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BCC Ruling No. 16-04-1432

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Ruling No.: 16-04-1432
Application No.: B 2015-42

 

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 and Sentences 3.2.5.5.(1) and (4) of Division B, and Article 1.1.3.1. of Division A of Regulation 332/12, as amended, (the “Building Code”).

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Joe Giacomodonato, for the resolution of a dispute with Ed VanderWindt, Chief Building Official to determine whether the proposed entrances to a 4 storey, Group C residential building, which has been divided by a firewall, provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.2.5.4. and Sentences 3.2.5.5.(1) and (4) of Division B when considering Article 1.1.3.1. of Division A of the Building Code at 35 Southshore, Stoney Creek, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Joe Giacomodonato
New Horizon Development Group (Waterfront Trails) Inc.
Hamilton, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Ed VanderWindt
Chief Building Official
City of Hamilton, Ontario

PANEL

Alison Orr, Chair-Designate
Tony Chow
Gary Burtch

PLACE

City of Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

January 21, 2016

DATE OF RULING

January 21, 2016

APPEARANCES

Marc Begin
KNY Architects Inc.
Burlington, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Aasma Al-Hashimi
Building Engineering & Zoning Section
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 construct a 4 storey, residential building at 35 Southshore, Stoney Creek, Ontario.

The subject building is a 4 storey, Group C and Group F, Division 3 (underground parking) major occupancy building with a total above grade building area of 9135.7 m². The building is comprised of combustible construction and is equipped with a sprinkler system, standpipe and hose system and fire alarm system. The subject building has been divided into a “west half” and an “east half” by the construction of a firewall.

Article 3.2.5.5. of the Building Code specifies the location of access routes required by Article 3.2.5.4.

Sentence 3.2.5.4.(1) of the Building Code requires a building that is more than 3 storeys in building height or more than 600 m² in building area to be provided with access routes for fire department vehicles, to the building face having a principal entrance.

Sentence 1.1.3.1.(1) of the Building Code states that where a firewall divides a building, each portion of the building that is divided shall be considered a separate building.

The initial dispute before the Commission was whether the proposed principal entrance, located on the west half of the subject building, and an entrance that leads to a suite, located on the ground floor in the east half of the subject building, sufficiently comply with the requirements of Sentence with Article 3.2.5.4. and Sentences 3.2.5.5.(1) and (4) of Division B of the Building Code.

However, during the hearing, the Agent for the Applicant withdrew the proposal for the entrance located in the east half of the building. Therefore, the dispute for the Commission to determine is whether the proposed principal entrance, located on the west half of the subject building, sufficiently complies with the requirements of Sentence with Article 3.2.5.4. and Sentences 3.2.5.5.(1) and (4) of Division B of the Building Code.

2. Provisions of the Building Code in Dispute

1.1.3.1. Building Size Determination of Building Divided by Firewalls
  1. (1) Where a firewall divides a building, each portion of the building that is divided shall be considered as a separate building, except for the purposes of,
    1. (a) a determination of gross area in Section 1.2. of Division C,
    2. (b) a fire alarm and detection system in Sentence 3.2.4.2.(1) of Division B or Article 9.10.18.1. of Division B, and
    3. (c)  a plumbing system interconnected through a firewall.
3.2.5.4. Access Routes
  1. (1) A building that is more than 3 storeys in building height or more than 600 m2 in building area shall be provided with access routes for fire department vehicles,
    1. (a) to the building face having a principal entrance, and
    2. (b) to each building face having access openings for firefighting as required by Articles 3.2.5.1. and 3.2.5.2.
3.2.5.5. Location of Access Routes
  1. (1) Access routes required by Article 3.2.5.4. shall be located so that the principal entrance and every access opening required by Articles 3.2.5.1. and 3.2.5.2. are located not less than 3 m and not more than 15 m from the closest portion of the access route required for fire department use, measured horizontally from the face of the building.

  2. (2) Access routes shall be provided to a building so that,
    1. (a)  for a building provided with a fire department connection, a fire department pumper vehicle can be located adjacent to the hydrants referred to in Article 3.2.5.16.,
    2. (b) for a building not provided with a fire department connection, a fire department pumper vehicle can be located so that the length of the access route from a hydrant to the vehicle plus the unobstructed path of travel for the firefighter from the vehicle to the building is not more than 90 m, and
    3. (c) the unobstructed path of travel for the firefighter from the vehicle to the building is not more than 45 m.

  3. (3) The unobstructed path of travel for the firefighter required by Sentence (2) from the vehicle to the building shall be measured from the vehicle to the fire department connection provided for the building, except that if no fire department connection is provided, the path of travel shall be measured to the principal entrance of the building.

  4. (4) If a portion of a building is completely cut off from the remainder of the building so that there is no access to the remainder of the building, the access routes required by Sentence (2) shall be located so that the unobstructed path of travel from the vehicle to one entrance of each portion of the building is not more than 45 m.

3. Applicant’s Position

The Agent for the Applicant submitted that the subject 4 storey building is divided by a firewall into two, a “west half” and “east half”. The Agent explained that the main entrance to the building, which is to be used as the principal entrance for both the east and west halves of the building, is located in the west half of the building and this is also where the fire alarm panel is located. The Agent further submitted that access through the firewall has been provided on all 4 floors.

The Agent stated that similar projects, where one principal entrance serves a building that has been divided by a firewall, have been deemed to be in compliance with the Building Code by other building departments. The Agent argued that if the fire department was called to the subject building address, it would arrive at the main entrance of the building, located at the west half of the building. The Agent contended that the proposed access route for this building was not unlike access routes deemed acceptable for hotels and motels, which have one principal entrance serving a building that has been separated into compartments by firewalls.

The Agent noted that Sentence 1.1.3.1.(1) of Division A, states, "Where a firewall divides a building, each portion of the building that is divided shall be considered as a separate building, except for the purposes of (a) a determination of gross area in Section 1.2. of Division C, (b) a fire alarm and detection system in Sentence 3.2.4.2.(1) of Division B or Article 9.10.18.1. of Division B". The Agent argued that this Sentence of the Code must not be read in isolation, that when read in context of its heading "Building Size Determination of Building Divided by Firewalls", this Subsection of the Building Code pertains to the determination of building size only. In his opinion, this does not mean that, once a firewall has been constructed, other Code requirements are applicable to each portion of the building separated by a firewall. As an example, the Agent advised that each of the compartments of the building, separated by a firewall, would not require their own water supply, nor would the parking garage be required to have a universal washroom. As such, the Agent concluded that Sentence 1.1.3.1.(1) is solely for the purpose of determining building size.

The Agent argued that for firefighting purposes the subject building is to be considered one building. He stated that the fire alarm panel located at the principal entrance, which is in the west half of the building. He concluded that this proposal provides sufficiency of compliance with the Code and that requiring a second principal entrance for the subject building would be redundant.

The Agent explained that a Code change request for the 2006 edition of the Building Code regarding this issue had been submitted to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs for consideration. The Agent indicated that the request proposed that an Appendix Note be added to Subsection 3.2.5., which would read, "For some buildings, access routes may only be required to the building face having a principal entrance. In buildings separated by a firewall, access is required to each building". The Agent argued that since the proposed Appendix Note was not adopted by either the 2006 or the 2012 Building Code, that the intent of Subsection 3.2.5. is not to require access to each building separated by a firewall, otherwise, the Ministry would have made this clarification in the subsequent editions of the Code.

Initially, the Agent argued that an exterior entrance to a suite on the ground floor in the east half could be considered a “principal entrance” but subsequently withdrew this proposal during the hearing.

The Agent concluded that it was the Applicant's position that the proposal to provide one principal entrance to the subject building, which has been divided by a firewall, meets the requirements of Article 3.2.5.4. and 3.2.5.5. of the Building Code.

4. Respondent’s Position

The Designate for the Respondent submitted that the Applicant chose to divide the building by constructing a firewall. She submitted that Division A, Sentence 1.1.3.1.(1). states, “Where a firewall divides a building, each portion of the building that is divided shall be considered as a separate building”.

The Designate stated that it is the municipality's position that, since there are two separate buildings, each building shall be provided with an access route to the building face and each building shall have a principal entrance as required by Article 3.2.5.4. of the Building Code.

The Designate suggested that although 'principal entrance' is not a defined term in the Building Code, the dictionary of Architecture and Construction (4th edition), defines a 'primary entrance' as "the principal entrance to a building expressly utilized for day-to-day pedestrian ingress and egress”. The Designate maintained, that providing one principal entrance for two separate buildings, does not comply with the access route requirements of Articles 3.2.5.4. and 3.2.5.5., and that an exterior entrance to a single suite in the east half does not constitute a principal entrance.

In conclusion the Designate reiterated that as the subject building is divided by a firewall it is considered to be two separate buildings and consequently, a principal entrance for each of the buildings is required to satisfy the access route requirements of the Building Code.

5. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposed entrance for a 4 storey, Group C residential building that has been divided by a firewall, with a main entrance to the building in the west half, does not provide sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.2.5.4. and Sentences 3.2.5.5.(1) and (4) of Division B when considering Article 1.1.3.1. of Division A of the Building Code at 35 Southshore, Stoney Creek, Ontario.

6. Reasons

  1. Article 1.1.3.1. of Division A, of the Building Code states, "Where a firewall divides a building, each portion of the building that is divided shall be considered as a separate building, except for the purposes of, (a) a determination of gross area in Section 1.2. of Division C,(b) a fire alarm and detection system in Sentence 3.2.4.2.(1) of Division B or Article 9.10.18.1. of Division B, and (c) a plumbing system interconnected through a firewall".

    In this case both parties agree that the subject building has been constructed with a firewall dividing the building into two. It is the Commission's opinion that the subject building, having been divided by constructing a firewall, is considered to be two separate buildings.

  2. Article 3.2.5.4. of Division B, states, "A building that is more than 3 storeys in building height or more than 600 m² in building area shall be provided with access routes for fire department vehicles, to the building face having a principal entrance, and to each building face having access openings for firefighting as required by Articles 3.2.5.1. and 3.2.5.2.

    As the subject building is more than 3 storeys in building height, the requirements of Article 3.2.5.4. are applicable in this case. Further, as the subject building is considered to be two separate buildings because it has been divided by a firewall, it is the Commission's opinion that each building is required to be provided with an access route to a principal entrance.

  3. It is the Commission’s opinion that an exterior entrance to a single suite does not constitute a principal entrance, for the purpose of Article 3.2.5.4. of Division B.

Dated at the City of Toronto this 21st day in the month of January in the year 2016 for application number B 2015-42.

Alison Orr, Chair-Designate

Tony Chow

Gary Burtch