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BCC Ruling No. 99-05-661

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #99-05-661

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Article 3.1.8.13. of Regulation 61, as amended by O. Reg. 400/91, 158/93, 160/93, 383/94, 20/95 and 395/96 (the "Ontario Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. Satya Saha, Project Manager, C.I.B.C. Development Corporation, Commerce Court West, 18th Floor, Toronto, Ontario for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Agris Robeznieks, Chief Building Official, City of Mississauga, Ontario to determine whether the entrance doors, as installed, provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.1.8.13. of the Ontario Building Code at 1 City Centre Drive, Unit 105, Mississauga, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Mr. Satya Saha, Project Manager
C.I.B.C. Development Corporation
Toronto, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. Agris Robeznieks

Chief Building Official
City of Mississauga

PANEL

Mr. Ross Thomson, Chair-Designate
Mr. Douglas Clancey
Mr. Michael Steele

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

January 27, 1999

DATE OF RULING

January 27, 1999

APPEARANCES

Mr. Mark Langridge, Architect
Roger Du Toit Architects
Toronto, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Frank Spagnolo
Manager, Plans Examination
City of Mississauga

For the Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Satya Saha, Project Manager, C.I.B.C. Development Corporation has received an order to comply under the Building Code Act, 1992 to remedy two doors at 1 City Centre Drive, Unit 105, Mississauga, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant recently renovated a ground floor C.I.B.C. branch tenancy located within a

17 storey building, classified as having a Group D - business occupancy. The structure has a building area of approximately 2,045 m2 (22,000 ft2). The building is of noncombustible construction and is equipped with sprinkler, standpipe and hose, and fire alarm systems.

Part of the renovation included making the two main entry doors at the C.I.B.C. tenancy barrier-free for disabled access. This involved replacing the existing sets of doors (both swing doors within a set were 710 mm (28 in) wide) with a new 915 mm (36 in) glazed entry swing door with a 505 mm (20 in) wide hinged side light. The previous door configuration, with individual doors only 710 mm wide, meant that barrier-free access was not possible. The new design has a 915 mm wide door and a push-plate activated opening device, thus making disabled access possible.

Public access to the bank is from the building's ground floor lobby through the two main entry doors. The bank has a third exit, but it accessible only by bank staff. One of the exit stairs for the office tower above the bank branch does not exit directly to the exterior of the building. Instead, the subject exit stairs exit through the bank and then through the lobby of the building to the exterior. There are six exits to the exterior from the lobby.

The hardware for the subject main entry doors is the Kawneer Dor-o-matic 1990 Concealed Rod exit device. It contains a latching rod mechanism contained in the door stile, which inserts into the door threshold and the transom/header. This latching mechanism is de-activated during banking hours to allow the barrier-free access push-plates to operate. The door returns automatically to a closed position after each use.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the entrance new doors, as installed, provide sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.1.8.3. of the Ontario Building Code. Article 3.1.8.3. requires all swing-type doors, with certain exceptions, in a fire separation to be equipped with a positive latching mechanism that holds a door when shut in a closed position. While the two main entry doors contain positive latching mechanisms to maintain a closed position after opening, these doors are operated by the Applicant in such a manner that the devices are de-activated during business hours.

  1. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Article 3.1.8.13. Door Latches

(1) Except as permitted by Article 3.3.3.5., a swing-type door in a fire separation shall be equipped with a positive latching mechanism designed to hold the door in the closed position after each use.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the newly installed doors, including the latching mechanism, provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.1.8.13. He argued, the subject doors do indeed have a positive latching mechanism as required by the Code, however, the doors are operated in such a way that the latching device is not employed during certain times. As he indicated, the rationale for using the doors in this fashion was to improve the barrier-free accessibility. This, after all, was the main reason why the original doors were replaced. By not having the latching pin engaged during business hours, this allows the push-plates located both inside and outside of the bank to open the doors when entering and leaving the bank.

The Applicant also noted other features of the door hardware which were recently added to improve accessibility. None of these features are in dispute.

The Applicant indicated that the subject doors are equipped with a self-closing devices. The doors and side light panels, he also noted, have been fitted with full height tamper proof astragal plate which provides a cover for the air gap between the two leaves, thus providing a better seal and therefore maintaining the fire separation.

With respect to the fire separation aspect of this dispute, the Applicant acknowledged that in the event of a fire the opening and closing of the subject two main exit doors in the bank branch could be viewed by some as providing a weak point in the fire separation. Nevertheless, citing OBC Appendix A-3.1.8.1.(1)(b) Barrier to Control Smoke Spread, he argued that the intent of the Code with respect to fire separations, including the one in which the two entry doors are located, is to control the spread of smoke until the sprinkler system activates. If the pressure differential caused by smoke and heat is large enough to push open these doors, in his view, the sprinkler system would have activated by then. In turn, the actuation of the sprinkler system would begin to bring the fire under control thereby reducing the pressure differential and making the holding function of the latching mechanism less critical.

In an effort to make the doors more resistant to a build up of pressure differential in a fire situation, the Applicant offered to increase the tension on the door closing device.

Lastly, the Applicant noted that the Respondent did not object to the subject doors on the original permit application. He indicated that it was only brought to his attention six months after installation had occurred.

  1. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted that although the doors may have positive latching mechanism, since that device is not engaged during business hours, the operation of these doors does not comply with the Code, specifically Article 3.1.18.3. By using the doors in such a manner, the Applicant, they argued, is allowing the fire separation to be penetrated. The Respondent expressed concern that because one of the main exit stairs of the 16 storey building above leads into the bank, and relies upon the subject doors for exit into the lobby, this would mean that the lobby and the adjacent occupancies would not be provided with an appropriate fire separation. In their view, the doors' latching mechanism should be engaged at all times.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the door installations in question do not comply with Article 3.1.8.13.

  1. Reasons

i) The latching mechanisms are disengaged during business hours.

ii) There was no empirical evidence presented to show that the existing automatic closing devices would maintain the integrity of the smoke/fire separation during a fire emergency.

Dated at Toronto this 27th day in the month of January in the year 1999 for application number 1998-64

Mr. Ross Thomson, Chair-Designate

Mr. Douglas Clancey

Mr. Michael Steele