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The importance of incorporating global standards in fire safety

The importance of incorporating global standards in fire safety

by Shreegopal Kabra, Managing Director, RR Kabel

Fire occurrence in India has exponentially increased in recent years, killing a large number of people and injuring many. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) says 330 people died in commercial building fires in 2019, while fatalities for residential or dwelling buildings were much higher at 6,329. These fires are mainly caused due to electrical faults, the lack of inspection and the inability to adhere to compliance with safety codes.

Electrical Fire safety is a fundamental consideration in building design and management and the basic necessity for every developer is to have fire suppression systems and fire alarms in place. In India, the National Building Code (NBC) is kept in mind by leading developers during construction as it provides a set of instructions that comprise building requirements, development control rules, administrative regulations that include fire safety systems, structural design, construction and stipulations regarding materials, etc. It serves as a model code for the adoption of all agencies involved in building construction work. According to part 4 of the NBC, “Every building shall be constructed, equipped, maintained and operated as to avoid undue danger to the life and safety of the occupants from fire, smoke, fumes or panic during the time necessary for escape”. The regulation also states a plan for orderly and systematic evacuation shall be prepared while fire drills should be conducted at least once in 6 months. Automatic fire detection and alarm facilities are also a must basis the guideline.

The International Fire Safety Standard (IFSS) coalition is a high-level international set of standards that aims to provide greater clarity and consistency globally in the application of fire safety to buildings at a local and international level. At present, many contrasting standards have contributed to uncertainty and confusion in the testing and approval of construction methods, products and operations of buildings.

Real estate has been at the forefront of adapting and developing solutions for safer, accessible and efficient safety protocols with technological advancements. Technology today plays an important role in innovative safety products with smart and improved homes/commercial spaces. In India, state governments are relooking at their fire safety guidelines & protocols and working towards having comprehensive guidelines in place to avoid these manmade disasters that will prevent major loss of lives due to fire incidents. To minimize the risk of fire incidents, India must prioritize regular fire safety audits and fire safety awareness among citizens.

With the rising urbanisation, the demand for wires and cables is also increasing due to their use in numerous buildings and structures. While electrical fire safety is a concern, a major problem faced is the lack of awareness amongst customers about the importance of good quality wiring within their homes and areas.

A simple method that can be followed by Consumers is to look at the following while buying or selecting wires.

  • Check if the conductor is Class 2
  • Check if the insulation is HFFR or ZHFR
  • The product should be ROHS & REACH compliant ( it would be mentioned on the packaging 

The concern of accidents due to wires and cables will always be there, however, there should be strict laws implemented that can prevent these mishaps and save lives. In addition to these codes and laws which exist in India, there should be a comprehensive framework to conduct risk assessments for the buildings. Risks coexist and can be complex, they are qualitative and quantitative and hence, it is a dire need for global electrical fire safety protocols to be implemented in India to prevent the majority of the fire mishaps.


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