BASIC AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
THE SPRINKLER RULES
Neither ASIB or any other approving authority can be expected to inspect sprinkler systems which
represent deviations in the name of rational design, personal feelings or beliefs and pass, accept or
approve the installation under review.
Approval can only be applied to known and proven codes, rules or standards that are based on proven
tests and criteria which are internationally accepted. ASIB is obliged to follow minimum standards which
are acknowledged by insurance companies and reduces or removes liability from the owner or occupier
automatically protecting their interests.
What is passed by a local authority may, and does in many instances, deviate radically to what is
acceptable as a correct minimum standard. Fire insurance is classed as short term insurance, i.e.
annually renewable. Acceptance by the insurance company is a commercial decision that does not
necessarily denote compliance to the minimum standards.
A rationally designed sprinkler system acceptable to one insurance company for the current year may not
be acceptable to the following year's insurer. Even if the company does not change, policy sometimes
does. An ASIB Clearance Certificate is the only certification within South Africa that virtually
guarantees continuity of acceptance.
Our experience shows that an unapproved sprinkler system that represents a rationalised approach has
resulted on occasions of having to retrofit sprinkler protection. By omitting protection for what is
perceived to be a saving from the original project can cost as much as 500% or more under retrofit
circumstances than what it would have cost at the design stage.
The insurance industry is hardening world-wide and this has filtered into South Africa. There are
definite requests for compliance with standards. It is in your interests to ensure that this is the case
the first time.
There are many codes of practice, standards and rules throughout the world. Each one is reasonably
unique to the country of origin but the basic parameters are virtually identical. A sprinkler head, for
example, must carry international approvals and therefore has defined limitations which cannot be
The standard with the most in common are used by South Africa, (Tenth or the Eleventh Edition Rules for
Automatic Sprinkler Installations which will be SANS 10287:2010), United Kingdom, (BS5306 Part II,
developed into a European standard BS EN 12845 and applicable to Europe), Far East and Australia, (ASA
2118). These are virtually identical and represent over one-hundred-and forty years of research,
intensive fire tests and investigation of actual fires.
They are based on sound fire engineering principles and cannot be whimsically changed or altered and
definitely cannot be rationalised.
The ASIB Tenth and Eleventh Edition Rules have proven themselves over and over again to be perfectly
acceptable in terms of design and the resultant control of fires. Since 1970, averaging four-thousand
inspections per annum, the ASIB has no recorded loss under normal fire conditions of a structure with a
Clearance Certificate in place. However we have many recorded losses for rationally designed structures
in the twenty years this has been allowed.
The Rules used in South Africa are constantly updated but never made retrospective and have an enviable
success record. They are accepted by local and many reinsurance companies world-wide as well as local
authorities. There is experience of buildings with sprinkler installations that are accepted and trading
licenses have been granted by local authorities but the system is in noncompliance to differing degrees
with minimum sprinkler practices. Local authority does not accept responsibility for the failure of a
There is no person in South Africa, in the opinion of those knowledgeable in the application of
sprinkler codes with the knowledge that allows for the omission of protection if this is required by the
standard or to revise protection to their individual thoughts usually in the name of cost-saving or
LISTED SPRINKLER INSTALLERS AND APPROVED SUPPLIERS
ASIB maintains a list of sprinkler installers and approved suppliers which can be viewed on this site.
These companies are adjudged to be capable of working to a nominated standard of sprinkler installations
within their individual capabilities. The listings are updated on an annual basis.
Approved and listed by the Automatic Sprinkler Inspection Bureau (Pty) Limited for peace of mind,
insurance and Clearance Certificate purposes utilising accepted standards.
This assists in protecting the clients' interests in that a listed company will comply with the latest
known and proven methods in respect of design, fabrication and erection. An inspection of the completed
work is carried out by ASIB. This is mandatory in terms of the installers listing. Regardless of any
instruction given by a person acting in an advisory capacity it is the prerogative and right of the
sprinkler installer to cover themselves by requesting the inspection for their records. This exonerates
the installer from any failure if they carried out any instruction contrary to what is regarded as a
The use of a company not listed by the ASIB generally indicates that they are not well versed, if at
all, in the intricacies of sprinkler systems. We have experience of many systems installed by companies
or people not listed or approved which are completely incorrect and will fail under a fire condition. We
reiterate that what may be acceptable to the local authority or some insurance companies does not
necessarily mean that the installation complies with the correct standards.
ASIB can ensure the registered and listed installers will carry out the necessary rectification work if
they are at fault for poor design, fabrication or erection but cannot for an unlisted company. It is in
the client's interests to use those listed.
Approved Equipment is specific to the sprinkler industry which has a unique requirement. As sprinkler
installations are classed as life-safety property protection systems, the reliability must be proven for
the particular function it has to perform in accordance with internationally accepted criteria. It is
not possible to exceed the stated limitations of the approval or the manufacturer's recommendations
without severely compromising the entire objective of installing the system.
Only equipment and components approved by The Loss Prevention Council, (LPC), or Factory Mutual, (FM),
are acceptable for a sprinkler system. All installers use approved equipment unless there is no
alternative equipment available for a particular problem at which stage alternative approval authorities
can be nominated and verified if acceptable.
Fire pumps are critical to the reliable operation of a sprinkler system and exceptional care must be
taken in selecting these. Each pump installed is individually engineered and endurance tested on the
manufacturers test bed. The pump is run at the duty ratings prior to the test and, if successful, is
issued with an approval number. This number does not at that stage suggest compatibility with the
sprinkler system it is going to supply. It does indicate compliance with the rules and the fact that it
did complete the test run in accordance with the supplier's submitted data.
Controlling panels for fire pumps are tested individually by an outside independent company, Protection
Projects and issued with a unique approval number. New panels developed are checked at design stage and
approved accordingly for compliance with the rules and service within the sprinkler industry.