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BCC Ruling No. 99-04-660

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #99-04-660

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentence 3.3.1.11.(3) of Regulation 403, as amended by O. Reg. 22/98, 102/98 and 122/98 (the "Ontario Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr.Jaswant Dass, Owner, Jaswant Dass in Trust, 30 Vice Regent Blvd., Toronto, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Bruce Ashton, Deputy Chief Building Official, City of Toronto (West District), Ontario to determine whether the movable wall partitions installed as store fronts in numerous business occupancies, and located in their only means of egress, provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.3.1.11.(3) of the Ontario Building Code at the Woodbine Market Centre, 30 Vice Regent Blvd., Toronto, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Mr. Jaswant Dass, Owner
Jaswant Dass in Trust
Toronto, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr.Bruce Ashton
Deputy Chief Building Official
City of Toronto (West District)

PANEL

Mr.Roy Philippe (Chair)
Mr.Ross Thomson
Mr.Larry Glazer

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

January 14,1999

DATE OF RULING

January 14, 1999

APPEARANCES

Mr.Sasha Milenov, Principal
Sasha Milenov Architect
Toronto, Ontario
For the Applicant

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Jaswant Dass, Owner, Jaswant Dass in Trust, Toronto, Ontario, has received a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct interior retail units in a one storey mall known as the Woodbine Market Centre at 30 Vice Regent Blvd., Toronto, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant has recently constructed interior booths within a one storey retail plaza structure classified as having a Group E - Mercantile occupancy, with a building area of 4,073 m2 (43,834.63 ft2). The building is a combination of combustible and noncombustible construction. It is equipped with a fire alarm system, a standpipe and hose system, and a sprinkler system.

The subject shopping mall contains several hundred small retail units ranging in size from 6.5 m2 to 18.5 m2. The units are separated by 3 m high combustible partitions that extend roughly half way to the 6 m high ceiling. The larger retail tenants as well as some of the smaller ones located near the building's perimeter are provided with two exits from their units, one to the exterior and one to the 3 m wide interior corridors. Many of the smaller tenants in the interior of the building have only one means of exit leading to the interior corridor.

At the "booth fronts" of all units, where they face the mall's interior corridors, the Applicant is proposing to install foldable horizontally sliding plastic and steel partitions that are manufactured by Dynaflair Corporation of Canada. While the movable partitions are not provided with swing-type egress doors, they are equipped with a "bi-part" folding door.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the proposed folding wall partitions, which are to be located in the only exit for many of the mall's retail units, provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.3.1.11.(3) of the Ontario Building Code. This provision allows an exemption regarding the requirement to provide a door that swings open in the direction of travel on the condition that the subject non-swinging door is not located in the only means of egress. For many of the smaller, interior units within the mall, the bi-part door is their only means of egress, if the folding wall is extended across the front of the booth.

  1. Provisions of the Building Code

Sentence 3.3.1.11. Sliding Doors

(3) Movable partitions used to separate a public corridor from an adjacent business and personal services occupancy or a mercantile occupancy need not conform to Sentence (1) and Sentences 3.3.1.10.(1) and (2) provided the partitions are not located in the only means of egress. (See Appendix A.)

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the proposed folding doors provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.3.1.11.(3) of the OBC. He argued that the subject doors would be appropriate in an emergency or panic situation when the wall is extended across the booth front since the latching mechanism, employing a thumb turn device, is quite simple to operate and the individual tenants would be familiar with their operation. In fact, keys are not necessary for these doors since the entire wall can be moved and locked in place. Nevertheless, as the Applicant indicated, when the wall is fully folded back, as it is during normal business hours which is when most tenants and shoppers are in the units, the entire booth front, open to the corridor, can act as the exit.

In addition, the Applicant argued that since the individual units are small and most often occupied by the actual tenants themselves, this means that any fire would be quickly noticed and those in the retail areas would be familiar with the building and its egress routes.

Lastly, the Applicant indicated that since the structure is equipped with a fire alarm system, a standpipe and hose system and a sprinkler system, the building is quite safe. For these reasons the Applicant believed that sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.3.1.11.(3) was achieved.

  1. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted that Sentence 3.3.1.11.(3) of the OBC clearly allows the door swing exception if the non-swing door is not located in the only means of egress. As he noted, in the case of many of the smaller tenancies, the folding egress doors, as part of the larger movable wall partitions, are the only means of egress. In his view, this clearly does not comply with the Code which, as the Respondent indicated, requires that egress doors swing in the direction of travel.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the moveable wall partitions, asbooth fronts, as the only means of egress provides sufficiency of compliance with 3.3.1.11.(3) of the Building Code on the condition that;

a) the booth fronts do not exceed 5 m in length, and,

b) and the total booth floor area is no greater than 25 m2.

  1. Reasons

1) The area of the booth is small and limited in occupant load.

2) The screens will be closed only during non-business operations.

Dated at Toronto this 14th day in the month of January in the year 1999 for application number 1998-66

Mr. Roy Philippe, Chair

Mr. Ross Thomson

Mr. Larry Glazer