Nov 152011

What SANS 10400: Part T 
- Fire Protection Says

House fire x630 Fire Protection

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.

Part T safety distances1 Fire Protection

Part T safety distances2 Fire Protection

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”.Part T Fire resistance of structural walls Fire Protection

This table shows what is required for “non-structural walls and partitions”.Part T Fire resistance of 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 process.Part T Basic fire safety engineering process Fire Protection





  118 Responses to “Fire Protection”

Comments (116) Pingbacks (2)
  1. Double storey woodframe house. Entrance: second storey. Folding doors on front second storey. No further stairs. Does it comply with fire regulations?

    • Jan from the little information you give it sounds as though it does – presuming it is a regular residential dwelling.

  2. Hi,

    What are the requirements for fire extinguishers in complexes or townhouses? I live in a complex with four floors and over 20 blocks. There are no fire extinguishers in the blocks. Do we need these?


    • Jayson, SANS 10400, Part T Fire Protection states that hose reels must “be installed any building of two or more storeys in height or in any single-storey building of more than 250 m2 in floor area, at a rate of one hose reel for every 500 m2 or part thereof of floor area in any storey, provided that such hose reels shall not be required in any building classified as H4 or in any dwelling unit in an occupancy classified as H3 where each unit is provided with independent access to ground level.”
      H3 = domestic residence
      H4 = dwelling house
      Your townhouses would, I think be classified H3, viz “Occupancy consisting of two or more dwelling units on a single site”.
      This section goes on to say that if “no water supply is available, two 9 kg or equivalent fire extinguishers that comply with the requirements of 4.37 shall be provided in place of each required hose reel.”
      It also states that a building classified H3 must have 1 portable fire extinguisher for every 400 square metres. Secs for “minimum charge” = water / foam 9 litres, carbon dioxide 5 kg, dry chemical powder 4.5 kg. These extinguishers must be placed “in unobstructed positions approved by the local authority.”
      AND “Any owner of any building who fails to ––
      (a) provide sufficient fire extinguishers to satisfy the requirements of subregulation T1(1)(e), or who installs fire extinguishers that do not comply with the relevant South African national standard, or who fails to ensure that such fire extinguishers are installed, maintained and serviced in accordance with SANS 10105; or
      (b) maintain any other provision made to satisfy the requirements of subregulation T1(1)(e), shall be guilty of an offense.”
      I hope that clarifies the situation.

      • Hi,

        Thanks for the reply. I think our building is classfied as H3. We currently have a fire hose on each floor. Is the requirement for fire extinguisher per 400 sq. m additional?


        • Jayson the way I read it, you need the portable extinguishers as well. I may be wrong.
          4.34 Hose reels – is one section – and I’ve given you the option there … which obviously is not relevant since you have hoses.
          4.37 Portable fire extinguishers
          4.37.1 A building that contains an occupancy given in table 11 shall, for the relevant occupancy and floor area, be provided with portable fire extinguishers in unobstructed positions approved by the local authority.
          [I gave you the requirements of Table 11 for H3. The only building in the H occupancy range that don't feature on this table are "dwelling houses" (H4) - which are regular houses that might include a garage and outbuildings.]
          4.37.2 A local authority may specify the type of portable fire extinguisher to be provided and may require that a number of fire extinguishers shall be installed in excess of the number indicated in table 11 if, in its opinion, any particular hazards or risks warrant such increase.
          4.37.3 Portable fire extinguishers installed in a building shall comply with the requirements in SANS 1910, and shall be installed, maintained and serviced by competent persons in accordance with SANS 1475-1 and SANS 10105-1.
          4.37.4 Such portable fire extinguishers shall bear a certification mark from an accredited certification body.
          4.38 Mobile fire extinguishers
          4.38.1 A fire extinguisher that exceeds the capacities prescribed in SANS 1910 or SANS 1151, as relevant, and that is fitted with wheels for transportation, shall be deemed to be a mobile fire extinguisher. Transportable, rechargeable fire extinguishers shall comply with the requirements of SANS 11601.
          4.38.2 A mobile fire extinguisher may replace half the required portable fire extinguishers as given in table 11, provided that ……. ”
          NB Table 11:

        • The National Building Regulations require fire extinguishers to be wall mounted at the hose reels at a rate of 1 x 4.5 kg DCP per 400 m² or one per floor

  3. Hi
    What are the requirements for fireproofing of old buildings with wooden ground floors with a basement underneath?

    • Niel the National Building Regulations do not cover old buildings, only the construction of new ones – and gives specifications for the way the floors are constructed and basements built to make sure that they are fireproof.
      Any basement storey which exceeds 500 m2 in floor area should have an automatic sprinkler and other fixed extinguishing systems. That could apply.
      But to do retro fireproofing you’ll need to consult with a specialist.

  4. Hi Penny

    A query regarding (4.2) Safety Distances and its application to street facing boundaries.

    The code doesn’t seem to clearly exclude a street facing boundary from the limitation to glazing/openings and the set back of the external walls as per Table 2. I have spoken to a number of professionals who agree that (4.2) relates to the prevention of fire from one property to another (joining, adjacent, abutting etc.) and not a street. (4.2.4) (b) makes mention that Table 2 does not apply to Public Places, Servitudes etc. although it is clear whether a street can be defined as either of these.

    Would you having any comments?

    • Darryl, I’d hate to hazard a guess. I have though asked another person from the industry if he has any thoughts. Let’s wait and see what he comes up with.

      • The response I have received:
        4.2.4 (b) refers to public place and includes public roads (See definitions of public place in SANS 10400)
        Public place
        Square, park, recreation ground or open space which
        a) is vested in the local authority, or
        b) the public has the right to use, or
        c) is shown on a general plan of a township filed in a deeds registry or a Surveyor-General’s office
        and has been provided or reserved for the use of the public or the owners of erven in such
        Does that help at all?

  5. Hi, Please can anyone assist me. We are managing agents for a complex. one of the owners would like to take out a pedestrian gate and further down he would like to build a wall. to close his garden off. We are now not sure if this gate is for a fire escape route. I have been contacting the fire department and Municipality and we cannot get help. We have plans showing the gate and the wall that the owner would like to put up. Anyone???

    • If it’s a complex then the fire protection issues including escape routes should surely be on the plans? If not you’ll need to get someone to track the escape routes retrospectively to ensure that you don’t close one off. If you have approved plans then I presume the owner could go ahead. I assume that as long as he can get out of the property in the event of fire – and no-one else needs to use this route there shouldn’t be any problems.

  6. Subject:
    Emereency evacuation plan

    do i need an approved fire emergency evacuation plan thats approved or can we draw one up ourselves at work.We are in a big factory with about 250 per shift we are in manufacturing industry and have a
    building of about 30×30 metres

    • Yes, the owner or the person in charge may formulate the emergency evacuation plan detailing the appropriate action to be taken by the staff or the occupants in the event of a fire or other threatening danger.
      The plan mentioned above must be revised if an aspect thereof is no longer applicable or if the building for which the plan was designed has changed.
      The emergency evacuation plan must be tested in its entirety at a maximum of six-monthly intervals or when the plan has been revised and a record of the testing must be kept in a register.
      The register must contain the following information:—
      (a) the date and time of the test;
      (b) the number of participants;
      (d) the outcome of the test and any corrective actions required, and
      (e) the name and signature of the person supervising the test.
      (6) The register, together with the emergency evacuation plan, must be available on the premises for inspection by the controlling authority.
      The controlling authority may be approached to assist or evaluate the formulation and implementation of the emergency evacuation plan and may officially communicate any recommendations or remedial actions to improve or rectify faults in the plan.
      Consultants or your local disaster management / Fire department should be able to assist you
      Please forward me the details. I will send you an example that can be adopted for your premises
      Barend Esterhuizen

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