Nov 152011

What SANS 10400: Part T 
– Fire Protection Says

Nobody wants to see their house or business premises go up in flames. That is why there are very strict Regulations when it comes to Fire Safety in any building in South Africa.

Nobody wants to see their house or business premises 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.

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. Much of the information is the same as that published in the 1990 version of the Standard that you can download from this site.

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 theatres 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 7,5 m2, such safety distance may be reduced to 0,5 m.

Fire safety distances

Fire safety distances

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”.fire protection

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

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 protection



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  238 Responses to “Fire Protection”

Comments (232) Pingbacks (6)
  1. What extinguishers are required in the case of an electric fire? Urgent response please.

    • The SANS 10400 deals with the construction, quantities and placement of fire equipment and not with the class of extinguisher. You will need to see SANS 1910. As far as I am aware the two types that are used for electrical fires are CO2 (carbon dioxide) and Dry Chemical Powder portable extinguishers. Contact one of the experts:

    • The cheapest would be a normal DCP powder Extinguisher. You can use them for Class A – (Ash), Class B – (Liquid Fires) and Class C – Electrical fires.

      The problem is the white powder – the clean-up afterwards could be tedious.

      A CO2 extinguisher can also be used – but with caution.

      Best Regards

  2. Can you please confirm what section in the NBR Fire Protection Systems – service date for sprinkler systems?

    Need urgent reply.

    Thank You.

    • The SANS 10400-Part T only deals with the building, escape routes, number of extinguishers per sq m etc etc. The maintenance of sprinklers is part of a different SANS that we do not deal with on this site but it could be SANS 10287 that covers maintenance by a competent person.

    • Fire Sprinkler Control Valve must be serviced by an ASIB approved person every three years,
      The Fire Sprinkler Pump needs to be serviced every year.

      SANS 10287

      • Thanks for giving advice on this Antonie, as it is out of our field all contributions are welcome. Ntobe Fire Control contact: 013 754 6674

  3. Hi
    I would like to find out something. WE have moved to a new business premises abut 7 years ago. We use the warehouse for the storage of diapers and pads. WE have an existing sprinkler system bt it is not operational. According to the fire Marshall that gave us an inspection report he says that we need to have the sprinklers in working order. The building is more than 200m square
    Is it correct as per the fire marshall and could you give me some reference points please

    • The fire regulations are very strict and if that is what the fire marshall says must happen then yes the sprinkler needs to work. You can read more here: fire-protection BTW if the sprinkler is not working then you will not be covered by your insurance if you do have a fire.

  4. Hi,

    Could you please tell me what the requirements for fire suppression and protection is for commercial kitchens.

    • When it comes to fire regulations the local municipality building inspectors must inspect the site and make their recommendations because each and every site is unique and there cannot be one rule for all.

  5. Can any of you tell me at a pyrotechnical plant (factory) what the requirement is in distance between fire hydrants.

    • This is specific to each installation. The SANS10400 Part-W says: “so many isolating valves shall be provided to control the flow of water to the installation, and to such points within the installation, as the local authority may require” So it is up to each site to be inspected by the local authority and make their reccomendations. There are specialist fire installation companies that can advise you about your specific site.

  6. Hi Guys
    What is the fire escape regulation for burglar bars at windows in a residential building?

    • If you mean what do you do if a window has burglar bars and there’s a fire, then you need to follow an accepted escape route. But these apply to commercial and business rather than residential buildings. In a house burglar bars are not mandatory. You need to consider your options in terms of security and risk of fire.

  7. Hi I would just like to find out where to look for regulations concerning the tampering of fire equipment and The prosecution of offenders

    • Apologies for the delay in responding. The only thing I can point you towards is the fact that Part T of SANS 10400 that states you cannot use the water that forms part of a fire installation for anything other than fighting fires. Alert the local authority as it is they that must prosecute.

  8. Hi Guys,

    What is the standard building line for a thatched roof, if there is any?

    • Hi Cristo, The standard building lines for dwelling houses are 3,5m from street boundaries and 3,0m from common boundaries and going up to 6,0m depending on the size of the property. By-laws do not refer to roof type and building lines. Thatch roofs need to be treated with fire retardant.

  9. Hi Guys

    I would just like to know what the law is regarding a pump house for our sprinkler system. Does it need to be tested on a regular basis, and who needs to test it?

    • Rudi there is no reference to pump houses in the building regulations. It stands to reason that all fire protection equipment should be tested regularly to ensure it is in working order. I have no idea who would do this though.

      • Rudi,

        Contact ASIB Automatic sprinkler installation bureau or any fire servicing company registered with ASIB.

    • Rudi

      In accordance with ASIB regulations is Sprinkler system required to be tested/service:

      a) Sprinkler Control Valve – every 3 years
      b) Pump House – yearly

      Please contact me on email for assistance regarding any services on sprinkler or conventional fire eequipment

    • Sprinkler Pumps need to be tested on a weekly basis.
      Pumps must be serviced every year
      Sprinkler control valves must be serviced minimum every three years

      • Thanks for the heads-up on this Antonie. I see you are with Ntobe Fire Control and customers can contact you on 013 754 6674

  10. Good afternoon. I have a tenant who says I need a firewall withing my house which goes to the ceiling. Could you enlighten me as to what eaxctly I should have as we bought the place as it stands. it is a three bed, two bath place with kitchen and lounge.


    • No Dean it doesn’t sound as if you do. Most “firewalls” are between the garage and house because of the danger of petrol or diesel – both of which are flammable.
      In Part T (Fire Protection) of SANS 10400, under 4.9 Partition walls and partitions, it states that all partition walls “a) shall have a nominal fire resistance of not less than 30 min and be non-combustible, or
      b) where combustible materials are present, shall not contribute a fire load of more than 5 kg/m2 of floor area in a division”
      “4.9.2 In any building classified as H3 or H4 [NB – H3 = domestic residence; H4 = dwelling house a) below, would be what we call a “firewall”, but this word – firewall – doesn’t appear in the regulations. There are tables in the regulations that specify the need for ALL walls to be fire resistant to certain specifications. An occupancy certificate would not have been granted for the house if it had not been built according to these regulations.]
      a) any separating element (wall and floor) between any garage that is not large enough to be classified as J4 and any habitable room shall have a fire resistance of not less than 30 min and the wall shall extend to the underside of the roof;
      b) any door between such garage and any such room shall have a fire resistance of not less than 30 min and such doorway shall require a threshold of not less than 10 mm; and.
      c) no combustible roof components shall penetrate the separating element dividing the space between the garage and the habitable room.”

  11. Hi
    Is it illegal to use firehoses as a means for water supply for other than a fire? e.g. Building construction/ repairs or cleaning?

    • Barend Esterhuizen was good enough to answer your query. He says:
      “It is illegal to use or tamper with fire any protection equipment except as may be necessary during emergencies, maintenance, drills or prescribed testing. A person that fails to comply is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine or even imprisonment as prescribed in the Fire Brigade Services Act.”
      So the short answer is yes it is illegal!

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