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BCC Ruling No. 00-16-748

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #00-16-748

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentence 3.2.9.1.(1) 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. Gary Leblanc, 340268 Ontario Limited, Kitchener, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Bruce Poole, Chief Building Official, City of Guelph, Ontario, to determine whether the various proposed compensating construction measures, offered in lieu of a standpipe and hose system, provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.2.9.1.(1) of the Ontario Building Code at Patene Building Supplies, 641 Speedvale Avenue West, Guelph, Ontario.

APPLICANT
Mr. Gary Leblanc
340268 Ontario Limited
Kitchener, Ontario

RESPONDENT
Mr. Bruce Poole
Chief Building Official
City of Guelph

PANEL
Mr. Kenneth Peaker (Chair-Designate)
Mr. John Guthrie
Mr. Donald Pratt

PLACE
Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING
April 13th, 2000

DATE OF RULING
April 13th, 2000

APPEARANCES
Mr. Gary Leblanc
340268 Ontario Limited
Kitchener, Ontario
The Applicant


Mr. Rob Reynen
Supervisor of Inspection Services
City of Guelph
Designate for the Respondent

RULING

1. The Applicant

Mr. Gary Leblanc, 340268 Ontario Limited, Kitchener, Ontario, has received a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct a wholesale warehouse known as Patene Building Supplies, 641 Speedvale Avenue West, Guelph, Ontario.

2. Description of Construction

The Applicant has constructed a building to serve as a wholesale warehouse for construction materials. The building consists of two main parts, a one storey warehouse portion which covers an area of 2119 m2 and a two storey administrative and sales portion with a building area of 558 m2. The building is described as having a Group F, Division 3 - Low Hazard Industrial major occupancy as well as a Group D - Business and Personal Services occupancy, which is subsidiary to the warehouse. The entire building is 2677 m2 in building area, two storeys in building height, and of noncombustible construction. The structure is equipped with a fire detection system, but not a sprinkler system nor a standpipe and hose system.

The subject building is rectangular in shape and has dimensions of 36.5 m by 73 m with its length constructed along the western property line. The property is also rectangular with dimensions of 114 by 242 m. The building is situated in the south-west corner of the property and is set back 4.4 m and 23.5 m from the west and south property lines respectively. There is a 1060 m2 drive through canopy attached to the warehouse portion of the building’s eastern exposing face. A parking lot adjacent to the street occupies the entire southern end of the property. The remainder of the site, to the north of the building and east of the canopy, is a material storage yard. The property is considered to face two streets and there are two fire hydrants near the property, one is located 6.4 m to the west of the building (on the adjacent property) and the other is 26 m from the front of the building (on its south side).

The structure is served by a total of six exit doors, with at least one on each exposing building face. As well, there are four large shipping doors, three on the east side and one on the north. There are 19 fire extinguishers located within the facility, four of which are on the exterior side of the building’s east wall. The fire detection system includes thirty-four monitored detectors installed throughout the building, 31 of which are in the two floors of the office area and 3 are in the warehouse. It is ULC approved, provides zone indication and is centrally monitored with notification at the fire department. The occupant load of the building is 16, according to the Applicant.

The construction in dispute involves the omission of the standpipe and hose system. At 2677 m2, the subject building is required to be fitted with such a system. The Applicant describes the wall assembly separating the warehouse and office areas as being firestopped with a minimum fire resistance rating of 1.5 hours and equipped with doors with closing devices. (Between such occupancies, the OBC does not require a fire separation. Nevertheless, it is not considered a firewall that would create two smaller buildings for Code purposes.) This wall also has several wired glass window openings between the shipping office on the ground floor, the lunchroom on the second floor and the warehouse. It also has three doors to allow access between the two areas.

3. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the various compensating construction measures, offered in lieu of a standpipe and hose system, provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.2.9.1.(1) of the Ontario Building Code. This provision requires that every building (with a few exceptions that are not applicable here), which is more than three storeys in building height, 14 m in height (measured between grade and the ceiling of the top storey), or of a certain building area if the building is unsprinklered, to be equipped with a standpipe system. If the final situation is applicable, the building area thresholds are set out in Table 3.2.9.1.

Table 3.2.9.1.

Occupancy Classification

Building Area, m2 (ft2)

1 Storey

2 Storeys

3 Storeys

A
C
D
F, Division 2
F, Division 3

2 500 (24,200)
2 000 (21,500)
4 000 (43,100)
2 000 (21,500)
3 000 (32,300)

2 000 (21,500)
1 500 (16,100)
3 000 (32,300)
1 500 (16,100)
2 000 (21,500)

1 500 (16,100)
1 000 (10,800)
2 000 (21,500)
1 000 (10,800)
1 000 (10,800)

Column 1

2

3

4

According to this Table, an F3 building two storeys in building height may have a maximum area of 2000 m2 or less in order to be exempted from the requirement to install a standpipe and hose system. The subject building is considered two storeys in building height and has an area of 2675 m2. As noted, however, the Applicant is offering certain compensating measures in lieu of providing the standpipe system. At issue then, is whether subject measures are adequate to achieve the same level of safety offered by a standpipe system and thereby provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.2.9.1.(1).

4. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Article 3.2.9.1. Standpipe Systems - Where Required

  1. Except as provided in Sentences (4) to (7), a standpipe system shall be installed in every building that
    1. is more than 3 storeys in building height,
    2. is more than 14 m (45 ft 11 in) high measured between grade and the ceiling of the top storey, or
    3. is not more than 14 m (45 ft 11 in) high measured between grade and the ceiling of the top storey but has a building area exceeding the area shown in Table 3.2.9.1. for the applicable building height if the building is not sprinklered.

5. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the five principle measures they are offering in lieu of the required standpipe system provide adequate compensation to meet the fire safety standards intended under Article 3.2.9.1. These compensatory measures are:

  • A fire separation with a 1.5 hr fire resistance rating between the warehouse and the office portions of the building;
  • A monitored fire detection system and numerous fire extinguishers throughout the building;
  • Proximity to the fire fighting department;
  • Proximity to two hydrants and good fire fighting access to 90 % of the building; and,
  • Extremely low fire load.

The Applicant noted that no separation is required under the Code between the warehouse and the office building, and as a result he argued that the as-built 1.5 hour wall can be considered as a significant compensating measure.

The Applicant then noted that the fire detection system, with a total of 34 monitored detectors, will provide a comprehensive and interconnected level of fire detection throughout the building. The as-installed fire detection system, he argued, also provides a higher level of early warning than is required by Code for such a building. As well, the 19 fire extinguishers that are strategically placed around the structure will provide a good level of protection in the early stages of a fire emergency. Moreover, the staff have been trained by the fire department in terms of the use of the extinguishers, he added.

Regarding the proximity to the fire department, the Applicant stated that the building is located only 4 km from the nearest municipal fire station which means that their response time to his facility is less than five minutes. As far as the proximity of hydrants is concerned, he noted that there are two hydrants, one to the west and one to the front, of the building at an approximate distance of 6.4 m and 29 m respectively. As a result, the building is well served by hydrants.

The Applicant also indicated that because the building is of entirely noncombustible construction and is used as a wholesale facility for mainly noncombustible building materials, such as drywall and masonry, the fire load of the building and its contents is extremely low. He noted that materials such as roofing products are stored outside.

The Applicant concluded that the compensating measures provided, combined with the low occupant load of 16, is sufficient to achieve the same level of safety offered by a standpipe and hose system.

6. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted that the building area of the Patene Building Supplies facility is in excess of the area specified in Table 3.2.9.1 by 33%. As a result, he stated that the building is required to be equipped with a standpipe and hose system.

The Respondent argued that no relief from the standpipe system can be obtain as a result of the 1.5 hour fire rated wall separating the office and warehouse areas. This wall, he noted, is not a firewall that would serve to divide the building into two separate ones. Moreover, the subject fire separation has been breached by several penetrations. As well, the Code does not offer specific allowances providing relief from a standpipe system with the provision of such compartmentalization, he added.

The Respondent indicated that while the fire detection could be construed as above minimum Code requirements, it is not a full fledged system that would provide a substantial compensating measure. For example, the fire detection system does not have pull stations.

The Respondent stated that to his knowledge the hydrant to the west of the building is a private one on the adjacent property, thus making it uncertain whether it can be used for the building under dispute, if necessary. Besides, even if the hydrant can be used for the Applicant’s property, there are few openings in the west wall of the building to offer a decent level of accessibility into the structure.

Finally, the Respondent argued that while the building is currently used as a facility that stores and supplies mainly noncombustible building material, the situation may not remain that way. The Applicant, or a future purchaser, may decide at a later date to supply combustible materials instead. When, or if, this occurs the building department would have no control or input to require a standpipe system at that time, the Respondent said.

In conclusion, the Respondent acknowledged that certain levels of compensation were being offered, however, he indicated that, in his view, they were not sufficient to offset the need for the required standpipe system.

7. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the various proposed compensating construction measures, offered in lieu of a standpipe and hose system, do not provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.2.9.1.(1) of the Ontario Building Code at Patene Building Supplies, 641 Speedvale Avenue West, Guelph, Ontario.

8. Reasons

The measures offered to achieve sufficiency of compliance were not commensurate with the substantial amount of building area found in the existing structure over the threshold of allowable building area in Table 3.2.9.1.

Some of the measures offered as compensation such as occupant or fuel loads may be transitory and could change significantly and quickly.

The use of the building, as Group D and F3 occupancies, is not one such as a steel plant or heavy industry that may create a hazard if a standpipe and hose system is introduced to the structure.

Dated at Toronto this 13th, day in the month of April in the year 2000 for application number 2000-16.

_______________________________________________

Mr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair-Designate

_______________________________________________

Mr. John Guthrie

_______________________________________________

Mr. Donald Pratt