Fire Safety Regulations in India

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What’s in today’s article?

  • Background
  • Fire Safety Regulations in India
  • About the National Building Code
  • Challenges Associated with Fire Safety in India


  • The recent fire tragedies at a gaming zone in Gujarat’s Rajkot and a children’s hospital in Delhi have claimed the lives of at least 40 people in a span of 24 hours.
  • This has shifted the spotlight on fire safety regulations and the need for stringent enforcement of safety measures, particularly in buildings vulnerable to man-made disasters.
  • According to the latest Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India (ADSI) Report, released by the National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB), as many as 7,435 people were killed in over 7,500 fire accidents in 2022.

Fire Safety Regulations in India

  • Published in 1970, the National Building Code (NBC) is India's central standard for fire safety. It was last updated in 2016.
  • It provides detailed guidelines for general construction, maintenance, and fire safety of buildings.
  • State governments are required to incorporate NBC recommendations into local building bylaws, as fire services are a state subject.
  • The 'Model Building Bye Laws 2016' guide states and urban areas in drafting building bylaws.
  • Apart from that, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) also provides guidelines on fire safety in homes, schools, and hospitals.

About the National Building Code

  • The National Building Code outlines measures to ensure fire safety, focusing on measures that can be reasonably achieved.
  • It defines fire zones, such as residential areas and educational institutions, to prevent industrial and hazardous structures from coexisting with residential, institutional, and business buildings.
  • The Code also categorizes buildings into nine groups based on occupancy, such as hotels, hospitals, and assembly buildings.
  • It emphasizes the use of non-combustible materials and minimum 120-minute rating for internal walls in staircase enclosures.
  • The Code also outlines maximum height, floor area ratio, open spaces, and fire-resistant openings.
  • The Code emphasizes the importance of flame-retardant electrical installation, with medium and low voltage wiring in separate shafts and false ceilings.
  • All metallic items should be bonded to the earthing system.
  • An emergency power-supplying distribution system is recommended for critical requirements, including exit signage, lighting, fire alarm systems, and public address systems.
  • The Code also recommends technologies for fire protection, such as automatic fire detection systems, down-comer pipelines, sprinklers, fireman's lifts, fire barriers, and escape routes.

Challenges Associated with Fire Safety in India

  • Fire safety rules in all states, including the National Building Code (NBC), are often ignored due to the absence of uniform safety legislation and the NBC being a "recommendatory document."
  • Even mandatory certifications are not complied with. Fire safety audits are underutilized due to the failure of local bodies to conduct regular checks and enforce compliance.
  • Shortage of staff exacerbates the issue, leading to tragic loss of lives in fires like the Rajkot game zone and Delhi hospital fires.

The National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) highlights the need for community resilience and compliance with safety norms.

Q1. What is the role of the National Institute of Disaster Management?

NIDM is primarily responsible for the training and capacity development programs for managing natural disasters in India.

Q2. Why Oxygen is not used in Fire Extinguishers?

Fire needs oxygen to live. Adding more oxygen would just cause the fire to grow to a rather large size. The co2 replaces the oxygen thus extinguishing the fire.

Source: What are fire safety rules, and why are there compliance challenges? | Explained