Basic Understanding – National Building Code of India

According to the statutory reports, the fire incident investigation highlights issues such as non-compliant construction; lack of precautionary safety procedures and inadequate recording of incidents. Fire disasters have massive human and economic costs, so anticipating the potential consequences of disasters can help us to determine the actions that shall be taken to minimize its effects. Prevention planning of identifying the fire hazard, evaluating its risk, and procedure to handle the consequences is the responsibility of safety representatives.

Understanding fire hazards and installing the proper fire safety equipment to limit the fire risks is an important aspect of fire safety procedures. Having the right equipment in place and proper maintenance is basic part of any fire safety plan. Authorities shall ensure that proper fire safety equipment installations to make sure its occupants are safe from fire hazards.

Every country has governing guidelines and specifications laid down for the premises and buildings. Let us understand the fire safety governing guidelines for regulating building construction activities in India.

The National Building Code of India, 2016

The National Building Code of India (NBC) is a comprehensive building code, providing guidelines for regulating building construction activities across the country. It serves as a Model Code for adoption by all agencies involved in building construction works.

According to NBC Buildings are classified according to use or the character of occupancy in one of the following groups:

Group A Residential Group D Assembly Group G Industrial
Group B Educational Group E Business Group H Storage
Group C Institutional Group F Mercantile Group J Hazardous

The building code mainly contains administrative regulations, development control rules, and general building requirements; fire safety requirements; stipulations regarding materials, structural design, and construction (including safety); building and plumbing services; approach to sustainability; and asset and facility management.

The National Building Code of India broadly covers the following areas:

Fire prevention:

This covers aspects of fire prevention pertaining to the design and construction of buildings. It also describes the various types of buildings materials and their fire rating.

Life Safety:

This covers life safety provisions in the event of fire and similar emergencies, also addressing construction and occupancy features that are necessary to minimize danger to life from fire, smoke, fumes or panic.

Fire Protection:

Covers significant appurtenances (accessories) and their related components and guidelines for selecting the correct type of equipment and installations meant for fire protection of the building, depending upon the classifications and type of building.

The guidelines for fire drills and evacuations for high-rise buildings are also specified in NBC Part 4. It mandates the appointment of a qualified fire officer and trained staff for significant occupancies.

NBC Part 4 – Fire and Life safety specifies the demarcation of fire zones, restrictions on construction of buildings in each fire zone, classification of buildings based on occupancy, types of building construction according to the fire resistance of the structural and non-structural components and other restrictions.

According to the Part 4 of the NBC, “Every building shall be constructed, equipped, maintained and operated as to avoid undue danger to the life and safety of the occupants from fire, smoke, fumes or panic during the time necessary for escape.”

An emergency plan for orderly and systematic evacuation shall be prepared, and fire drills should be conducted at least once in six months. The code says that no alterations should be made in a building to reduce the number, width or protection of exits.

Automatic fire detection, and alarm facilities are a must as per the guidelines in fire and life safety part of the NBC. Based on the occupancy use and height, all the buildings have to be protected by fire extinguishers, wet risers, automatic sprinkler installations, water sprays, etc.

The NBC regulations can be immediately adopted or enacted for use by various departments, municipal administrations, public, and private bodies. It lays down a set of minimum provisions designed to protect the safety of the public with regard to structural sufficiency, fire hazards and health aspects of buildings.

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