Fire Norms Documented in National Building Code (NBC)

Kishan Thakkar K

For residential projects, fire and safety requirements are important, and NBC has covered guidelines related to it in this article we will look at fire standards in the National Building Code.

NBC (National Building Code) contains detailed guidelines for the construction, maintenance, and fire safety of constructions. Bureau of Indian Standards publishes the National Building Code of India, which is a recommendatory document 

A set of guidelines was issued to the states to incorporate the recommendations of the National Building Code of India into their local building bylaws. 

The National Building Code of India 2016 Part – IV “Fire & Life Safety” has also been issued to all state governments on 18th April, 2017.

Before getting into the details, let first have a brief overview of what NBC is.

The National Building Code defines the building norms in the country essential for the safe and orderly development of buildings. In the event of a developer failing to follow these guidelines, they may be penalized, their building permit could be revoked, or their property could be demolished. In addition, the NBC contains a number of guidelines and provisions for regulating and preventing fires in Indian buildings.

There are nine categories of buildings in India, and fire safety measures are stipulated based on the structure’s nature and occupancy. The classification of residential buildings is A, while that of businesses, industrial buildings, and storage buildings is G, E, and H.

Let’s take a look at various fire safety regulations laid down for residential buildings in Part IV of NBC

Approval process

High-rise structures exceeding three storeys or rising 15 meters above the ground must obtain a certificate of approval from the Director of Fire Force or his representative before construction can begin.

Building plans submitted to the building authority should show all fire protection arrangements and means of escape and access for the proposed building. An architect or fire consultant should sign and certify the document.

Along with other plans and sections of the buildings, the detailed plan showing the arrangement of booster pumps, pipelines, and water tanks should also be submitted to the concerned authority for approval.

Chief Fire Officers should review safety plans and escape methods and forward them to sanctioning authorities for approval.

No Objection Certificates (NOCs) are issued by fire officers once a plan has been reviewed and approved for construction by the sanctioning body. 

Staircase rules

There should be two staircase exits on each floor of the building during a fire to ensure a faster evacuation. Especially in buildings with a floor area greater than 150 square meters and a capacity of more than 20 people, this is crucial. It is also recommended that the staircases have a minimum width of two meters since narrow staircases have a higher risk of stampedes during evacuations.

Fire-fighting measures

Buildings should be designed to store massive amounts of static water underground at a rate of 1,000 liters per minute. Additionally, automatic sprinklers should be installed in basements used for parking or storage that exceed 200 meters in length.

Whenever there is a power outage, all buildings with a height over 25 meters should have diesel generators to control fires.

Lift norms

For emergency purposes, high-rise buildings should be equipped with separate lifts exclusively for firefighters, in addition to the regular lifts that residents use. Compared to regular elevators, fire lifts should have a higher speed.


NBC also requires frequent fire drills to inform residents of emergency evacuation procedures, which are in addition to the norms mentioned above.

The importance of building awareness about fire prevention and protection measures among residents cannot be overstated. Fire-fighting equipment remains malfunctioning owing to poor maintenance in many residential buildings due to lack of knowledge among the residents or poor maintenance among the equipment.

In Summary

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