Legislation and Information

STATISTICS

By taking a few simple steps to reduce fire risks, you can prevent fires breaking out.
When you consider that 70% of businesses in South Africa that experience fire damage either fail to reopen, or close within three years, after a fire, taking the time to do a fire risk assessment makes sense. Apart from the financial benefits to be gained from a risk management assessment.

LEGISLATION
 

PORTABLE FIRE EXTINGUISHERS – SITTING AND GENERAL INSPECTION

 

Distribution

The distribution of extinguishers is dependent on several factors including the risk to be protected, Floor area and individual practical considerations.  SABS 0400: The application of the National Building Regulations and SABS 0105: The classification, use and control of fire-fighting equipment guide the provision of portable fire extinguishers.

The following are examples for some of the more common occupancy types.

EXTINGUISHER PROVISION

 

Examples of Quantities, Rating & Distribution of Portable Fire Extinguishers in various occupancy classes

Classification of Occupancies

Number of Portable Fire Extinguishers relative to Floor area

CO 2

2 kg

CO 2

4.5kg

DCP

4.5kg

DCP

9kg

High Risk Commercial.
High / Moderate Risk Industrial.
High Risk Storage.

1/100 m2

 

x

 

x

Place of instruction.
Shops.
Wholesalers.
Moderate Risk Commercial.
Low Risk Industrial.
Offices.

1/200 m2

x

x

x

x

Outdoor Sport.
Low Risk Commercial.
Parking Garage.

1/400 m2

 

x

x

x

Fire Hose Reel

1/500 m2

 

 

 

 

Servicing

Once a year

x

x

x

x

 

Maintenance

 

It is important that extinguishers be maintained in accordance with SABS 1475: The Production of Reconditioned Fire – Fighting Equipment and the Occupational Health and Safety Act as amended.
 

NATIONAL BUILDING REGULATIONS AND BUILDING STANDARDS ACT NO. 103 OF 1977 (as amended)
 

PART T – FIRE PROTECTION

T1 GENERAL REQUIREMENT

(1)  Any building shall be so designed, constructed and equipped that in case of fire –

  • the protection of occupants of users, including persons with disabilities, therein is ensured and that provision is made for the safe evacuation of such occupants or users:
  • the spread and intensity of such fire within such building and the spread of fire to any other building will be minimized;
  • sufficient stability will be retained to ensure that such building will not endanger any other building:  Provided that the case of any multi-storey building no major failure of the structural system shall occur,
  • the generation and spread of smoke will be minimized or controlled to the greatest extent reasonably practicable; and
  • adequate means of access, and equipment for detecting, fighting, controlling and extinguishing such fire, is provided.
  1. The requirements of sub-regulation (1) shall be deemed to be satisfied where the design, construction and equipment of any building complies with SANS 10400-T: Provided that where any local authority is of the opinion that such compliance would not comply with all the requirements of sub-regulation (1), such local authority shall, in writing, notify the owner of the building of its reasons for its opinion and may require to submit for approval a rational design prepared by an approved competent person.

T1 GENERAL REQUIREMENT

  1. Any  owner of any building who fails to-
  • provide sufficient fire extinguishers to satisfy the requirements of sub-regulation 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
  • maintain any other provision made to satisfy the requirements of sub-regulation T1 (1) (e), shall be guilty of an offence.
  1. Any person who causes or permits any escape route to be rendered less effective or to be obstructed in any way which may hinder or prevent the escape of any person from a building in the case of fire or any other emergency shall be guilty of an offence.

INFORMATION

Posted on 17 October 2011

Recent incidences of shopping malls found to have inadequate fire-safety standards in place have highlighted the importance of businesses adhering to fire safety regulations. South African businesses are urged to comply with fire regulations or bear the risk of major financial outlay and liability due to damaged property and assets or human lives.

Over the course of the past few months, Long Beach Mall, Maynard Mall, as well as the Fruit and Veg City and Sportsman’s Warehouse in the Tokai on Main shopping centre in the Western Cape have all recently been shut down for a period after city fire safety inspectors found the fire detection systems and smoke detectors not in working order.

Manuel Chikwanda, Senior Risk Engineer at Lion of Africa Insurance, says these incidences raise some major concerns regarding the readiness of many businesses to deal with unexpected fire. He says as fire season approaches – especially in fire-prone areas such as the Western and Eastern Cape, businesses need to take the necessary steps to ensure that all fire safety assessments are conducted and that standards are met.

The cost of non-compliance far exceeds the cost of compliance when you consider the loss of profits, operational delays and reputational damage that occurs when a centre is shut down by the authorities. Businesses must not fool themselves that they are saving money by ignoring fire-safety requirements, says Chikwanda.

According to Chikwanda, shopping centres and big retailers should regularly assess their fire safety procedures. This means ensuring that there are approved fire protections in place and provision of safe passage for all people in an emergency. He recommends that a number of bodies, such as the Automatic Sprinkler Inspection Bureau, Fire Detection Installers Association, and Fire Protection Association of Southern Africa can be approached for professional assessment of fire safety.

“Insurance companies and brokers also have in-house risk engineering teams that also assist with assessing fire safety adequacy at shopping centres and large retailers,” he says.

According to Chikwanda, some aspects of fire safety require daily attention. He believes it is these issues that are often neglected by companies because they do not form a part of the organisation’s key tasks.

“Checking that exit doors and escape routes are free of obstacles and work smoothly as well as testing public address systems should become a part of a business’s daily routines. However, a full fire safety assessment should be scheduled for a shopping centre at least once every year,” he says.

Chikwanda says that in many cases business owners are not aware of the insurance implications of not having sufficient fire protection in place. He explains that the contract of insurance places the duty of care upon the insured, which generally encompasses compliance with relevant statutory requirements for prevention of loss, as well as other best practice requirements that could be imposed by insurers.

Not having sufficient fire protection in place could therefore be construed as a breach of the insurance contract, Chikwanda says, and at worst could result in claims not being honoured. “Inadequate fire protection always results in the severity of loss being much higher than it would otherwise have been. This high loss ratio consequently results in an increased cost of insurance in subsequent periods,” says Chikwanda.