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BCC Ruling No. 99-29-685

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #99-29-685

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Article 3.2.2.1.7. and 3.1.8.12. 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 Ms. Liz Rozenberg, Corporate Director, Facilities, Lakeridge Health Corporation Oshawa, 1 Hospital Court, Oshawa, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Gerald Bilous, Chief Building Official, City of Oshawa, Ontario to determine whether the proposed sprinkler system to be installed throughout the North Infill portion of the subject building compensates for the lack of a rated roof assembly provided for the North Infill area thereby providing sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.2.2.17., and whether the proposed hold-open devices at the eight doors between the North Infill, the North Wing and the Link area comply with Article 3.1.8.12. of the Ontario Building Code at the Lakeridge Health Corporation Oshawa, 1 Hospital Court, Oshawa, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Ms. Liz Rozenberg, Corporate Director, Facilities
Lakeridge Health Corporation Oshawa
1 Hospital Court
Oshawa, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. Gerald Bilous
Chief Building Official
City of Oshawa

PANEL

Mr. Roy Philippe (Chair)
Ms. Michael Steele
Mr. Kenneth Peaker

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

April 29, 1999

DATE OF RULING

April 29, 1999

APPEARANCES

Mr. Leszek Muniak
Larden Muniak Consulting Inc.
Toronto, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Ms. Cveta Prgin
Buildings Engineer
City of Oshawa
The Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Ms. Liz Rozenberg, Corporate Director, Facilities, has applied for a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct several additions to the Lakeridge Health Corporation at 1 Hospital Court, Oshawa, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Lakeridge Health Corporation is an existing, nine storey hospital facility that is equipped with a fire alarm system and a standpipe and hose system, but not a full sprinkler system. (A full sprinkler system will be phased in over several years.) The Applicant is proposing to construct one new wing and two new infill additions onto the subject building. Two of the three additions have disputed areas of construction. These two additions are described below.

The North Infill is an addition intended to fill the space currently existing between the two storey D-Wing to the east, the six storey A-Wing to the south and the nine storey F-Wing to the west. It is proposed as a 1,000 m2 in building area, two storey high open space that is to contain Group A - Division 2 (food court with subsidiary kitchen) assembly and Group E (retail kiosks) mercantile occupancies. The North Infill will be provided with an electronically supervised sprinkler system built in accordance with NFPA 13 and will be separated from the surrounding non-sprinklered floor areas by a one hour fire separation from the adjoining office occupancies and by a two hour fire separation from the B2 occupancies. The floor will have a minimum fire-resistance rating of two hours, the roof, on the other hand, comprised of glass and steel is proposed by the Applicant to be unrated. The existing roofs on the D, A and F wings have a fire-resistance rating of one hour.

The new North Wing, located north of the existing G-Wing and north west of the existing F-Wing, is two storey (plus two levels below grade), L-shaped addition that is to provide further Group B - Division 2 (hospital) care occupancy space to the existing facility. The North Wing will also be fully sprinklered.

In the southerly portion of the eastern most face of this addition is a small area that links the new North Wing to the new North Infill and to an exit stairwell serving all floors of the existing F-Wing, as well as providing an exit to the exterior. This linking area ("the Link") is to become a major pedestrian circulation route for the expanded hospital, including the multi-layered parking facility to the north. In fact, the North Wing has three sets of double doors (one pair swinging east to west and two pairs swinging north to south) that lead into the Link, two double doors connect the North Infill and the Link, a single door leads from the F-Wing exit stairwell into the Link, and a single double provides access from the Link to the exterior. Of these doors, the two north to south double doors leading from the North Wing to the Link and both double doors leading from the North Infill to the Link are to be equipped with hold-open devices. The other doors served by the Link will not have hold-open devices. The Link will be pressurized, sprinklered and will have a one hour fire separation from adjacent occupancies.

  1. Dispute

There are two issues at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent. The first is whether the sprinkler system proposed to be installed throughout the North Infill compensates for the unrated roof assembly proposed for this addition thereby providing sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.2.2.17. of the Ontario Building Code. This provision permits a sprinkler to be installed in lieu of a rated roof assembly provided, among other things, that "the building is sprinklered". If the building in this case is construed to mean the entire hospital structure, which is not fully sprinklered, then the unrated roof may not be allowed. Article 3.2.2.38. which governs the construction of the new additions to the hospital, however, does not specify a rating for the roof assembly.

The second dispute involves the proposed installation of hold-open devices on doors between the North Wing, the North Infill and the Link and whether this complies with Article 3.1.8.12. of the OBC. Article 3.1.8.12. stipulates that hold-open devices can be installed on doors in a fire separation except if the doors are considered as a required exit doors in a building greater than three storeys. Since the two storey North Infill and the two storey North Wing were built without firewalls between the adjoining wings they are considered part of the larger nine storey building. The issue, therefore, revolves around whether the doors leading into the Link from the North Infill, the North Wing and the F-Wing exit stairwell are considered required exit doors.

  1. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Article 3.2.2.17. Sprinklers in Lieu of Roof Rating

(1) The requirements in Articles 3.2.2.20. To 3.2.2.83. For roof assemblies to have a fire-resistance rating are permitted to be waived provided

(a) the building is sprinklered,
(b) the sprinkler system in Clause (a) is electrically supervised in conformance with Sentence 3.2.4.9.(2) and
(c) the operation of the sprinkler system in Clause (a) will cause a signal to be transmitted to the fire department in conformance with Sentence 3.2.4.7.(4).

Article 3.1.8.12. Hold-Open Devices

(2) Except as required by Sentences (3), (5), (6) and (7), a hold-open device permitted by entence (1) shall be designed to release by a signal from (a) an automatic sprinkler system,
(b) a heat-actuated device,
(c) fusible link, or
(d) a smoke detector located as described in Appendix B of NFPA 80, "Standard for Fire Doors and Fire Windows".

(3) Except as required by Sentences (4), (5), (6) and (7), a hold-open device permitted by Sentence (1) shall be designed to release upon a signal from a smoke detector located as described in Appendix B of NFPA 80, "Standard for Fire Doors and Fire Windows", if used on
(a) an exit door,
(b) a door opening into a public corridor,
(c) an egress door referred to in Sentence 3.4.2.4.(2),
(d) a door serving
(i) an assembly occupancy,
(ii) a care or detention occupancy, or
(iii) a residential occupancy, or
(e) a door required to function as part of a smoke control system.

(4) Except as required by Sentence (5), (6) and (7), a hold-open device permitted by Sentence (1) shall be designed to release upon a signal from the building fire alarm system if a fire alarm system is provided, except that this requirement does not apply to
(a) a hold-open device on a door located between a corridor used by the public and an adjacent sleeping room in a hospital or nursing home, or
(b) a hold-open device that is designed to release by a heat-actuated device or a fusible link in conformance with Sentence (2).

(5) Sentences (2) and (3) do not apply in a hospital or nursing home to
(a) a door located between a corridor used by the public and an adjacent sleeping room, or
(b) paired doors described in Sentence 3.3.3.3.(4).

(6) A hold-open device on a door in Clause (5)(a) shall be designed to release the door upon a signal from
(a) a smoke detector as required by Sentence 3.2.4.11.(1) for sleeping rooms in Group B occupancies, and
(b) the fire alarm system when an alert signal is initiated within the same fire compartment in Sentence 3.3.3.5.(2).

(7) A hold-open device on a door in Clause (5)(b) shall be designed to release the door upon a signal from the fire alarm system when an alert signal is initiated within the same fire compartment in Sentence 3.3.3.5.(2).

(8) A rolling steel fire door installed as a closure in a fire separation shall be equipped with a hold-open device designed to release the shutter as described in Sentence (2).

  1. Applicant's Position

Regarding the issue of the unrated roof assembly in the North Infill, the Applicant submitted that proposed electronically supervised sprinkler system built to NFPA 13 standards which covers the entire 1,000 m2 North Infill area provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.2.2.17. of the OBC. He argued that the sprinkler system comprises part of a complete package of protection including suppression and compartmentation which has been provided for the North Infill. As he noted, not only is the North Infill separated from the adjoining occupancies by one and in some cases two hour fire separations, but all connecting spaces have been constructed as pressurized vestibules with one or two hour rated construction. Moreover, the former windows of the F-Wing facing the North Infill have been replaced with wired or tempered glass in metal frames and will be provided with window sprinklers on both sides of the wall. As well, the floors will have a two hour fire-resistance rating.

In conjunction to these compartmentation measures, the roof will be protected by the proposed sprinkler system, which will also serve to protect the space itself, including occupants. In the case of the North Infill, in which the second storey roof level is lower than the surrounding portions of the building, the sprinkler system will also prevent a roof-to-wall fire exposure, the Applicant stated. He noted that a previous BCC decision upheld this argument. The Applicant also argued that sprinkler systems in general have an excellent record of protecting life and property. Moreover, he indicated that it is a well accepted principal in the OBC that certain fire-resistance ratings can be waived if a compensating sprinkler system is installed. As he noted Article 3.2.2.17., "Sprinklers in Lieu of Roof Rating", allows exactly this trade off if the various conditions found in that provision are met.

The Applicant argued that they meet all the conditions of Article 3.2.2.17., except for Clause (1)(a) which deals specifically with requiring the entire building to be sprinklered. Nevertheless, he contended that all of the above measures combined mean that the North Infill would be more than adequately protected. This holds true, the Applicant argued, if a fire were to originate from inside the North Infill or elsewhere in the hospital because the separations would offer protection in both directions. The intent of the Code, he explained, was to require either a one hour fire-resistance rating or sprinkler system for roof assemblies. This building proposes to use both protection measures in different areas to provide complete protection. In their view, sprinkler protection throughout the entire building is not the only way to meet the intended safety requirements of the Code. To support his position, the Applicant noted that Article 3.2.2.38. does not even specify a rating for roof assemblies, but it does require that the new addition be fully sprinklered. Essentially, he argued that this allows flexibility to use either protection method to achieve roof assembly safety.

On the issue of the hold-open devices, the Applicant acknowledged that the Code does not allow such items on the doors discharging into the Link from the North Infill and the North Wing because they are considered a part of the high-rise component of the hospital and because he believes they are required exit doors. However, he argued that the installation of hold-open devices will ensure that a high level of safety will be maintained. As he pointed out, since the Link area is designed as a high pedestrian traffic zone and with doors that must be constantly opened there will be great temptation to wedge the subject doors open. This would completely defeat the fire separation and pressurization of the Link in the event of a fire. In contrast, hold-open devices, the Applicant stated, would provide the many pedestrian users with the convenience of doors that are nearly always open but would close upon activation of the fire alarm system, thereby maintaining the integrity of the designed fire safety measures.

The Applicant also addressed the egress issue from the F-Wing's exit stairwell which now discharges into the Link before gaining access to the exterior. He noted that there are 13 doors serving the Link, 11 discharge into the Link (in terms of path of exit travel) and two discharge to the exterior. Of the 11 doors, four leading from the North Infill and four leading from the North Wing are proposed to be equipped with hold-open devices. The door from the F-Wing exit stairwell will not have a hold-open device. All eight of the hold-open doors will automatically shut when the fire alarm system is activated, thereby preserving the required fire separation surrounding the exit route and making the Link area an exit lobby in conformance with Article 3.4.4.2., the Applicant argued.

Lastly, the Applicant noted that smoke detectors are proposed inside the Link area adjacent to the eight doors with hold-open devices. Additional smoke detectors will be located on the North Infill and North Wing side of the subject doors. These smoke detectors will be tied into the fire alarm system so that their activation will also cause the hold-open devices to close the doors. In his view, the hold-open devices, by automatically closing in an emergency and by preventing doors wedged open, provide sufficiency of compliance with the life safety intended by the OBC and in fact may be safer.

  1. Respondent's Position

Concerning the unrated North Infill roof assembly, the Respondent submitted that her interpretation of Article 3.2.2.17. of the Code is that it allows the required roof rating to be substituted with sprinklers on certain conditions described in this provision, including that the building is fully sprinklered. As she noted, the remainder of the existing nine storey building is not sprinklered, meaning that the condition set out in Clause 3.2.2.17.(1)(a) is not met. As a result, she argued that the roof assembly of the North Infill was required to be fire rated.

The Respondent argued that the Code was clear regarding the issue of the proposed hold-open devices. Again, she indicated that the North Infill, although only two storeys itself, was considered as part of the overall nine storey hospital building as is the North Wing. She also noted that doors leading from the North Infill and North Wing to the Link were, in her opinion, considered required exit doors. These factors, she argued, meant that the hold-open devices on the four North Infill-to-Link doors and the four North Wing-to-Link do not comply with Sentence 3.1.8.12.(1) and were therefore not permitted.

She also expressed concern about the F-Wing exit stair exiting through the Link that has many doors discharging into it, most of which are equipped with hold-open devices. In her view, this compromises the safety the occupants of the F-Wing and their ability to exit safely in an emergency situation.

For these reasons, the Respondent indicated that the unrated roof assembly in the North Infill area and the hold-open devices proposed for the subject doors do not provide sufficiency of compliance with Articles 3.2.2.17. and 3.1.8.12. respectively of the OBC.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposed additions to the Lakeridge Health Corporation Oshawa provides sufficiency of compliance with Articles 3.2.2.17 and 3.1.8.12 of the Ontario Building Code.

  1. Reasons

i) Articles 2.1.1.7. and 11.3.2.1. of the Building Code indicate that the requirements of 3.2.2.38. apply only to the new North Infill and the new North Wing additions. The sprinklering of these portions of the building permit the roof assemblies in these areas to be unprotected.

ii) The use of magnetic hold-open devices on the main floor link locations between the new North Infill and new North Wing are permitted as it has been determined that these are access to exits from the floor area.

iii) In addition, the Link as an interconnecting vestibule is sprinklered, and pressurized to limit smoke movement in the event of fire.

iv) The installation of smoke detectors on either side of the access to exit doors at the Link area from the adjacent floor areas add to the level of safety by closing in event of detection of smoke.

Dated at Toronto this 29th day in the month of April in the year 1999 for application number 1999-29

Mr. Roy Philippe, Chair

Mr. Michael Steele

Mr. Kenneth Peaker