In a fire resistant construction, the maximum use of non combustible materials should be encouraged. All the structural elements such as beams, columns, lintels, arches, floors, roofs, load bearing walls or partition walls etc. Should be constructed in such a way that they should continue to function as structural members at least for the period which may be sufficient for the occupants to escape.
The following additional points should be kept in view while designing a fire resistant structure:
1. The load bearing walls or columns of masonry should be thicker in section so that they may successfully act as fire barrier for a considerable time.
2. As for as possible fire resisting material should be used in the construction of flooring. If the usage of material which is likely to be damaged cannot be avoided either due to financial or other considerations.
3. In case of wooden floors, thicker joists spaced at greater distance apart should be used.
4. Fire stops should be provided in wooden floors at suitable intervals.
5. Flooring made from materials like concrete, brick, ceramic tiles etc., is considered to be most suitable for fire resistant construction. In case, cast iron, wrought iron or combustible materials like rubber, cork, carpet etc., have to be used in flooring, such materials should be protected by covering of insulating material like ceramic tiles, terracotta, bricks etc.
6. Reinforced concrete framed structures should be preferred to steel structures. As steel is liable to twist, sag or distort under heavy fire, the metal should be protected by using concrete, hollow clay tiles, bricks, metal lath, and plaster. The cover of the protected material like tiles or bricks all round the steel members should be at least 10 cm. from all sides. In any case, the metal flanges should be protected with not less than 5 cm. layer of concrete. The cover of concrete for reinforced concrete members like beams, or columns should be sufficient to enable the members function satisfactorily, under fire for a maximum time. The concrete cover outside the main reinforcement should be at-least 5 cm. for very important structural members, like columns, grinders, trusses etc., 38 mm for ordinary beam, or long span slabs, arches etc. and 25 mm. for partition walls and short span slabs.
7. The partition walls should similarly be of fire-resistant material. In general, R.C.C., R.B.C, metal lath, plaster, asbestos, cement board, hollow concrete or clay tiles should be used in the construction of partition walls. In case, wooden partition has to be made fire resistant, it should be covered with metal lath and plaster.
8. The load bearing walls, as well as non load bearing walls, should be plastered with fire resistive mortar.
9. The ceiling should be directly attached or suspended from the floor joists and it should be made fire resistant by fixing asbestos cement boards, fiber boards, metal lath and plaster.
10. The doors, windows or exposed sides should be glazed and fitted with reinforced glass panels.
11. As far as possible, use metal frames for doors with steel shutters.
11. As far as possible, flat roof should be encouraged. In case, the sloping roof is considered necessary, either due to site conditions or due to architectural reasons, the ceilings of the sloped roof should be made up of fire-resistive material.