Today’s fire that engulfed a residential tower in London has once again raised the issue of how building norms are often violated by its owners and by real estate companies, looking at quick construction time at lower costs.
The National Building Code 2016 (NBC) and separate building by-laws lay down the guidelines and provisions for regulating and preventing fire in India. The NBC provides with the guidelines for victims as well as the firemen in case of an emergency and the by-laws state the administrative powers of fire officials.
Here’s a quick look at what the rules say about fire safety in residential buildings.
Is your residential building fire equipped?
Apart from lifts used by the residents of the building, the NBC provides for separate fire lifts in high rise buildings exclusively for firemen in case of an emergency. Automatic closing doors, a capacity not less than 545 kg (applicable for 8 persons), separate electric supply for the lift and incase of power failure- an automatically changeover to alternate supply are the few conditions which need to be fulfilled for the construction of a fire lift. Speed of the fire lift will be more than a regular lift, which could take the firemen from ground floor to the top floor within a span of a minute.
NBC also provides regulations for the construction of staircases in buildings for the rampant use of stairwells during emergency situations. Brick staircases shall be constructed with a ventilation at each landing and glazed and glass staircases must be fire resistant for minimum two hours.
Heavy static water storage in the form of underground water should be made available in buildings to fight fire at the rate of 1000 liters per minute. The building should install automatic sprinklers in the basements used for car parking or storage occupancy exceeding 200m.
Residential buildings shall be provided with two means of exit on the ground floor, out of which one should have an exit through the interior stairwell or a door for unobstructed travel to the street. Similar rules are applicable to educational buildings, institutional and assembly occupancies and business and industrial buildings.
What laws to follow in case of a fire?
Every city with their specific building by-laws regulates fire norms and lays down provisions for the protection of people such as Development Control Regulations for Mumbai 2016, Andhra Pradesh Building Rules 2012 and Master plan for Hyderabad Urban Development Area.
Among the existing laws regulating and preventing fire in the national capital are the Delhi Fire Service Act 2007 (Delhi Act of 2009) and Delhi Fire Service Rules 2010. These enactments were a replacement of Delhi Fire Service Prevention & Fire Safety Act, 1986, which now stands repealed.
Defining building by-laws, fire zone and including explosive and explosive substance, the Delhi Fire Service Act 2007 (Delhi Act of 2009) also lists the constitution of fire divisions and fire stations including appointments of fire directors and officials. The said Act and the Delhi Fire Service Rules 2010 deal with administrative powers of the fire service officers and their appointments.