The National Building Code (NBC), is the basic model code in India on matters relating to building
construction and fire safety. Fire prevention and fire protection is a state subject. The primary
responsibility for fire prevention and fire protection lies primarily with State Governments. The rules for
fire prevention and fire protection are laid in the form of State Regulations or Municipal By-Laws.
National Building Code:
The National Building Code is published by Bureau of Indian Standards. The first edition of the NBC was
published in 1970. This edition was revised in 1983, 1987 and 1997. The second edition of the NBC was
published in 2005. The third edition of the NBC was published in 2016, incorporating the latest
developments in the construction activities in the country.
The main objective of NBC is to specify measures that will provide that degree of safety from fire, which
is practical and can be reasonably achieved. The Code insists upon compliance with minimum standards
of fire safety necessary for building occupants and users. For ensuring compliance of fire protection
equipment/installations to the laid down quality requirements, it is desirable to use such
equipment/installation duly certified under the BIS Certification Marks Scheme.
The NBC classify the buildings into the following 9 groups:
These groups have been subdivided into various categories. The NBC also deals with three types of fire
zones and four types of constructions.
The Part 4 (Fire and Life Safety) of NBC, which contain the fire safety norms through detailed provisions
on fire prevention, life safety and fire protection. The fire protection, which not only deals with fire
prevention and fire protection but also gives guidance by specifying the standards for construction,
plumbing, electrical installations including wiring, lighting, ventilation, heating and air conditioning,
safety sanitation, active and passive fire protection systems, etc. It mentions the restrictions of buildings
in each fire zone, classification of buildings based on occupancy, the demarcation of fire zones,
limitations of height, types of building construction according to fire resistance of the structural and
non-structural components and other restrictions and requirements necessary to minimise danger to
life from fire, smoke, fumes or panic before the building can be evacuated.
The Code recognizes that safety of life is more than a matter of means of egress and accordingly deals
with various matters which are considered essential to the safety of life. The Code therefore covers
provisions relating to means of egress covering various components thereof namely exit access, exit and
exit discharge. It also covers provisions relating to fire protection of various occupancies through
portable and fixed firefighting installations.
Installation of emergency lights, photoluminescent signages to guide people in dark conditions to see
and move to the nearest exit, fire extinguishers, first aid kits and multiple exit points cleared of clutter
to facilitate quick exit when seconds separate life and death. These are not luxuries but essentials.