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BCC Ruling No. 00-35-767

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. No. 00-35-767

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Articles 3.1.5.16., 3.1.13.3. and Sentence 3.1.13.7.(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. Bert Steenburgh, General Manager, 1086891 Ontario Inc., Burlington, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Daniel Mousseau, Chief Building Official, City of Burlington, to determine whether the proposed sprinklering of certain bathrooms, offered as a compensating measure in lieu of meeting the required flame-spread rating and smoke developed classification with respect to the as-installed whirlpool bathtubs, provides sufficiency of compliance with Articles 3.1.5.16., 3.1.13.3. and Sentence 3.1.13.7.(1) of the Ontario Building Code at Units 1 to 9, Fifth Floor, Burlington Square Plaza Garden Apartments, 1460 Ghent Avenue, Burlington, Ontario.

APPLICANT
Mr. Bert Steenburgh, General Manager
1086891 Ontario Inc.
Burlington, Ontario

RESPONDENT
Mr. Daniel Mousseau
Chief Building Official
City of Burlington

PANEL
Dr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair
Mr. John Guthrie
Mr. Len King

PLACE
Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING
July 27th, 2000

DATE OF RULING
July 27th, 2000

APPEARANCES
Mr. Myron Karp, Principal
Karp Namisniak Yamamoto Architects Inc.
Burlington, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Terry Hewitson
Building Official
City of Burlington
Designate for the Respondent

RULING

1. The Applicant

Mr. Bert Steenburgh, General Manager, 1086891 Ontario Inc., Burlington, Ontario, has received a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 and has renovated an existing building, creating residential suites on the fifth floor (Units 1 to 9) at the Burlington Square Plaza Garden Apartments, 1460 Ghent Avenue, Burlington, Ontario.

2. Description of Construction

The Applicant has carried out renovations to an existing 17 storey building having a building area of 22, 275 m2. The structure is of noncombustible construction and is equipped with a sprinkler system (in the commercial area only), a fire alarm system and a standpipe and hose system. The building, previously used for commercial purposes, now has a Group C major occupancy classification.

As part of the renovation of the building for residential purposes, the storage units located on the fifth floor of the building, have been converted into nine residential suites. Within each of these suites the bathroom has been designed to include an acrylic whirlpool bathtub. The tubs are CSA approved, however, they have not been tested under the guidelines set out in the Ontario Building Code. As a result, it has not been determined whether the tubs meet the flame-spread rating or smoke developed classification requirements for plumbing fixtures within residential units of a high building. Based on similar testing of the acrylic material used in these tubs, it appears unlikely that the fixtures would meet all of the OBC requirements.

As compensation for the likely reduction in the performance level of the nine tubs, the Applicant is proposing to install wall-mounted sprinklers in each of the affected bathrooms.

3. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the proposed sprinklering of the bathrooms, offered as a compensating measure in lieu of confirmation that the whirlpool tubs meet the flame-spread rating and smoke developed classification requirements, provides sufficiency of compliance with in Articles 3.1.5.16., 3.1.13.3. and Sentence 3.1.13.7.(1) the Ontario Building Code.

As outlined in Article 3.1.5.16., combustible plumbing fixtures are permitted within a building that is required to be of noncombustible construction provided that they do not have a flame-spread rating and smoke developed classification more than the walls of the room in which they are installed. Article 3.1.13.3. specifies that the flame-spread rating for interior walls and ceilings for a residential bathroom suite shall not be more than 200.

In this instance, the acrylic whirlpool tubs have not been specifically analyzed to determine whether their flame-spread rating and smoke developed classification are in conformance with CAN/ULC-S102-M, "Standard Method of Test for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials and Assemblies". It is anticipated however, that if tested, the bathtubs may fail to meet the requirements of the OBC.

Further, Sentence 3.1.13.7.(1) outlines the requirements for flame-spread rating and smoke developed classification in high buildings. As mentioned above, the building in this instance is 17 storeys in building height, however, the installed bathtub fixtures do not appear to meet the parameters outlined in Table 3.1.13.7. This table requires a maximum smoke developed classification of 300 and a maximum flame-spread rating of 200.

It may be noted that Sentence 3.1.13.7.(2) permits the smoke developed classification to exceed the maximum levels outlined in Table 3.1.13.7., for buildings not containing a Group B major occupancy, provided that the building is sprinklered and that the sprinkler system is electrically supervised.

Sprinklering is proposed as a compensating measure in this instance however, it would be limited to the bathrooms containing the whirlpool tubs. The building, with the exception of the commercial areas, is not fully sprinklered.


4. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Articles 3.1.5.16. Combustible Plumbing Fixtures

(1)

Combustible plumbing fixtures, including wall and ceiling enclosures that form part of the plumbing fixtures, are permitted in a building required to be of noncombustible construction provided they are constructed of material having a flame-spread rating and smoke developed classification not more than that permitted for the wall surface of the room or space in which they are installed.

Article 3.1.13.3. Bathrooms in Residential Suites

(1)

The flame-spread rating of interior wall and ceiling finished for a bathroom within a suite of residential occupancy shall not be more than 200.

Sentence 3.1.13.7. High Buildings

(1)

Except as permitted by Sentences (2) and (3), the interior wall, ceiling and floor finishes in a building regulated by the provisions of Subsection 3.2.6. shall conform to the flame-spread rating requirements in Articles 3.1.13.2. to 3.1.13.6. and to the flame-spread rating and smoke developed classification values in Table 3.1.13.7.

5. Applicant's Position

By way of background, the Agent for the Applicant explained that, in the conversion of the storage units to residential suites, it was thought to be beneficial, from a leasing point of view, to include acrylic whirlpool bathtubs as a feature of the bathroom facilities. After the tubs were installed, it came to their intention that the Building Code requirements for combustible construction in a combustible building had changed. As a result, they proceeded to seek out information with respect to the flame-spread rating and smoke developed classification for the installed tubs. They contacted the tub manufacturer, Tomlin Industries, who provided various documentation relative to the materials used in the construction of the tub enclosures. The testing of the materials was conducted using ASTM E84 parameters. It was concluded, however, that this could not be compared or converted to measurements relative to the CAN/ULC-S102 standard required. Moreover, Tomlin Industries would not agree to undertake the specific testing required to make a determination on the standards of the tubs. In any event, it was expected that the tubs may not meet the required standards outlined in the OBC.

The Agent went on to submit that, the bathtubs in question can be used in residential suites wherever the high building standards do not apply. He acknowledge, however, that because Section 3.2.7. of the Code does come into play, the tubs do not meet the OBC requirements. Nevertheless, in lieu of these requirements he has proposed to install wall mounted sprinklers in the bathrooms containing the noncompliant tubs. This, he argued, is sufficient compensation to alleviate life safety concerns and would meet the intent of the Building Code.

6. Respondent's Position

The Designate for the Respondent submitted that the ASTM standards are different from the required CAN/ULC-S102 standard outlined in the Code. He suggested that the tubs may, in fact, meet the flame-spread requirements, however, he believes they would be far from meeting the smoke developed classification measurements.

In response to the proposed compensation offered by the sprinklering of the bathroom, the Designate argued that, if a fire were to start in one of these bathrooms, sprinklering of that area may help. If the fire started outside of the bathroom, however, it would most likely overwhelm the area. He acknowledged that the Code makes allowance for combustible fixtures in a building of noncombustible construction where sprinklering is provided, but submitted that the whole building must be sprinklered for this exception to apply. That is not the case in this instance.

7. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposed sprinklering of the affected bathrooms, offered as a compensating measure in lieu of meeting the required flame-spread rating and smoke developed classification for the whirlpool bathtubs, provides sufficiency of compliance with Articles 3.1.5.16., 3.1.13.3 and Sentence 3.1.13.7.(1) of the Ontario Building Code for Units 1 to 9 on the fifth floor, Burlington Square Plaza Garden Apartments, 1460 Ghent Avenue, Burlington, Ontario.

8. Reasons

i. The proposed sprinklering, which is not required by the Ontario Building Code, will provide a sufficient increase in the safety for the occupants of the residential units.

ii. The tubs have been tested under ASTM standards and may comply with the flame-spread requirements of the OBC.

iii. Sprinklering of the bathroom area will sufficiently compensate for the expected deficiency in compliance with the CAN/ULC-S102 standard outlined in the Code.




Dated at Toronto this 27th day in the month of July in the year 2000 for application number 2000-37.


_________________________________________________________________

Dr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair





_________________________________________________________________

Mr. John Guthrie





_________________________________________________________________

Mr. Len King