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



Refuse Disposal



  238 Responses to “Fire Protection”

Comments (232) Pingbacks (6)
  1. What colour are the fire doors suppose to be?

    • I can’t find anything specifying the colour of fire doors in the NBR, however there is another SANS where you might find this information: SANS 1253, Fire-doors and fire-shutters. Unfortunately I don’t have a copy and so can’t check it for you. You can buy a copy from the SABS or go to one of their libraries and have a look there.

  2. Please advise. My daughter is a student renting an old house in Grahamstown. I very much doubt that this house meets the standards for fire safety. What recourse do we have to ensure that this house is made safe?

  3. Hallo,

    Could you please confirm if there are any law, regulation or statutory requirement for the testing of performance specification compliance of an installed fire system at industrial or commercial sites e. g. malls or plants.

    An example would be: A site has an installed fire fighting capacity (fire water pumps and reticulation circuit) of X liters per minute / hour or whatever performance metric refers to the deliverable flow in the rteticulation circuit. My question is therefore, are sites required, by law, to verify the performance of these installations and prove the deluge system will operate, as designed, through annual performance checks.

    The checks I am referring to would, for instance, verify the motor / engine (pump driver) condition is suitable for reliable on-demand operation and that the flow through the reticulation circuit is as per the design specification.

    I would be highly appreciative if you could refer me to the correct standard / regulation / law.

    Thank you in advance.


    • Part T: Fire Protection of the National Building Regulations. You can get it from the SABS

      • Hi there

        Can a staff member be trained to evacuate someone stuck in a lift?

        And if so where can I get more information regarding the training.

  4. I am trying to find out is their is a law stating water storage tanks have to be kept on the roof of buildings in relation to their height. Basically what are the requirements

    • I am not aware of anything in the NBR that relates to water storage tanks. Contact the SABS and see if they can locate any relevant SANS. Best if you go into one of their libraries to do this if you are able to.

  5. Good morning,
    I would like to know what the regulations are in terms of specifications of Fire Doors and insulation.
    If I could be given an email address for someone I could obtain this information from please?
    Thanking you

    • This is covered in the Building Regs but there may be additional SANS as well. I suggest you contact the SABS for advice and info – better still go to one of their offices.

  6. Hi there,
    Is it against the law as regulations if a residential complex of over 150 flats does not have any fire hoses or hydrants to put a fire out in one of the flats?
    Is it against the law to have no official fire fighting equipment within the public area of the residential complex?
    Can the building management or agents be taken to court?

    • The complex MUST comply with the regulations and if they haven’t then yes they can be taken to court.

      • Thank you Penny for letting me know.
        What kind of lawyer handles this kind of case? Is there a specific kind that I need to consult? A claims lawyer? I would be so grateful for your response.

  7. good day ,i hope someone can assist me regarding the following :do the National Building Regulations apply to the organs of the state (Government) of S.A I iI do have a situation whereby a post office building do not comply with part T

    • Hi Llewellyn, ALL BUILDINGS in South Africa have to adhere to the National Building Regulations. You have to put your objection into your local authority planning department.

  8. we are considering installing a door between the kitchen and the garage
    is fire door required by law

  9. Where Can I get to understand what the following requirements are; Is there a manual that tells me what this is?
    Hose Reels T 4.34
    Provision of escape routes T4.16
    Stairways and other changes of level- escape routes T4.23
    change in level to comply to T4.23.8

    • Frank, these references are all to parts of Part T of SANS 10400. You can get a copy of it from the SABS – either from one of their offices (from the library) or online. It costs R517,56.

  10. Do visible fire hose reels have to be painted red? Where does it stipulate so?

    • Muhammad there is nothing in Part T of SANS 10400 (viz Fire Protection) that specifies the colour of fire hose reels, however there is reference to other SANS that may make this specification. For your information:
      “4.34 Hose reels
      4.34.2 Any hose reel installed in such building shall comply with the requirements in SANS 543, shall be installed in accordance with SANS 10105-1 and SANS 10400-W, and shall be maintained in accordance with the requirements in SANS 1475-2.”
      I suggest you visit your nearest SABS library and check these additional standards.

  11. What is the width of a final fire escape door? I heard that it has been increased to 1500mm???
    What is the thickness of such a door? I heard it is 25mm???
    And would such a door with its width at 1500mm become a rebated double door???

    • Where the population of any room is not more than 25 persons, the clear width of any exit door shall be not less than 750 mm. Where two or more exit doors are required, they shall be positioned as far apart as is practicable, but not closer than 5 m from each other. I don’t think it is thickness as such that is important, but rather the need for fire resistant materials to be used. If you want to know more, I suggest you go to an SABS library and have a look at Part T of SANS 10400 – or buy a copy of it.

  12. Hi

    We are busy renovating the middle floor of a 3-floor building where we rent the middle & top floors for business pursuits i.e. we are only occupied from 08h00 to 18h00 Monday to Friday.

    The architect has told us that we require a fire door to be fitted to the [glass & aluminium] entrance way on the middle floor. The entrance way is in a stairwell that services all three floors.

    There is a fully functioning fire escape at the back of each floor i.e. escape doors, & stairs to evacuation area.

    There is NO fire door on the ground or top floors.

    Can you please advise whether or not the architect is correct, or where one can review the regulations on this issue [for Cape Town]. This must be something other than the SANS 10400 documention which only deals with the TYPE of fire door to be fitted, but not WHEN such a fire door should be fitted.

    Thanks in advance

    • Rob the National Building Regulations are the same for all parts of the country. If there is anything specific to Cape Town this would be contained in the City’s bylaws – and you would contact them for details. SANS 1253, Fire-doors and fire-shutters looks as if it might deal with type – and/or materials and quality. All fire doors must conform to this standard. Click the link and go to preview. Just for the record, the definitions of fire door and fire shutter are:
      “automatic or self-closing door or shutter assembly especially constructed to prevent the passage of fire for a specific length of time”
      Have you looked at the SANS 10400 documentation, viz. Part T: Fire Protection?
      I realize your building is not residential but if it was, “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.” I mention this because it seems to me that the most important factor is fire resistance rather than type of door as such. It also states that “Any solid timber door constructed with double rebated joints, that have a thickness of not less than 40 mm, shall be deemed to comply with the requirement of 4.9.2 for a rating of 30 min.”
      Also this part of SANS 10400 gives guidelines in terms of escape routes, exit doors etc.

  13. Hi, hope the forum can assist. I am trying to find legislation where it specifically says that companies need to do fire training/Evac training. This does not exist in the Ohs act and was directed to the sans act. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

    • This is not covered in the National Building Regulations. Further, SANS is not an Act. The various South African National Standards (SANS) either give guidelines in terms of how the law (e.g. The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act) is deemed to be satisfied, or to explain what the requirements of a particular SANS is.
      Why not contact your local fire department and ask them for advice. Alternatively ask the local authority – it may well be a bylaw.

  14. What should the distance be between tempory housing erected by local municipalities and under wich section of sans will i find it.

  15. Hi All. I have a client that wants to build a new garage attached to his house that is going to house an Astin Martin. He wants to have glazing between the house and the garage so that it is visible from the inside – are there applicable Fire Regulations here? I know that a half hour rating is needed on the door but have no experience with glazing between. Is this even allowed? Thanks.

    • This is a tricky one! 😀 I would suggest contacting one of the major laminate glass manufacturers as they will have their Agrement certificates to hand and will be able to tell you right away. Here are two: Glass South Africa and PFG

 Leave a Reply


(required but will remain confidential and not be published)