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22nd Aug 2022

Architect Africa Online

Africa's Leading Architecture Aggregator

Revised SANS 10139 fire safety standards

Revised SANS 10139 brings local fire-safety standards in line with the US and Europe, says ASP Fire CEO Michael van Niekerk.


ASP Fire CEO Michael van Niekerk.

The revised version of South African National Standards (SANS) 10139 published recently by the standards division of the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has brought South Africa in line with fire safety standards similar to those in the UK and Europe, highlights ASP Fire CEO Michael van Niekerk.

SANS 10139 provides recommendations for the planning, design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in and around buildings other than dwellings. It is based on the British Standards BS5839-1, Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings.

Its revision comes in the wake of two recent devastating fires, one at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg and the other at Table Mountain. The latter eventually swept onto the upper campus of the University of Cape Town, causing extensive damage to the African Studies Library reading room.

“The seriousness of fire is often overlooked and its impact is often underestimated. It is crucial that a national set of guidelines and rules for the designers and installers of fire protection systems is provided for them to follow and uphold. The costs of fire within this country runs into the billions of rands and needs to be prevented,” the SABS said in a statement.

The revised standard includes updated recommendations about the need for a fire detection system, variations from the standard, system components, detection zones, communication with the fire services, staged fire alarms and manual call points. In addition, it contains updated requirements for smoke detectors and for the spacing and placing of automatic fire detectors. There are also updated measures to limit false alarms and a commentary on inspection and servicing has been added.

As part of its value-added service offering to its clients, ASP Fire works closely with insurance brokers and underwriters to address a client’s fire risk based on the outcomes of a fire-safety risk assessment report. This assists in preventing damage to property and products, loss of life, financial loss, consequential loss of profit, loss of productivity and insurance repercussions.

A rational design is the performance-based design of fire safety and prevention mechanisms and strategies in a building in order to provide the same or better fire safety levels as prescribed in the National Building Regulations. Here a fire-risk consultant such as ASP Fire visits the premises in question, or reviews a set of new building plans, in order to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of all areas of the property in terms of fire safety and risk.

Critical revisions contained in SANS 10139

  • Updated requirements for smoke detectors.
  • Updated requirements for spacing and placing of automatic fire detectors.
  • A commentary has been added with regards to a control and references the appropriate equipment.
  • Updated measures to limit false alarm.
  • A commentary on inspection and servicing has been added.

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