the IFE, who hailed the MoU as a ‘key milestone’ in their collaboration.

Through this MoU, the IFE will establish a branch in Dubai, fostering a vibrant environment for continuous professional development. His Excellency emphasised that DCD is an open platform, eager to engage with counterparts from across the globe. Brigadier Expert Al Mutawa underscored the significance of this partnership: “The new interactive platform will enable members to exchange invaluable best practices and lessons learned from their vast experiences.”

One of the day’s highlights was the presentation on the Dubai Civil Defence’s Readiness Programme. Captain Essa Ahmed Al-Mutawa, Director of the Control and Monitoring Department at DCD, unveiled the world’s first AI-enabled fire readiness programme. This ground-breaking initiative employs artificial intelligence to analyse past incidents and provide proactive recommendations to prevent future events.

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 in firefighting foam to 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 panel discussion on the impact of sustainability on fire and life safety management in buildings and construction highlighted the challenges of fire safety in repurposed buildings and emphasised the need for resource availability for future generations. Other discussions focused on the rapid pace of technological advancements and how they are transforming the fire safety industry, emphasising the importance of balancing innovation with survivability, and the challenges of transportation infrastructure and evacuating large transportation hubs.

IFSJ Managing Editor Duncan J. White led the day’s most heartfelt session on “Health and Wellbeing: Dealing with the human issues” in which panellists shared personal experiences highlighting the impact of mental and physical health on leadership and emphasising the critical role of good health in making sound decisions.

Lithium-ion batteries and forever chemicals were also under the spotlight as speakers explored safety, environmental, and social factors related to lithium-ion battery use, highlighting the need for public awareness and improved regulations the health impacts and the delicate balance between legislation and responsible practices around PFAS in firefighting foam.

And of course leadership came under scrutiny as experts debated the crucial role of crisis management in risk management strategies, the need for proper training to ensure effective response during crises, and the importance of consistency in leadership.

First-rate networking

A key aim for the IFSJ Leaders in Fire & Safety was to bring together Leaders from across, giving them the opportunity 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, 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.

The best event in years

The IFSJ Leaders in Fire & Safety Conference held in Dubai garnered high praise from key industry figures, who lauded its execution, networking opportunities, and focus on important topics.

Paul Davison, CEO at Proteus Communications Group, with his three-decade experience in marketing, attested to the exceptional organization of the event. He stated: “the Leaders in Fire & Safety Conference here in Dubai has been one of the best organised and executed events I’ve been to in this region or indeed anywhere over the last few years.” Similarly, Paul Pope, Group Business Development Director at Global Fire Equipment, admired IFSJ’s organisation skills, calling the event “truly incredible”.

Networking was also a strong highlight, with Even Ottsen, International Sales Manager at Fomtec, acknowledging the conference as a: “great opportunity to meet important people in the industry”. Sam Malins, Group CEO at Reacton Fire Suppression, shared this sentiment, highlighting the coming together of: “So many passionate people from around the fire safety industry in one room.”

The conference’s diverse agenda was another point of praise. Beyond networking and industry discussions, the conference also addressed health and wellbeing in the workplace, as Sawsan Dahham, Head of Fire and Life Safety at Dar, appreciated.

Sponsors also found value in the event. Amin Muhtaseb, Regional Manager at Nightstick, stated: “We’ve been a sponsor this year and it’s been a great event. Thanks to the team for organising and all the communication that happened beforehand – we look forward to being here next year.”

This exclusive article was originally published in the June 2023 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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