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BCC Ruling No. 00-02-734

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #00-02-734

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Article 3.2.2.40 and Sentence 3.2.5.13.(1) of Regulation 403, as amended by O. Reg. 22/98, 102/98, 122/98, 152/99, 278/99, 593/99 and 597/99 (the "Ontario Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. Al Evans, Project Manager, David J. Cupido Construction Limited, Kingston, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Doug Ferguson, Chief Building Official, City of Brantford, Ontario, to determine whether the proposed sprinkler system, designed according to NFPA 13R, and intended for use in a Group B, Division 3 occupancy provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.2.2.40. and Sentence 3.2.5.13.(1) of the Ontario Building Code at the McInnes House, 170 Henry Street, Brantford, Ontario.

APPLICANT
Mr. Al Evans, Project Manager
David J. Cupido Construction Limited
Kingston, Ontario

RESPONDENT
Mr. Doug Ferguson
Chief Building Official
City of Brantford

PANEL
Mr. James Lischkoff (Chair-Designate)
Mr. Donald Pratt
Mr. Fred Barkhouse

PLACE
Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING
January 13, 2000

DATE OF RULING
January 13, 2000

APPEARANCES
Mr. Al Evans, Project Manager
David J. Cupido Construction Limited
Kingston, Ontario
The Applicant

RULING

  1. The Applicant
  2. Mr. Al Evans, Project Manager, David J. Cupido Construction Limited, Kingston, Ontario, has received a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 and is currently constructing a care facility for deaf and blind persons known as the McInnes House at 170 Henry Street, Kingston, Ontario.

  3. Description of Constrution

    The Applicant is currently constructing a new care facility intended as a residence for 14 deaf and blind persons. The building is described as one storey in building height, 665.53 m2 in building area, and is of combustible construction. The structure is slab on grade construction (with in-floor hydronic heating) and therefore has no crawl space or basement. The building is classified as having a Group B, Division 3 (care) occupancy under the 1997 Ontario Building Code.

    The building is to have a total of six independent suites, each with their own livingroom and diningroom areas and kitchen and bathroom facilities. Four of the suites are to have three bedrooms, while the other two will be single bedroom units for a total of 14 bedrooms. All of the suites are provided with at least one barrier-free accessible washroom. The suites are arranged three per side along a central corridor that is equipped with exit doors at each end. Administrative offices, staff washrooms, an activity room and mechanical and electrical rooms are located off either side of the central corridor as well. There will also be a mechanical room located in the central portion of the attic space that will house the air conditioning equipment. Beyond the two exits that will lead directly to the exterior at grade level, each suite and the activity room will contain an inward swinging, access door that will also lead directly to the exterior.

    Fire separations with a 3/4 hour fire-resistance rating are to be provided in the wall assemblies between the suites (as well as the administrative areas) and between the suites and the corridor. The same fire-resistance rating will be provided in the separation between the ceiling and attic space. The mechanical room in the attic will also be enclosed with 3/4 hour rated walls.

    The structure will be equipped with a computerized, centrally controlled and monitored motion sensor and fire alarm system as well as a sprinkler system. The alarm system will be equipped with pull stations, strobe lights (corridor only) and sirens and will be interconnected with the smoke detectors. Smoke detection will be provided throughout the floor area, but only in the mechanical room of the attic. There is also a fire hydrant on the property.

    Staff will be present in the facility 24 hours a day to provide supervision and assistance for the residents. The staffing level will be at its lowest overnight when a minimum of three persons will be present. The motion sensor will enable staff to determine when residents are moving about within their rooms and/or suites. This will give staff the opportunity to visit the resident to ascertain if they need assistance. All 14 of the residents are ambulatory. This may change with time, however. The construction in dispute involves the proposed sprinkler system. The Applicant is proposing that the sprinkler system be designed and installed in accordance with the requirements of NFPA 13R, "Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Residential Occupancies up to and Including Four Stories in Height."

  4. Dispute

    The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the proposed sprinkler system, designed according to NFPA 13R, and intended for use in a Group B, Division 2 occupancy provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.2.2.40. and Sentence 3.2.5.13.(1) of the Ontario Building Code.

    Article 3.2.2.40. requires that a B2 occupancy must be sprinklered even though it may be of combustible construction. Sentence 3.2.5.13.(1) states that a required sprinkler system must meet NFPA 13, whereas Sentence 3.2.5.13.(2), provides an exception to Sentence (1) by allowing low rise (four stories or less) residential occupancies to comply with the more relaxed sprinkler standards found in NFPA 13R. The basic difference between these sprinkler systems is that the NFPA 13 standard requires that all spaces of a building be protected with sprinklering. This includes unoccupied areas such as closets and concealed spaces such as attics and crawl spaces. The NFPA 13R standard, on the other hand, stipulates that a sprinkler system need only be designed and installed for all occupied rooms.

    In such an application in order to ascertain the sprinkler requirements it is therefore essential to determine whether the subject building can be considered residential due to its use and occupancy. Article 3.1.2.5. permits certain buildings classified as having a Group B occupancy to be considered residential occupancies in the appropriate circumstances and under various conditions. The conditions set out in this provision are that the occupants operate as a single housekeeping unit, that there is sleeping accommodation for no more than ten persons and that no more than two persons would require assistance to evacuate in case of an emergency.

    The subject proposal does not meet any of the conditions stipulated in Article 3.1.2.5. With six separate suites, the residents would not operate as a single housekeeping unit. Sleeping accommodation is provided for 14 persons. As well, due to the fact that the residents will possess certain degrees of blindness and deafness obviously more than two persons would require assistance to evacuate in an emergency. As a result, the subject building cannot be considered as residential as per Article 3.1.2.5. and as a Group B occupancy is thus required under the OBC to install a sprinkler system as per NFPA 13.

    At issue therefore, is whether the proposed B3 building offers any compensating measures to achieve sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.2.2.40. and Sentence 3.2.5.13.(1), which require that the sprinkler system be built according to NFPA 13.


  5. Provision of the Building Code

    Article 3.2.2.40. - Group B, Division 2 or Division 3, up to 2 Storeys, Sprinklered

    1. A building classified as Group B, Division 2 or Division 3 is permitted to conform to Sentence (2) provided:
      1. except as permitted by Sentence 3.2.2.7.(1), the building is sprinklered;
      2. it is not more than 2 storeys in building height; and
      3. it has a building area not more than:
        1. ) 2,400 m2 (25,800 ft2) if 1 storey in building height; or
        2. 1,600 m2 (17,200 ft2) if 2 storeys in building height.
    2. The building referred to in Sentence (1) is permitted to be of combustible construction or noncombustible construction used singly or in combination, and:
      1. floor assemblies shall be fire separations with a fire-resistance rating not less than 45 min,
      2. mezzanines shall have, if of combustible construction, a fire-resistance rating not less than 45 min, and
      3. loadbearing walls, columns and arches shall have a fire-resistance rating not less than that required for the supported assembly.

Sentences 3.2.5.13.(1) and (2) - Automatic Sprinkler Systems

  1. Except as permitted by Sentences (2), (3) and (4), an automatic sprinkler system shall be designed, constructed, installed and tested in conformance with NFPA 13, "Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems". (See Appendix A.)

  2. Instead of the requirements of Sentence (1), NFPA 13R, "Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Residential Occupancies up to and Including Four Stories in Height", is permitted to be used for the design, construction, installation and testing of an automatic sprinkler system installed in a building of residential occupancy that is not more than 4 storeys in building height.

Article 3.1.2.5. - Group B, Division 3 Occupancies

  1. Group B, Division 3 occupancies are permitted to be classified as Group C major occupancies provided:
    1. the occupants live as a single housekeeping unit in a dwelling unit with sleeping accommodation for not more than 10 persons; and
    2. not more than 2 occupants require assistance in evacuation in case of an emergency.


  • Applicant's Position

    The Applicant submitted that the proposed design of the building provides a similar level of life safety to that intended in the OBC and thereby provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.2.2.40. and Sentence 3.2.5.13.(1). In addition to the fire safety features shown on plan, he indicated that he was also prepared to supply the entire floor area of the building with sprinkler protection conforming to NFPA 13, which would include concealed spaces such as closets and all washrooms (even those less than 5.1 m2) as well as adding smoke detection in rest of attic. This would leave the attic as the only unsprinklered area, he noted.

    The Applicant also argued that although the residents are deaf and blind, due to the nature of their disabilities they become very familiar with their physical surroundings and once advised to evacuate could do so quickly. Also, with a minimum of 3 staff to assist in evacuation and with doors leading directly to the exterior in each suite, the total emergency evacuation process would be prompt and orderly. He indicated that a fire safety plan is being developed in conjunction with the local fire department.

    Lastly, the Applicant indicated that, in his view, the primary benefit of installing a fully compliant NFPA 13 sprinkler system would be enhanced property protection. He stated that with respect to the subject care home he believes it has been designed with cost effective, but adequate, life safety features.


  • Respondent's Position

    The Respondent chose not to attend the hearing. The Commission therefore relied upon his written submission only.

    The Respondent submitted that the NFPA 13 standard of sprinklering provides a greater degree of protection than NFPA 13R. Moreover, the building at hand, he argued, would contain more than two people who would require assistance to evacuate in an emergency. As a result, the subject building does not meet the criteria found in Article 3.1.2.5. of the 1997 Ontario Building Code that allows a care facility to be considered as having a residential occupancy. As a care occupancy, therefore, the structure must conform to the NFPA 13 standards for sprinkler design and installation.

    No comment was provided as to whether any of the proposed compensating measures were, in his view, adequate.


  • Commission Ruling

    It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposed sprinkler system in the group home (known as the McInnes House) at 170 Henry Street, Brantford, Ontario, provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.2.2.40. and Sentence 3.2.5.13.(1) of the Ontario Building Code on condition that:

    i) Smoke and heat detectors are provided throughout the attic spaces including the mechanical room and that these are interconnected with the heat detection system installed in the occupied areas.
    ii) The mechanical area in the attic is sprinklered as well as all spaces on the main floor.


  • Reasons

    (i) The building is a non-smoking facility.
    (ii) There are two egress routes from each suite.
    (iii) There are pull stations in the common areas as well as at the suite exits and these are interconnected with the smoke/heat detection system.
    (iv) There is trained supervision done in conjunction with the fire department.
    (v) A building evacuation plan will be developed and the occupants will be trained.
    (vi) There is a 100 mm water line and fire hydrant on site.



  • Dated at Toronto this 13th day in the month of January, in the year 2000, for application number 1999-88.





    ____________________________

    Mr. James Lischkoff, Chair-Designate





    _______________________

    Mr. Donald Pratt





    __________________________

    Mr. Fred Barkhouse