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BCC Ruling No. 12-08-1312

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Ruling No.: 12-08-1312
Application No.: B-2012-04

 

BUILDING CODE COMMISSION

IN THE MATTER OF Subsection 24(1) of the Building Code Act, S.O. 1992, c. 23, as amended.

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentences 3.2.5.5.(4), 3.2.9.1.(7), 3.2.9.4.(1) and Clause 3.2.9.1.(1)(a) of Regulation 350/06, as amended, (the “Building Code”).

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Dominic Mescia, Domus Developments (London) Inc. for resolution of a dispute with Peter Kokkoros, Deputy Chief Building Official, City of London, to determine whether the proposal to ensure that fire hydrants will be located within 45 m of all suite entrances in lieu of providing fire hose cabinets provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentences 3.2.9.1.(7), 3.2.9.4.(1) and Clause 3.2.9.1.(1)(a) of the Building Code at 112 North Centre Road, City of London, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Dominic Mescia
Domus Developments (London) Inc.
City of London, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Peter Kokkoros
Deputy Chief Building Official
City of London, Ontario

PANEL

Tony Chow, Chair
Alison Orr
Neal Barkhurst

PLACE

City of Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

March 8, 2012

DATE OF RULING

March 8, 2012

APPEARANCES

Jim McCabe
Jim McCabe Building Code Consulting
City of Kitchener, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Jay Zendrowski
Plans Examiner/Building Inspector
City of London, Ontario
Designate for the Respondent

RULING

 

1. Particulars of Dispute

The Applicant has applied for a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct a four-storey residential building at 112 North Centre Road, City of London, Ontario.

The subject building is four storeys in building height, having a building area of approximately 450 m2, comprised of combustible construction, which will be equipped with a sprinkler system and a fire alarm system.

The structure is described as being comprised of “stacked” dwelling units, having one dwelling unit above another dwelling unit. The lower units occupy portions of the basement and first storeys, while the upper units occupy portions of the second, third, and fourth storeys.

The issue in dispute relates to the requirement for providing a standpipe system to any building that is more than three storeys in building height, and the requirement to provide hose stations to each storey in the building. In particular, the dispute relates to the applicability of these requirements to the upper units occupying portions of the second, third and fourth storeys of the subject building.

2. Provisions of the Building Code in Dispute

3.2.9.  Standpipe Systems
3.2.9.1.  Where Required
(1)  Except as provided in Sentences (4) to (7), a standpipe system shall be installed in every building that,
(a) is more than 3 storeys in building height,
(b) is more than 14 m high measured between grade and the ceiling of the top storey, or
(c) is not more than 14 m high measured between grade and the ceiling of the top storey but has a building area exceeding the area shown in Table 3.2.9.1. for the applicable building height if the building is not sprinklered.
(7)  A standpipe system is not required to be installed in a dwelling unit that,
(a) extends not more than 3 storeys above adjacent ground level,
(b) is completely cut off from the remainder of the building so that there is no access to the remainder of the building, and
(c) has direct access to its interior by means of an exterior doorway located not more than 1 500 mm above or below adjacent finished ground level.

3.2.9.4.  Hose Stations
(1)  If a standpipe system is required in a building, hose stations shall be provided in each storey in the building. 

3. Applicant’s Position

The Agent for the Applicant described the project and gave an overview of the issue that has arisen and resulted in the application to the Building Code Commission. He stated that the standpipe requirements outlined in the Building Code are designed for typical apartment buildings with a common corridor serving multiple suites where the requirement would likely translate into providing two or three fire hose cabinets to each storey. He explained that for a typical apartment building each fire hose cabinet would serve 15 or more suites within that storey whereas applying the same requirement to the subject building would require providing three fire hose cabinets to each suite. He suggested that, in his opinion, the standpipe requirement was not developed with stacked townhouses in mind.

The Agent referred to two sketches that he had submitted as part of the application to the Building Code Commission. The first sketch showed a cross section of a four storey building, he stated that this sketch depicted a scenario where an unsprinklered, four storey residential building which includes interconnected floor space would not be required to be provided with internal fire hose cabinets. He stressed that such a building, which would not have limits imposed on the size of suites, would fully comply with the requirements of Sentence 3.2.9.1.(7).

The Agent then referred to the second sketch, which depicted the subject building. He stated that the building in question is fully sprinklered, the largest suite is approximately 140 m2, the distance from a suite to fire route is 12.4 m, and the maximum distance to a fire hydrant is 45 m. The Agent argued that, in his opinion, the proposal before the Commission, as depicted in the second sketch, provides a better level of performance than the example, depicted in the first sketch, which would comply with the Building Code. He added that it was his belief that the proposal before the Commission provides better fire fighting capabilities to the fire department.

The Agent stated that through communications with the Cambridge Fire Department, he believes that the fire department would prefer to rely on their own equipment and added that he believes the fire department is supportive of the proposal to eliminate the fire hose cabinets for the subject building.

In response to questions regarding what alternative solution is being offered, the Agent indicated that he did not believe an alternative proposal was required rather he felt that the Building Code does not adequately address the construction being proposed. The Agent stated that by ensuring that fire hydrants would be located within 45 m of all suite entrances that this would provide superior fire fighting capabilities than that which would be considered acceptable by the Building Code. He suggested that this provides sufficiency of compliance with the intent of the Building Code.

In summary, the Agent stated that he believed the municipality was acting in good faith in applying the Building Code. He reiterated that the existing requirements of the Building Code do not address the situation at hand. He concluded that he believes sufficiency of compliance is achieved as it relates to real life fire fighting capabilities.
 

4. Respondent’s Position

 The Designate for the Respondent stated that it is the responsibility of the municipality to determine compliance with the requirements of the Building Code. He advised that the municipality appreciates that the requirement for a standpipe and hose system for this particular building presents some problems; however, he added the Building Code is quite clear and a standpipe and hose system is required for the subject building.

The Designate acknowledged that the requirement for a standpipe and hose system does not contemplate the type of building that is the subject of this dispute.

In response to questions regarding the proposal to provide an additional fire hydrant, a representative from the Fire Department stated that the location of the fire hydrant would not be helpful as the fire department would not use the road on which the fire hydrant would be located to fight a fire in this building. The representative also noted that fire hose cabinets would need to remain available and unobstructed, he noted that this may pose problems in a building such as this as the fire hose cabinets would be contained within residential suites.

In summary, the Designate stated that the municipality agrees with the applicant that the Building Code does not address a building such as is proposed here. However, he stated that the requirement is explicit and therefore a standpipe and hose system is required for the subject building.

 
5. Commission Ruling

It is the Decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposal to ensure that fire hydrants will be located within 45 m of all suite entrances in lieu of providing hose cabinets does not provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentences 3.2.9.1.(7), 3.2.9.4.(1) and Clause 3.2.9.1.(1)(a) of the Building Code at 112 North Centre Road, City of London, Ontario.

6. Reasons

  1. Article 3.2.9.1. of the Building Code specifies where standpipe systems are required to be installed. Sentence 3.2.9.1.(1) states that a standpipe system shall be installed in every building that is more than 3 storeys in building height.
  2. The Building Code is explicit in its requirement for the provision of a standpipe system. The subject building is more than 3 storeys in building height and therefore, a standpipe system, including hose cabinets, is required to be installed.
  3. In the opinion of the Commission, the proposal to provide an additional fire hydrant is not an appropriate compensating measure as it does not provide a similar level of fire fighting capability to the inside of the building.
     

Dated at the City of Toronto this 8th day in the month of March in the year 2012 for application number B-2012-04.

Tony Chow, Chair

Alison Orr

Neal Barkhurst