It is essential that portable fire equipment in a building is ready and able to be used by you, your staff or the fire brigade in an emergency. Therefore, all commercial, industrial, health care and accommodation facilities have a requirement to install and maintain fire safety equipment.
How often must fire equipment be serviced?
At least once a year.
Can I remove or relocate fire equipment or an emergency exit?
Removing or relocating fire equipment or an emergency exit can only be undertaken on condition that the necessary approval has been obtained.
Which companies are permitted to service extinguishers?
Only SABS 1475 approved companies (contact the SABS office 021 681 6700 and request a list of approved companies).
BUILDING & REGULATIONS
Fire safety and emergency planning are an important aspect for any building development and all operating businesses. City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services provides advice and support to residents, business, industry and local government on:
- Building inspections
- Fire equipment maintenance
- Using and storing dangerous goods
Can emergency escapes be locked for security reasons?
Emergency escapes can be locked only if the locking device being approved by the fire department. A common locking device is the ‘push bar panic bolt’ mechanism. Locking devices require approval from the Fire Department.
Who is responsible for the fire safety of a building/premises?
In terms of the National Building Regulations, the owner of the building; in terms of the local by-law, the owner or responsible person; in general, everyone is responsible.
When does a building warrant an alternate emergency escape?
When the population in any room or the upper storey of a twostorey building exceeds 25 persons; when the travel distance to the nearest escape exceeds 45 m or when a building is three storeys or more in height.
Is open burning allowed?
Open burning is allowed only when a fire is intended for preparing food or other domestic purposes or if a burning permit has been applied for and issued.
Any burning off of rubbish/fields/vegetation and similar combustible products, if not for the preparation of foodstuff, is strictly controlled within the municipal boundary of the CoCT. The Fire and Rescue Services in collaboration with the Air Quality Management section of Health Services combine an application process so as to permit such events. (Members of a registered Fire Protection Association need to approach/contact their Fire Prevention officer for guidance in this regard.)
Within the period 01 May – 30 September of every year applications for an Open Burn can be made to the offices of Air Quality Management who in turn will forward the same to the Fire Services for scrutiny/comment. The application needs to contain all relevant detail of the event, and if found favourable, the application will be itemised for Subcouncil approval and a written permit may be issued by Air Quality Management officials.
Permit holders need to contact the Fire & Rescue Services prior to starting any open burn to ensure that the weather fire index shows/indicates favourable conditions to proceed. The Fire and Rescue Services retains the right to prevent a permitted event if unfavourable conditions prevail, and where an open burn proceeds without approval the land owner/responsible person could be held liable for Fire fees incurred resulting from the need to extinguish the fire.
An inspection fee, for the account of the applicant, may be applicable in terms of assessing the area contained within the application detail.
Our staff at our Regional Headquarters will be able to assist with your enquiry.
Can a fire rated door be kept open?
Fire doors can be kept open on condition that they are equipped with an automatic releasing hold-open device approved by the fire safety section.
What information is required on fire plans?
See the attached document for further details.
How do I go about requesting an inspection?
Requests for an inspection must be in writing and addressed to the relevant fire safety office.
See the attached document for further details.
How do I obtain a fire clearance for a business licence?
You will need to fax the relevant forms (obtainable from the health department) with the land use clearance to the fire safety office.
What steps are involved in erecting a tent?
Prior to the erection and usage of a tent as an occupancy contemplated in the NBR (National Building Regulations) A20, an applicant must when applicable:-
PLANS AND PARTICULARS REQUIRED
- Three paper plans on sheets of the A Series of sizes or multiples of A4.
- Plans, drawings and diagrams shall be drawn to a suitable scale selected from the following scales:
• Site Plans: 1:1000, 1:500, 1:200, 1:100
• Layout Plans: 1:100, 1:50
- Plans, drawings and diagrams are to be clear, legible, dated and signed by the property owner.
- Site plans shall clearly indicate:
• The boundaries of the site
• The proposed location of the tent
• The name of the street
• The nearest cross road
- Layout drawings shall consist of as many plans and elevations to show:
• The proposed internal layout of the tent (seating arrangements, stages, displays, etc)
• The distance from:- the boundary,
any combustible store or material
any adjacent tents or buildings
• Positions of all fire extinguishers (1 x 4,5kg DCP per 200m2)
• Positions and width of emergency exits
• Positions of any LP gas cylinders or appliances (Total maximum gas – not to exceed 19kg)
- Where the tent exceeds 110m2 a professional engineer must be appointed in terms of the NBR A23(4) to certify the structural system as being satisfactory application to be submitted via Building Development
- Where the tent is less than 110m2 application is to be submitted directly to fire safety section.
A sample Site and Layout drawing can be found here.
Should anything be unclear or further assistance be required, please feel free to contact this department or your nearest Fire Safety office.
The Dangerous Goods Regulations require industry to seek input from the Fire Service if specified quantities of Dangerous Goods are exceeded. City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services can provide expert advice on matters relating to:
• Placarding (signage and identification of Dangerous Goods)
• Fire protection
• Emergency Management Planning
Our staff inspects premises with Dangerous Goods to ensure that:
• Fire prevention and protection measures are suitable for the goods
• Signs are present in accordance with legislation
• The site has emergency management plans when necessary
• The site has a manifest in a box at the gate when required
Definition of Dangerous Goods
Dangerous goods are substances that may be corrosive, flammable, explosive, spontaneously combustible, toxic, oxidising, radioactive, biological, water reactive or gases under pressure or liquefied.
Fuels such as petrol and LPG provide by far the largest volume of dangerous goods, and many industries and even homes may contain these and other types of dangerous goods. The law (Dangerous Goods Act) provides for exterior signs to be shown warning of significant amounts of dangerous goods on a site. These may take the form of the word HAZCHEM, or might display dangerous goods diamond symbols. The manifest box is another sure sign that dangerous goods are present.
What are Hazardous Substances?
Hazardous substances are substances with the potential to harm health. They can be gases, liquids or solids, and can be either pure substances or mixtures.
Hazardous substances are classified according to their long term health effects, while dangerous goods are classified by their immediate physical and / or chemical effects.
What are Hazardous Materials?
Hazardous materials are other materials that may have hazardous properties, and include dangerous goods, hazardous substances, scheduled poisons, hazardous wastes and environmental pollutants. City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services categorises all these materials together under the title 'Hazardous Materials' or 'HAZMATS'.
What is a Hazardous Materials Incident?
A hazardous materials incident involves the actual or impending spillage or release of a hazardous material, in sufficient quantity to pose a danger to life, property or the environment. A hazardous materials incident may occur during manufacture, use, handling, transport or storage of hazardous materials.
Storage of Dangerous Goods
There are limitations on the quantities of Dangerous Goods which can be stored in any premise before special precautions must be taken.
The quantity stored will determine the method of storage and associated fire protection, prevention and suppression systems required. The Dangerous Goods Regulations require all premises that handle and/or store Dangerous Goods to do so in a safe manner.
Companies or premises who store dangerous goods are required to complete an assessment of their business.
LIQUID PETROLEUM GAS
When is approval or certification required for LP gas?
When the quantity used/stored exceeds 38 kg.
When is approval or certification required for flammable liquids?
When the quantity used/stored exceeds 200 litres.
Can I install gas?
You can install gas if you are a registered LP gas installer.
What are the minimum requirements for the use and storage of LP gas?
See the attached document for details.
What should I do to improve Gas Safety at my premises?
• Wherever possible use fixed gas supply.
• Use portable heaters as intended – only use in well-ventilated outdoor areas on stable ground and keep clear from awnings and combustible material.
• Make gas safety part of your routine – have a gas safety supervisor and train all staff to follow the gas safety rules.
• Maintenance – never use damaged or malfunctioning heaters. Service your heater at least every 2 years and always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
• Correct storage and handling of LP Gas cylinders – keep all cylinders in a secure and well-ventilated external location. Check the appliance, hose and cylinder connections for leaks and minimise the amount of stored gas on- site.
What are the potential hazards when dealing with LP Gas and outdoor heaters?
• Leaking gas igniting and exploding
• Radiant heat from an outdoor heater igniting near combustible materials, leading to serious fires.
• Hot surfaces causing serious burns when touched.
• Poisonous products of combustion accumulating in enclosed spaces and affecting people’s health and in extreme cases causing death.
• Gas cylinder fires, leaks and explosions.
What are the benefits of using fixed gas supply?
• Fixed supply units offer a safe, affordable and permanent outdoor heating solution for hospitality businesses. The heater units are off the ground, eliminating the risk of possible injuries to staff or customers or damage to the heater or ignition with combustible material.
• Restaurants, bars and cafes are a dynamic environment where customers can also contribute to the risk by moving portable items around the outside area and across pedestrian’s footpath access.
• Fixed supply units eliminate the potential hazard of storing and handling LP Gas cylinders on site.
• Portable outdoor heaters have a life span of 2-3 years. Fixed supply units, which must be safely installed by a registered gas installer.
Properties of LPG and precautions to be observed
Gas is stored as liquid under pressure.
Leakage, especially of liquid, will release large volumes of highly flammable gas.
A gas-air mixture that contains approximately 1,5 % to 10 % of LPG is flammable.
LPG is denser than air and will flow along the ground or through drains. It can be ignited at a considerable distance from the source of leakage, therefore low level ventilation of buildings shall be provided.
LPG is non-toxic, but since it can induce headaches and dizziness when inhaled, inhalation of LPG should be avoided whenever possible.
LPG liquid, by its rapid vaporization and consequent lowering of the temperature, can cause severe cold burns when it comes into contact with skin. Appropriate protective clothing, such as gloves, goggles, aprons and gumboots shall be worn when there is any possibility of such contact.
A container that has held LPG and is presumed to be “empty” can still be hazardous.
Locations of containers to be avoided.
Any position in which the containers are likely to cause obstruction, to become damaged or be exposed to conditions likely to affect their safety.
Any position that is subject to extremes of temperature (excluding natural elements).
Any position near corrosive or readily combustible substances.
Any position adjacent to cellars, drains, hollows, etc., where escaping gas might collect.