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The last thing any business needs or wants is for it to go up in flames. This is why there are very strict Regulations when it comes to fire safety and protection against fire in any building in South Africa.

Massive fire at a container depot/warehouse in Bluff Durban

What the Act Says

Essentially the legislation is concerned quite simply with the need for all buildings to be designed, constructed and equipped so that in the event of fire:

  1. the occupants or people using the building will be protected – including persons with disabilities;

  2. the spread and intensity of any fire within buildings, and the spread of fire to any other buildings, will be minimized;

  3. sufficient stability will be retained to ensure that such building will not endanger any other building: provided that in the case of any multi-storey building no major failure of the structural system shall occur;

  4. the generation and spread of smoke will be minimized or controlled to the greatest extent reasonably practicable; and

  5. adequate means of access, and equipment for detecting, fighting, controlling and extinguishing such fire, is provided.

The requirements of the Act will be deemed to have been satisfied if the design, construction and equipment of buildings complies with SANS 10400 Part T and satisfies the local authority.

The Act also specifies several offences that owners of buildings need to avoid, including the need for fire extinguishers that comply with SANS 10105. Also, if people do anything to obstruct escape routes in buildings, they will be guilty of an offense.

What the Standard Says

The regulations for Fire Protection are contained in a 91 page document published by the SABS, SANS 10400: Part T Fire Protection.

SANS 10400 Part T is broken down into several parts:


The bulk of the Standard is made up of a vast number of different “requirements” that relate not only to dwelling houses, but to every other possible type of building, from hospitals to parking garages.The requirements for effective fire protection include:

  • general requirements,

  • regulations relating to safety distances,

  • fire performance,

  • fire resistance of occupancy-separating and division-separating elements,

  • fire stability of structural elements or components,

  • tenancy-separating elements,

  • partition walls and partitions,

  • protection of openings (Note that the drawings in SANS 10400 – 1990 that illustrate this have not changed),

  • raised access and suspended floors of combustible material,

  • roof assemblies and coverings (the drawings remain unchanged in the new version of the Standard) including thatch,

  • ceilings,

  • floor coverings,

  • internal finishes,

  • provision of escape routes,

  • exit doors,

  • feeder routes,

  • emergency routes,

  • dimensions of components of escape routes,

  • width of escape routes,

  • basements,

  • stairways and other changes of level along escape routes (the drawing that shows the position of doors in relation to a change in level has not changed),

  • ventilation of stairways in an emergency route,

  • pressurization of emergency routes and components,

  • openings in floors,

  • external stairways and passages,

  • lobbies, foyers and vestibules,

  • marking and signposting,

  • provision of emergency lighting,

  • fire detection and alarm systems,

  • provision and maintenance of fire-fighting equipment, installations and fire protection systems,

  • water reticulation for fire-fighting purposes,

  • hose reels,

  • hydrants,

  • automatic sprinkler and other fixed extinguishing systems,

  • portable fire extinguishers,

  • mobile fire extinguishers,

  • fire-stopping of inaccessible concealed spaces,

  • protection in service shafts,

  • services in structural or separating elements,

  • smoke control,

  • air-conditioning systems and artificial ventilation systems,

  • lift shafts,

  • lifts,

  • firemen’s lift,

  • stretcher lift,

  • stage and backstage areas,

  • eating arrangements in auditoriums or halls and on grandstands,

  • parking garages,

  • operating theaters and intensive, high or critical care units,

  • installation of liquid fuel dispensing pumps and tanks,

  • installation of other tanks,

  • warehousing of dangerous goods,

  • dangerous goods signage,

  • access for fire-fighting and rescue purposes,

  • resumed fire resistance of building materials and components,

  • building materials,

  • guest houses and bed and breakfast accommodation (this is completely new),

  • health care facilities (this is also completely new).

Safety Distances

Although there are other provisions, including the classification of the type of external wall, the table below may be used to establish safety distances where walls do not contain windows or other openings. For ordinary “dwelling houses” where the area of elevation facing any boundary is not more than 7,5m2, such safety distance may be reduced to 0,5m.

Fire Resistance

There are several tables (five in all) that indicate requirements for compliance with “Presumed fire resistance of building materials and components”.

This table shows what is required for “structural walls”.

This table shows what is required for “non-structural walls and partitions”.

Rational Designs

The design requirements include the need for a competent person to ensure that the level of fire safety is adequate. This is particularly important in large and public buildings.

This drawing shows the basic fire safety engineering process.

For more help and or information with your fire protection legislation contact one of our sales consultants. Tel: 011 826 5959

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