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BCC Ruling No. 16-10-1438

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Ruling No.: 16-10-1438
Application No.: B 2015-45

 

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 3.2.7.9.(4) and 3.2.5.7. of Regulation 332/12, as amended, (the “Building Code”).

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mike Norris, for the resolution of a dispute with Ann Borooah, Chief Building Official, to determine whether the electric fire pump that has not been provided with emergency power, and that is dedicated to the sprinkler system serving a 2 storey, 4 300 m², Group F, Division 2 major occupancy building, provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.2.7.9.(4) when considering Article 3.2.5.7. of Division B of the Building Code at 3350 Victoria Park Ave., Toronto, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Mike Norris
AON Fire Protection Engineering Corporation
Toronto, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Ann Borooah
Chief Building Official
City of Toronto, Ontario

PANEL

Tony Chow, Chair
Mina Tesseris
Alison Orr

PLACE

City of Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

February 18, 2016

DATE OF RULING

February 18, 2016

APPEARANCES

Mike Norris
AON Fire Protection Engineering Corporation
Toronto, Ontario
Applicant

Barbara Kacmarek
Building Engineer
City of Toronto, Ontario
Designate for the Respondent

RULING

 

1. Particulars of Dispute

The Applicant has applied for a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992, to renovate a building at 3350 Victoria Park Ave., Toronto, Ontario.

The subject building is an existing Group F, Division 2 occupancy building, with a building area of 4 330 m². The subject building is two storeys in building height and is comprised of non-combustible construction. The building is equipped with a sprinkler system, standpipe and hose system and fire alarm system.

The construction in dispute relates to the proposal to replace the building's existing sprinkler system with a new sprinkler system. In order to meet the water flow demand of the new sprinkler system, a fire pump is required.

Sentence 3.2.7.9.(4) of Division B of the Building Code requires that an emergency power supply capable of operating under a full load for not less than 30 min be provided by emergency generator for water supply for firefighting in conformance with Article 3.2.5.7., if the supply is dependent on electrical power supplied to the building.

Article 3.2.5.7. in part requires that an adequate water supply for firefighting be provided for every building.

The dispute centers on the Building Code requirements related to emergency power supply for fire pumps and whether an emergency power supply is required for the fire pump serving the new proposed sprinkler system in order to provide an adequate water supply for firefighting.

2. Provisions of the Building Code in Dispute

3.2.7.9.  Emergency Power for Building Services
  1. (4) Except as provided by Sentence (5), an emergency power supply capable of operating under a full load for not less than 30 min shall be provided by emergency generator for water supply for firefighting in conformance with Article 3.2.5.7., if the supply is dependent on electrical power supplied to the building, and the building is not within the scope of Subsection 3.2.6.
3.2.5.7.  Water Supply
  1. (1) An adequate water supply for firefighting shall be provided for every building.
  2. (2) Hydrants shall be located within 90 m horizontally of any portion of a building perimeter that is required to face a street in Subsection 3.2.2.

3. Applicant’s Position

The Applicant submitted that a building permit application was made to the City of Toronto to replace an existing sprinkler system at the waste transfer station located at 3350 Victoria Park Avenue, Toronto.

The Applicant reported that the existing building is equipped with a sprinkler system but that the existing system needs replacement as it has exceeded its life expectancy. The Applicant advised that in comparison to the old sprinkler system, the new system will provide upgraded coverage due to additional sprinkler heads being installed. As a result, the Applicant indicated an electric fire pump is required in order to boost the pressure to the additional sprinkler heads of the new system.

The Applicant submitted that although the building is existing, it was his position that the proposed sprinkler system is a ‘new building system’ under the Building Code that is required to comply with Part 3 of the Code. He confirmed that the proposed sprinkler system has been designed in accordance with NFPA 13, as referenced by the Ontario Building Code Sentence 3.2.5.13.(1).

The Applicant submitted that the Building Official has refused to issue the building permit because the electric fire pump that is dedicated to the sprinkler system has not been provided with emergency power in accordance with the provision set out in Sentence 3.2.7.9.(4).

The Applicant submitted that it is his position that an emergency power supply for the electric fire pump serving the new sprinkler is not required. The Applicant argued that the requirement for emergency power for a fire pump is applicable only when the fire pump is necessary to provide adequate water supply for firefighting purposes to the building. In this case, the Applicant maintained, the fire pump is for a sprinkler system that is internal to the building. He explained that the external water supply for firefighting purposes, as required by Article 3.2.5.7 of the Building Code, would be adequately met by the existing municipal water supply network including municipal and private fire hydrants that do not require an onsite fire pump.

In support of his position, the Applicant submitted a written opinion, obtained from an engineering firm specializing in fire protection. The engineering report concluded that the building in question is provided with a municipal water source capable of delivering the minimum required flow "Q" for firefighting. The report also advised that the municipal water system is not reliant on electrical power to provide adequate firefighting water, and further, that the municipal water system including the public and private fire hydrants, should be considered the acceptable means for providing adequate firefighting water to satisfy Article 3.2.5.7. of the Building Code.

In response to questions, the Applicant advised that the building does not have an existing emergency power supply, and as a result, the electric fire pump will not be provided with emergency power.

In response to questions, the Applicant advised that providing emergency power to the electric fire pump serving a sprinkler system is not a requirement of NFPA13.

In summary, the Applicant maintained that emergency power was not required for the fire pump serving the sprinkler system, as an adequate water supply for firefighting at this building, would be provided by the municipal water supply, thereby satisfying Sentence 3.2.5.7.(1) of the Building Code.

4. Respondent’s Position

The Designate for the Respondent reported that the municipality refused to issue the building permit because the electric fire pump that is dedicated to the sprinkler system has not been provided with emergency power in accordance with Sentence 3.2.7.9.(4) which states, in part,

" an emergency power supply capable of operating under a full load for not less than 30 min shall be provided by emergency generator for water supply for firefighting in conformance with Article 3.2.5.7. The Designate submitted that Sentence 3.2.5.7.(1) requires that an adequate water supply for firefighting be provided for every building.

The Designate argued that Sentence 3.2.5.7.(1) is further explained in the Appendix to the 2012 Building Code, which notes that water supply for interior fire suppression systems are contained in NFPA 13 for sprinklers and NFPA 14 for standpipe systems. The Designate maintained that the wording “adequate water supply for firefighting” should be understood as the required water supply demand for interior fire suppression in addition to the required water supply by the fire department using fire hoses.

The Designate advised that according to the 2012 Building Code Appendix, the subject building should be classified as a Category #2, which applies to sprinklered buildings. The Designate pointed out that the Appendix states that “adequate water supply for firefighting should be immediately available and accessible”. The Designate argued that in the event of a power failure, the immediate activation of the sprinkler system will be compromised, which would increase the risk to the occupants evacuating the building, as well as, compromise the building itself.

The Designate argued that the result of not providing the required emergency power to the fire pump serving the sprinkler system, when coupled with an electrical power failure event, would be a non-operational sprinkler system, until such time as the fire department arrived on site with their own pumping equipment.

The Designate concluded that it was her position that since a sprinkler system contributes to providing an adequate water supply for firefighting, the fire pump serving the sprinkler system should be provided with an emergency power supply.

5. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the electric fire pump that has not been provided with emergency power, and that is dedicated to the sprinkler system serving a 2 storey, 4 300 m², Group F, Division 2 major occupancy building, provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.2.7.9.(4) of Division B of the Building Code when considering Article 3.2.5.7. at 3350 Victoria Park Ave., Toronto, Ontario.

6. Reasons

  1. Sentence 1.1.2.6.(1) of Division A states, “Except as provided in Sentence (2), Part 11 of Division B applies to the design and construction of existing buildings, or parts of existing buildings, that have been in existence for at least five years”. As the existing building has been in existence for more than 5 years, the Commission is of the opinion that Part 11 of the Code is applicable to the proposed construction.

    Article 11.3.1.2. of the Building Code requires that the design and construction of a new building system or the extension of an existing building system, comply with all other Parts of the Code. The parties agreed that the sprinkler system is considered to be a “new building system” that is required to comply with Part 3 of the Building Code. Sentence 3.2.5.13.(1) requires an automatic sprinkler system to be designed, constructed, installed and tested in conformance with NFPA13. The Commission heard evidence and testimony that the new sprinkler system complies with the requirements for automatic sprinkler systems as set out in Article 3.2.5.13.

  2. The Commission heard that the new sprinkler system provides upgraded coverage as additional sprinkler heads have been installed. The Commission heard that in order to boost the pressure to the additional heads, an electric fire pump was installed. The Commission also heard that the building does not have an existing emergency power supply, and as a result, the electric fire pump will not be provided with emergency power. It is the Commission’s opinion that the emergency power system is a separate and distinct system from that of the sprinkler system. Since the building does not have an existing emergency power supply, it is the Commission’s opinion that Part 11 of the Building Code does not trigger the requirement under Article 3.2.7.9. to provide an emergency power supply to the electric fire pump dedicated to the new sprinkler system.

  3. The Commission heard evidence and testimony that providing emergency power to the electric fire pump serving a sprinkler system is not a requirement of NFPA13.

  4. It is the Commission’s opinion that by upgrading the sprinkler system, the performance level of the existing building has been improved.

Dated at the City of Toronto this 18th day in the month of February in the year 2016 for application number B 2015-45.

Tony Chow, Chair

Mina Tesseris

Alison Orr