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BCC Ruling No. 00-24-756

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentence 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. Don Gordon, Head of Design Build, Cooper Construction Ltd., Oakville, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Doug Ferguson, Chief Building Official, City of Brantford, to determine whether the proposed roof assembly, which is to be constructed with fibreglass reinforced polymer panels, provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence of the Ontario Building Code at the Pure Metals Galvanizing Plant, 32 Bodine Drive, Brantford, Ontario.

Mr. Don Gordon, Head of Design Build
Cooper Construction Ltd.
Oakville, Ontario

Mr. Doug Ferguson
Chief Building Official
City of Brantford

Dr. Kenneth Peaker (Chair-Designate)
Mr. Fred Barkhouse
Mr. John Guthrie

Toronto, Ontario

May 25th, 2000

May 25th, 2000

Mr. Jonathan Rubes
Leber/Rubes Inc.
Toronto, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Doug Ferguson
Chief Building Official
City of Brantford
The Respondent


1. The Applicant

Mr. Don Gordon, Head of Design Build, Cooper Construction Ltd., Oakville, Ontario, has received a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct an addition to an existing industrial building located at 32 Bodine Drive, Brantford, Ontario.

2. Description of Construction

The Applicant is proposing to extend an existing Group F, Division 3 - Low Hazard Industrial building. The building primarily serves as a used steel galvanizing plant. The existing building is 2,882.5 m2 in building area, one storey in building height, and of combustible construction. The new addition will occupy an area of 2,856.8 m2, thereby increasing the total building area to 5,739.3 m2. The proposed addition will be one storey in building height, of noncombustible construction, and will be equipped with a standpipe and hose system. The maximum occupant load of the entire building is intended to remain at 300.

The proposed roof assembly for the new addition consists of fibreglass reinforced polymer (FRP) roof deck panels, 12.5 mm gypsum board, 25 mm foamed plastic insulation, and a built-up roof membrane. The proposed FRP panels are described as combustible. However, according to the Applicant, the panels meet CAN/ULC-S126-M (Standard Method of Test for Fire Spread Under Roof-Deck Assemblies), the standard for metal roof decks that support combustible materials. As well, with a maximum flame spread rating of 25, the roof deck panels also meet CAN/ULC-S102-M, "Standard Method of Test for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials and Assemblies". (Compliance with this standard is also required since the deck panels are to be installed below the drywall and therefore act as an interior finish.)

The construction in dispute involves the Applicant's proposed use of a combustible material in the roof assembly of the new addition.

3. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the proposed roof assembly, which is to be constructed with combustible fibreglass reinforced polymer panels, provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence of the Ontario Building Code (OBC).

This provision requires, with certain exceptions which do not apply to the construction in dispute, that noncombustible materials must be used in a building, which under the Code, is required to be of noncombustible construction. The new addition is proposed to be of noncombustible construction except for a portion of the roof assembly. As noted above, the proposed roof assembly is to contain combustible fibreglass reinforced polymer (FRP) panels.

4. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Sentence Noncombustible Materials

  1. Except as permitted by Articles to, and, a building or part of a building required to be of noncombustible construction, shall be constructed with noncombustible materials.

5. Applicant's Position

The Agent for the Applicant submitted that the FRP roof panels provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentence of the Code.

The Agent explained that because of the nature of the used steel galvanizing process undertaken in the subject plant, they are trying to limit the amount of material, i.e. metal, that can corrode as a result of fugitive vapours created from the chemical cleansing of steel. During this process, which occurs prior to galvanizing, used steels are put into several baths and rinses containing chemicals such as hydrochloric acid. The vapours from the chemicals are not compatible with metals and cause corrosion. Due to the rising vapours, metal roof panels especially are susceptible to this corrosive effect. As a result, the Applicant intends to use the subject fibreglass reinforced polymer panels.

The Agent stated that while the FRP panels do not meet CAN4-S114, "Standard Method of Test for Determination of Non-Combustibility in Building Materials", they do meet the roof deck (CAN/ULC-S126-M) and the interior finish standards (CAN/ULC-S102-M). Moreover, with as much as 45 percent of the content of the panels consisting of glass - a noncombustible material - the Agent argued that the proposed roof decking offers the highest level of noncombustibility for a combustible material. As well, the roof for the proposed addition, he noted, is not required to be fire rated under Article

The Agent also agued it can be demonstrated that the FRP panel "achieves the performance intent of the Code for a roof material in the context of fire safety in a building. As he stated:

"The Code recognizes that it is not practical to construct a building entirely of noncombustible material. As such, the Code permits certain elements to be of combustible materials in a building required to be of noncombustible construction. None of those exceptions identify a roof deck. However, the Code does establish performance criteria for the roof deck with respect to fire spread and flame spread rating, both of which are met.

"The Code also recognizes, by Sentence, that materials which vary from specific requirements in Parts 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 may be used if the person requesting their use can establish on the basis of past performance, tests described in Article, or other evaluation that the use of the proposed material will provide a level of performance that would be achieved by conformance with the requirements of the Code." In other words, materials can also be evaluated to ensure that the intent of the specific Code provision is met. And in the Agent's view, "(t)he intent of the Code for requiring a building to be constructed of noncombustible materials is to preclude those materials from contributing to the fire load of a building and directly causing the spread of fire." The Agent then turned his attention to tests conducted on the FRP panels regarding their fuel contribution and fire spread.

In terms of these tests, the Agent stated that they "indicate that the FRP roof deck material contributes minimally to the building's fire load and does not directly contribute to the spread of fire beyond the area of flame impingement. A FRP roof deck assembly is rated as a Class 1 roof assembly by FMRC (Factory Mutual Research Corporation). This classification is based on a metal roof deck."

The Agent noted that if a metal sheet was placed between the decking and the drywall, and if that sheet were called the deck, then there would be no dispute. He indicated, however, that such a metal sheet would not improve the fire safety of the proposed roof system because it already meets all the appropriate performance requirements. And in the case of the subject galvanizing plant, with its corrosive vapours, installing a metal sheet might create a less appropriate roofing system.

The Agent concluded that while the FRP roof panels are considered combustible, the FRP roof panels provide sufficiency of compliance with the performance intended by the Code for a roof deck that is not required to be fire rated.

6. Respondent's Position

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

The Respondent submitted that they do not accept the proposed FRP roof deck as noncombustible material as it has not been tested to CAN4-S114, nor has it been listed as an acceptable combustible material to be used in noncombustible construction under the Code.

The Respondent argued that under the Code noncombustible construction is defined as " that type of construction in which a degree of fire safety is attained by the use of noncombustible materials for structural members and other building assemblies". The Code also defines "noncombustible" as material that meets CAN4-S114 standards. There is no evidence or submission that indicates the proposed roof panels meet the acceptance criteria of CAN4-S114. As a result, the proposed material cannot attain the performance level of noncombustible material, the Respondent concluded.

7. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposed roof assembly, which is to be constructed with fibreglass reinforced polymer panels, provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence of the Ontario Building Code.

8. Reasons

i. Moisture protected, fire rated 16 mm (5/8 in) drywall is incorporated into the roof design.

ii. Life safety in the proposed addition is not reduced due to the presence of FRP panels.

iii. The performance criteria for a roof that supports a combustible material has been met.

Dated at Toronto this 25th day in the month of May in the year 2000 for application number 2000-29.


Dr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair-Designate


Mr. John Guthrie


Mr. Fred Barkhouse