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BCC Ruling No. 01-18-811

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. No. 01-18-811

IN THE MATTER OF Subsection 24 (1) of the Building Code Act, 1992.

AND IN THE MATTER OF Clauses 3.2.4.3.(1)(b), (c) and (e) of Regulation 403, as amended by O. Reg. 22/98, 102/98, 122/98, 152/99, 278/99, 593/99, 597/99 and 205/00 (the "Ontario Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. Tom Dutton, Senior Vice President, The Daniels Corporation, Toronto, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. John Wright, Chief Building Official, Town of Markham, Ontario, to determine whether the four storey building, that is to contain a Group B, Division 3 occupancy on the first and second floors and a Group C occupancy on the third and fourth floors and that is proposed to be equipped with a single stage fire alarm system, complies with Clauses 3.2.4.3.(1)(b), (c) and (e) of the Ontario Building Code at the Renaissance at Swan Lake, 6360 16th Avenue, Markham, Ontario.

APPLICANT
Mr. Tom Dutton, Senior Vice President
The Daniels Corporation
Toronto, Ontario

RESPONDENT
Mr. John Wright
Chief Building Official
Town of Markham

PANEL
Dr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair
Mr. Fred Barkhouse
Mr. Donald Pratt

PLACE
Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING
April 12th, 2001

DATE OF RULING
April 12th, 2001

APPEARANCES
Mr. Randy Brown, President
Randal Brown & Associates
Willowdale, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Chris Bird
Manager of Plan Review
Markham, Ontario
Designate for the Respondent

RULING

1. The Applicant

Mr. Tom Dutton, Senior Vice President, The Daniels Corporation, Toronto, Ontario, has received a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 for the construction of an assisted living facility and senior's residential building known as the Renaissance at Swan Lake located at 6360 16th Avenue, Markham, Ontario.

2. Description of Construction

The Applicant has constructed a four storey building containing a Group B, Division 3 care occupancy on the first and second floors with a Group C residential occupancy on the third and fourth floors. The total building area is approximately 3,022 m2. The entire building has been sprinklered and provided with smoke detectors in the corridors. The structure is of noncombustible construction and includes a two hour rated fire separation between the second and third floors.

The construction in dispute involves the single stage fire alarm system proposed for the subject building. For the residential floors (third and fourth), hard-wired smoke alarms will be installed within each suite. It is intended that one smoke alarm within each suite will, upon actuation, be capable of sending a signal to an identification device located the concierge desk. The concierge will then, if necessary, be able to use the paging system to announce to the staff the specific suite in which the alarm occurred. The smoke alarms themselves, however, will be audible in the individual suites only.

In contrast, the B3 occupancy (first and second) floors will be provided with smoke detectors connected to the fire alarm system. Upon actuation of a specific smoke detector, a signal will be sent to the fire alarm control panel and an identification device. The identification device will then indicate the source of the signal at both the concierge's desk and the second floor nurse's station. In doing so, it will show the actual number of the room of the signal source. In addition, the Markham Fire Department will also be alerted. The signal they receive will indicate both the property address and the room number in which the alarm originated. The annunciating devices on these floors will provide a general alarm audible throughout the floors within the B3 occupancy.

3. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the provision of a single stage fire alarm system provides sufficiency of compliance with Clauses 3.2.4.3(1)(b), (c) and (e) of the Ontario Building Code.

Sentence 3.2.4.3.(b) requires a two stage alarm system in a Group B occupancy however, Sentence 3.2.4.3.(c) permits a single stage system for Group B, Division 3 occupancies in buildings of three storeys or less. In addition, Sentence 3.2.4.3.(1)(e) provides that Group C residential occupancies are permitted to be served by a single stage fire alarm system.

As mentioned above, the building subject to this dispute is a total of four storeys in height, contains a B3 occupancy and is to provide only a single stage fire alarm system.

4. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Article 3.2.4.3. Types of Fire Alarm Systems

    1. A fire alarm system shall be
      1. a single stage system in a Group F, Division 1 occupancy.
      2. a 2 stage system in a Group B occupancy other than those described in Clause (c).
      3. a single of 2 stage system in a building 3 storeys or less in building height which contains a Group B, Division 2 occupancy.
      4. a single stage system in elementary and secondary school, except for a special needs facility, and
      5. a single or 2 stage system in all other cases.

5. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the type of fire alarm system should reflect the level of hazard present. He advised that while a Group C occupancy permits a single stage system, a Group B, Division 3 occupancy in buildings exceeding three storeys would require a two stage alarm system. In this instance, however, the increased hazard level and risks associated with a B3 care facility only apply to the first and second floors. He advised that the occupants of the facility are not bedridden and are frequently evaluated (every three months) to determine whether their physical condition has deteriorated. The single stage system proposed, requiring the immediate evacuation of the building, is sufficient in this instance. There are emergency nursing personnel present 24 hours a day on the first and second floors to assist in evacuation and a Fire Safety Plan is being approved and has been implemented.

The Applicant continued that the building exceeds the Code requirements in a number of respects. There is an addressable system installed, providing voice communication speakers throughout the building. In addition, there are smoke alarms in the individual suites which provide annunciation at the second floor nurse's station and the concierge desk. There are also smoke detectors in the corridors and the building is fully sprinklered, as required by the Code.

In summation, the Applicant put forth the position that, as the increased hazard is only present on the first two floors, the Code requirements for Group B, Division 3 occupancies in buildings three storeys or less, which would require only a single stage system, should apply in this instance.

6. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted that the Code requirement reads that a two stage system is required in buildings exceeding three storeys, containing a Group B, Division 3 occupancy. They have no authorization to vary from the Code requirements.

Based on the Applicant's assurances with respect to the physical condition of the occupants, the Respondent indicated that they are satisfied there would be no unnecessary risk involved in the mandatory evacuation of the building required by a single stage alarm system, however the wording of the Code does not permit them to accept this proposal.

7. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the four storey building that is to contain a Group B, Division 3 occupancy on the first and second floors and a Group C occupancy on the third and fourth floors and is proposed to be equipped with a single stage fire alarm system provides sufficiency of compliance with Clauses 3.2.4.3(1)(b)(c) and (e) of the Ontario Building Code at the Renaissance at Swan Lake, 6360 16th Avenue, Markham, Ontario.

8. Reasons

    1. Only the first and second floors contain a Group B, Division 3 occupancy, hence the risks associated with this type of use apply to only two storeys, not the entire four storey building.

    2. There will be no compromise to the level of safety present.

    3. The Fire Department agrees with the single stage alarm system.

    4. The first and second storey occupants are not bedridden or on life support systems and are evaluated every three months.

Dated at Toronto this 12th day in the month of April, in the year 2001 for application number 2001-24.



_________________________________________________________________

Dr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair





_________________________________________________________________

Mr. Fred Barkhouse





_________________________________________________________________

Mr. Donald Pratt