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BCC Ruling No. 15-28-1417

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Ruling No.: 15-28-1417
Application No.: B 2015-28

 

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 11.4.2.3.(6) and 11.4.3.4.(6) and Article 3.2.2.42. of Division B of Regulation 332/12, as amended, (the “Building Code”).

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Abdul Choudhury for the resolution of a dispute with Ed VanderWindt, Chief Building Official, to determine whether the renovation, which will not include the installation of a sprinkler system, provides sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of Sentences 11.4.2.3.(6) and 11.4.3.4.(6) and Article 3.2.2.42. of Division B of the Building Code, when considering the inherent design and construction of the existing building at King Residences, 570 King Street West, City of Hamilton, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Abdul Choudhury
Building Owner
Dundas, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Ed VanderWindt
Chief Building Official
City of Hamilton, Ontario

PANEL

Alison Orr, Chair-Designate
Tony Chow
Marina Huissoon

PLACE

City of Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

October 8, 2015

DATE OF RULING

October 8, 2015

APPEARANCES

Abdul Choudhury
Building Owner
Dundas, Ontario
Applicant

Victor Pala
Architect
City of Hamilton, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Radek Wodzinowski
Building Engineer
City of Hamilton, Ontario
Designate for the Respondent

RULING

 

1. Particulars of Dispute

The Applicant has applied for a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992, to renovate an existing building at King Residences, 570 King Street West, City of Hamilton, Ontario.

The subject building is more than 5 years old. It is a 4 storey, 596 m2, non-combustible building, which is equipped with a two stage fire alarm system and standpipe and hose system. Under previous ownership, the building was a Group B Division 2 major occupancy, a regulated nursing home providing 60 beds for elderly or infirm residents. The Applicant, who is the new owner, is proposing to construct 36 student units and 3 retirement units in the existing building. As a result, the major occupancy of the building is changing from a Group B2 major occupancy to a Group C major occupancy building.

The dispute before the Commission relates to whether the existing building, which is more than 3 storeys high and is undergoing a change of major occupancy to a Group C major occupancy, is required to be sprinklered.

The Code requirements in dispute are Sentences 11.4.2.3.(6) and 11.4.3.4.(6) and Article 3.2.2.42. of Division B of the 2012 Building Code, which relate to change of major occupancy and sprinklering.

2. Provisions of the Building Code in Dispute

11.4.2.3. Change of Major Occupancy
  1. (6) Despite Clause (1)(a), the performance level of an existing building is reduced where proposed construction will result in the change of the major occupancy of all or part of an existing building to a Group C major occupancy in a building over 3 storeys in building height, except in a building conforming to Subclause 3.2.2.44.(1)(a)(ii) and having an egress facility conforming to Sentence 3.3.4.4.(8).
11.4.3.4. Change in Major Occupancy
  1. (6) Where the performance level is reduced under Sentence 11.4.2.3.(6), the storey subject to the change shall be sprinklered.
3.2.2.42. Group C, Any Height, Any Area, Sprinklered
  1. (1) Except as permitted by Articles 3.2.2.43. to 3.2.2.48., a building classified as Group C shall conform to Sentence (2).

  2. (2) Except as permitted by Article 3.2.2.16., the building referred to in Sentence (1) shall be of noncombustible construction, and,
    1. (a) except as permitted by Sentence 3.2.2.7.(1), the building shall be sprinklered,
    2. (b) except as permitted by Sentence (3), floor assemblies shall be fire-resistance rating with a fire-resistance rating not less than 2 h,
    3. (c) mezzanines shall have a fire-resistance rating not less than 1 h, and
    4. (d) loadbearing walls, columns and arches shall have a fire-resistance rating not less than that required for the supported assembly.

3. Applicant’s Position

The Agent for the Applicant submitted that the subject building was built in 1974 and under previous ownership, was a regulated nursing home, providing 60 beds for elderly and/or infirm residents with care staff. The Agent explained that his client is proposing to construct 36 student residences and 3 retirement units i.e. 39 single bed/sitting rooms in the existing building.

The Agent submitted that the building is a 4 storey, 596 m2, non-combustible building, constructed of concrete masonry with precast concrete floor construction and concrete block exterior and interior walls. He explained that the building contains a mechanical penthouse and a fully sprinklered basement, which once provided full kitchen and dining services, laundry, facilities and a hair salon. The Agent submitted that under the current proposal the basement is to be utilized as a recreation and activity room for the residents. The Agent added that the existing building complies with all fire alarm requirements of the Code.

In response to questions, the Agent clarified that the 3 retirement units being proposed are not considered “retirement homes” regulated under the Retirement Homes Act, 2010.

In describing the building, the Agent maintained that the entire facility is equipped with a two stage fire alarm system that has been reviewed by the fire service annually and that all emergency and exit lighting have been maintained and are up to date. The Agent explained that various doors in the building are equipped with mag-locks, which are connected to the fire alarm system, and further, can be over-ridden by keypad operation to provide controlled access to exit. The Agent submitted that the building is equipped with a standpipe and hose system and contains corridors that are extra wide, greater than 2.2 m in the 4 storey student portion of the building and 1.5 m in the retirement 1 storey portion of the building.

The Agent explained that in a previous edition of the Code, Article 3.2.2.42. of the 2006 Building Code (before amendments), would permit a non-combustible Group C occupancy building of any height and any area to be constructed without sprinklering. In addition, the Agent explained that Article 3.2.2.43. of the 2006 Building Code permitted a non-combustible Group C occupancy building up to 6 storeys and building area up to 3000 m2 to be constructed without sprinklering. As a result, the Agent argued that under the 2006 Building Code, the subject 600 m2 building could have been built five times greater and up to two storeys higher without having to sprinkler the building.

The Agent acknowledged that if the subject building were constructed today, under the 2012 Building Code, it would be required to be constructed with sprinklering. However, he argued that under the 2012 Building Code, a non-combustible Group C occupancy building could be fifteen times the building area and up to two storeys higher.

The Agent submitted that, considering the building area of the existing 4 storey building is only 596 m2, which is considerably less than the building area the 2006 and 2012 Ontario Building Codes would permit, the requirements for sprinklering should be waived in this case.

The Agent submitted that the building would retain the sprinklers located in the basement as well as the two stage fire alarm system, all emergency lighting, standpipe and all other existing safety systems, while upgrading where appropriate. However, the Agent argued that the relatively small size of the subject building, in addition to the reduced occupant load from 60 nursing beds to 39 student residences, should be taken into consideration when determining sufficiency of compliance with the Code. The Agent submitted for consideration that the 2012 Building Code requirements are an unfair imbalance and hardship for smaller existing building projects.

4. Respondent’s Position

The Designate for the Respondent submitted that as the building is an existing building more than 5 years old, Part 11 of the Building Code is applicable.

The Designate explained that the current building is undergoing a change of use from a Group B Division 2 occupancy building to a Group C occupancy building. He added that as per Sentence 11.4.3.4.(6) of the 2012 Building Code, the performance level of the building is considered reduced and therefore, sprinklering of the entire building is required in accordance with the Code.

The Designate acknowledged that the building is relatively small in building area and height but argued that the Building Code requirements are clear and that the subject building is required to be sprinklered. Further, the Designate pointed out that the existing fire alarm and standpipe system described by the Agent are required by the Code for the subject building and cannot be considered as compensating measures.

In summary, the Designate acknowledged that the proposed change of use of the building from a Group B Division 2 occupancy to a Group C occupancy reduces the hazard level of the subject building. However, the Designate pointed out that there are no compliance alternatives for sprinklering in the Building Code. As a result, the Designate maintained that the Code is clear; sprinklering is required in the subject building and no compensating measures can substitute the requirement to sprinkler the building.

5. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the renovation, which does not propose the installation of a sprinkler system, does not provide sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of Sentences 11.4.2.3.(6) and 11.4.3.4.(6) and Article 3.2.2.42. of Division B of the Building Code when considering the inherent design and construction of the existing building at King Residences, 570 King street West, City of Hamilton, Ontario.

6. Reasons

  1. The Commission heard that the existing 4 storey building, which is more than 5 years old, is undergoing a change of use from a B2 major occupancy to a Group C major occupancy. As a result, Sentences 11.4.2.3.(6) and 11.4.3.4.(6) of Division B of the 2012 Building Code are applicable.

    Sentence 11.4.2.3.(6) of the Building Code states, “…the performance level of an existing building is reduced where proposed construction will result in the change of the major occupancy of all or part of an existing building to a Group C major occupancy in a building over 3 storeys in building height..”

    Further, Sentence 11.4.3.4.(6) of the Code states, “Where the performance level is reduced under Sentence 11.4.2.3.(6), the storey subject to the change shall be sprinklered”.

    It is the Commission’s opinion that even though the proposed construction will result in a change of major occupancy to a Group C occupancy, which is a lesser hazard index, the performance level of the building is still considered reduced. As a result, in accordance with Sentence 11.4.3.4.(6), the subject four storey building is required to be sprinklered.

    The Commission also notes that there are no compliance alternatives for sprinkler systems in Part 11 of the Building Code.

Dated at the City of Toronto this 8th day in the month of October in the year 2015 for application number B 2015-28.

Alison Orr, Chair-Designate

Tony Chow

Marina Huissoon