Skip to content
You are here > Home > Your Ministry > Ontario Building Code > Appeals & Approvals > Building Code Commission > Rulings of the Building Code Commission > 1999 > BCC Ruling No. 99-12-668

Follow us

BCC Ruling No. 99-12-668

Email this page

BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #99-12-668

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentences 9.9.9.1.(2) 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. Jim Hallman, Aberdeen Homes, 42 Chartwell Court, Kitchener, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Tony Krimmer, Chief Building Official, City of Waterloo, Ontario to determine whether the proposed sprinkler system installed throughout the three storey town homes compensates for the increase in travel distance to an exit door, thereby providing sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 9.9.9.1.(2) of the Ontario Building Code at the Aberdeen Homes - "Catalina" Town House Project, Caroline Street, Waterloo, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Mr. Jim Hallman
Aberdeen Homes
Kitchener, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. Tony Krimmer
Chief Building Official
City of Waterloo

PANEL

Mr. Roy Philippe (Chair)
Mr. Kenneth Peaker
Mr. Robert De Berardis

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

February 24th, 1999

DATE OF RULING

February 24th, 1999

APPEARANCES

Mr. James Fryett, Principal
James Fryett Architect
Elora, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Tony Krimmer
Chief Building Official
City of Waterloo
The Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Jim Hallman, Aberdeen Homes, 42 Chartwell Court, Kitchener, Ontario, has applied for a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct low-rise residential condominiums, known as the "Catalina" townhouse project, on Caroline Street, in Waterloo, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant proposes to construct a group of three storey residential condominium buildings. Each building will contain a block of units. While the buildings have a total area of greater than 600 m2 , the individual units all have a building area less than 600 m2. The buildings will be of combustible construction. The units will be equipped with a hard-wired, interconnected smoke alarm system.

In certain units, as part of the proposed construction, the Applicant intends to provide a window on the loft level, or third storey, as an alternate means of egress. The purpose of this is so that occupants on the third storey would not have to travel more than one storey to reach an exit. The subject windows would be designed in accordance with OBC Sentence 9.9.9.1.(2). Specifically, they would have an openable area of at least 1 000 mm (3 ft 3in) in height and 550 mm (21 5/8 in) in width. The windows, designed as dormers, would lead to a gradually sloped (12:1) roof area that is to extend 1 125 mm (3 ft 8 in) from the window. This roof area would be 7 m above grade.

The Applicant is also proposing to sprinkler the stairway in the same units in which the third storey egress window is being provided. The sprinkler heads would be installed on the second and third storeys, but not on the ground nor basement levels.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the proposed sprinkler system compensates for the perceived increase in travel distance and thereby provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 9.9.9.1. of the Ontario Building Code. This provision requires that dwelling units with more than one storey must have exit doors positioned in such a way that so that it is not necessary to travel up or down more than one storey to reach a level served by an exit. Sentences (2) and (3) of this Article provide exceptions that, when complied with, allow the exit route to travel more than one storey. Specifically, Sentence (2) permits an increase in the travel distance if an openable window of a certain size is provided, while Sentence (3) allows the same if a balcony is provided.

  1. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Article 9.9.9.1. Travel Limit to Exits or Egress Doors

(1)Except as provided in Sentences (2) and (3), every dwelling unit containing more than 1 storey shall have exits or egress doors located so that it shall not be necessary to travel up or down more than 1 storey to reach a level served by

(a)an egress door to a public corridor, enclosed exit stair or exterior passageway, or

(b) an exit doorway not more than 1 500 mm (4 ft 11 in) above adjacent ground level.

(2) Where a dwelling unit is not located above or below another suite, the travel limit from a floor level in the dwelling unit to an exit or egress door is permitted to exceed 1 storey where the floor level is served by an openable window or door.

(a) providing an unobstructed opening of not less than 1 000 mm (3 ft 3 in) in height and 550 mm (21 5/8 in) in width, and

(b) located so that the sill is not more than

i)1 000 mm (3 ft 3 in) above the floor, and

ii)7 m (23 ft) above adjacent ground level.

(3)The travel limit from a floor level in a dwelling unit to an exit or egress door is permitted to exceed 1 storey where that floor level has direct access to a balcony.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted the proposed installation of a sprinkler heads would provide sufficiency of compliance with Article 9.9.9.1. of the OBC. In his view, the sprinkler coverage would adequately compensate for the increase in travel distance from one storey to two. As he argued, due to the open concept design of the stairs, the entire exit path of travel would be covered by sprinkler protection.

While the Applicant noted that the third storey openable egress window complied with Sentence 9.9.9.1.(2), he indicated that considering the roof design, it was not practical to meet the balcony requirements of Sentence 9.9.9.1.(3) as well. His proposal does include a relatively flat area on the roof immediately below the egress window where occupants could seek refuge in case of a fire. Nevertheless, this area would not be equipped with a guard and does not constitute a balcony, he conceded. It was for this reason that the sprinkler heads were being provided as a compensating measure in order to provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 9.9.9.1.(3).

  1. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted that the proposed design does not meet the Code requirements found in Article 9.9.9.1. since, in his view, the egress route to an exit door from the loft level would necessitate travelling down two storeys. While he agreed that the proposed openable window satisfied the criteria found in Sentence (2), he noted that a balcony as per Sentence (3) was also required. The Respondent indicated that the subject area of refuge does not comply with Sentence 9.9.9.1.(3) since it is proposed to be located on a sloped area of the second storey roof and that no guard rail has been provided.

The Respondent did, however, indicate that he supported the proposed installation of the sprinkler heads in the exit stair as a compensating measure.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the design of the exit from the loft at the third floor level provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 9.9.9.1.(3) of the Building Code provided that;

1) The building is sprinklered throughout or;

2) (a) The entire building exit to grade level, and the second floor bedroom, below the window perch, are protected by sprinklers; and

(b) Interconnected smoke alarms are provided at all floor levels.

  1. Reasons

It is the opinion of the Commission the sprinklered building or combination of sprinklers to provide exposure protection and early detection provide an acceptable level of safety from fire at the third floor.

Dated at Toronto this 24th day in the month of February in the year 1999 for application number 1999-01

Mr. Roy Philippe, Chair

Mr. Kenneth Peaker

Mr. Robert De Berardis