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BCC Ruling No. 99-30-686

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #99-30-686

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Article 3.1.5.22. of Regulation 403, as amended by O. Reg. 22/98, 102/98, 122/98, 152/99 and 278/99 (the "Ontario Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. Rob Adamson, Architect, Cohos Evamy Partners, Calgary, Alberta, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Agris Robezneiks, Chief Building Official, City of Mississauga, Ontario to determine whether the proposed vinyl fabric roof on an aluminium frame to serve as a cover for the garden centre provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.1.5.22. of the Ontario Building Code at the Revy Home and Garden, 2933 Eglinton Avenue West, Mississauga, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Mr. Rob Adamson, Architect
Cohos Evamy Partners
Calgary, Alberta

RESPONDENT

Mr. Agris Robeznieks
Chief Building Official
City of Mississauga

PANEL

Mr. Kenneth Peaker (Chair)
Mr. James Lischkoff
Mr. Stuart Smith

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

May 13, 1999

DATE OF RULING

May 13, 1999

APPEARANCES

Mr. Randy Brown, President
Randall Brown and Assoc. Ltd.
Toronto, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Frank Spagnolo, Mgr.
Engineering and Inspection
City of Mississauga
The Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Rob Adamson, Architect, has applied for a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct a building and garden supply retail warehouse outlet known as Revy Home and Garden at 2933 Eglinton Avenue West, Mississauga, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant is proposing to construct a new, single storey, Group E - mercantile (retail warehouse) occupancy, with a building area of 10,417 m2. The building will be of noncombustible construction and will be equipped with an electronically supervised sprinkler system, fire alarm system and standpipe and hose system.

The Applicant is also proposing to construct a 2,252 m2 outdoor garden centre abutting the west exterior wall of the main building. The construction in dispute involves the approximately 613 m2 of the garden centre which is planned as an area (16.8 m by 36.5 m) to be covered by a temporary roof structure to provide weather protection for occupants as well as the horticultural products. The covering material is a clear flexible vinyl fabric called Frosty 3000 manufactured by Vanagard. It conforms to CAN/ULC S109-M87 "Standard for Flame Tests of Flame-Resistant Fabrics and Films". The fabric is supported by an aluminium frame. The frame would be built at a height of 4.87 m adjacent to the building and 3.35 m at the far end above the finished floor. The Applicant is also proposing to install on the aluminium frame just below the fabric a dry-pipe sprinkler system equipped with close spaced (10 by 10 ft), 165 degree quick response sprinkler heads.

The exterior wall of the store is composed of metal panels insulated with noncombustible mineral wool mounted on top of concrete block to a datum of 8 ft A.F.F. There is 8 ft of metal clad siding with no fire resistance rating above the block that is exposed to the covered area. There are several windows and doors between the building and garden centre. The garden centre is open on the three sides which do not abut the building. Required exiting from the store does not pass through the garden centre.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the proposed vinyl fabric roof on an aluminium frame to serve as a cover for the garden centre at the Revy Home and Garden warehouse store provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.1.5.22. of the Ontario Building Code. Specifically, at issue is whether the covered area of the garden centre, at approximately six per cent of the size of the entire building, can be considered as a canopy. If it is deemed not to be a canopy then the exemption provided for combustible canopies attached to noncombustible buildings found in Sentence 3.1.5.22.(1) may not apply to the Revy Home and Garden, thus making the noncombustible requirements of 3.2.2.57. applicable. If not considered a canopy, the Applicant is offering sprinkler protection as a compensating measure to achieve sufficiency of compliance.

If the covering is considered as a tent as per Subsection 3.13.1. then many Code requirements do not apply (although the fabric must still meet the CAN/ULC S-109-M87 standard). As a trade off, however, the Code requires that tents must maintain a spatial separation of 3 m from any building, which is not provided between the covered area and the subject building.

  1. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Article 3.1.5.22. Canopies Having Combustible Elements

(1) Exterior canopies having combustible fabrics or films are permitted on a building required to be of noncombustible construction provided the fabrics and films conform to CAN/ULC-S109-M, "Standard for Flame Tests of Flame-Resistant Fabrics and Films".

(2) Except as permitted in Sentence (3), exterior marquees, not greater than 7.5 m (24 ft 7 in) from ground level to the top of the marquee, having combustible elements other than fabrics or films conforming to Sentence (1), are permitted on a building required to be of noncombustible construction, provided every opening in the exposed wall of the building above the marquee is protected with wired glass in accordance with the Supplementary Guidelines where these openings are within

(a) 4.5 m (14 ft 9 in) horizontally of the marquee, and
(b) 9 m (29 ft 6 in) vertically above the marquee

(3) The protection required by Sentence (2) is permitted to be waived if the building is sprinklered.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that even though the covered area is certainly large it can still be considered as a canopy with an occupancy beneath it. As he indicated, there are no maximum dimensions or areas set out in the Code for canopies. As a result, he argued that the exemption for combustible canopies found in Sentence 3.1.5.22.(1) would apply to the subject building. This exemption, he noted, applies to fabrics that meet the CAN/ULC S109-M87 standard, which is the case with the intended fabric. As a canopy with an occupancy below it, NFPA 13 sprinkler protection would be required. Since he is proposing a sprinkler system, it is his view that, as a canopy it would meet the life safety standards intended in Sentence 3.1.5.22.(1).

Alternatively, if considered as a tent, the Applicant argued that the proposed covering would also meet the safety standards found in Subsection 3.13.1. As he noted, a sprinkler system is not required for a tent, therefore, in his opinion, it would be a suitable compensating measure for the 3 m set back required under Sentence 3.13.1.4.(2).

The Applicant then argued that regardless of what the covering is considered to be, it will be a safe area. The primary safety feature, he indicated, was the sprinkler system. He noted that the 75 degree, close spaced, sprinkler heads would provide quick actuation in the event of a fire. He indicated that the material to be used does not soften until approximately double the temperature at which the sprinklers activate. This fast response would control any fire that occurred in the garden centre and would offer exposure protection to the windows and doors in the store. The Applicant further noted that the fabric has a flame spread rating of less than 25 and a low smoke development classification.

In terms of exiting from the garden centre, the Applicant recognized that there may some debate about whether 30 or 45 m would be required. Nevertheless, since the covered area is served by two exit doors, one on the south side and the other into the building at the east, the actual travel distance from anywhere in the garden centre is less than 15 m. The Applicant also pointed out that the store, with exits placed every 60 m, does not rely on exiting through the garden centre.

Other safety features include fire department access to the south and west sides of the garden centre. As well, a fire hydrant is located within 445 and 85 m of the south and north ends respectively of the garden centre. Finally, the Applicant noted that the fire alarm system from the store, including manual pull stations and audible devices, would be extended into the garden centre, as would the emergency lighting.

For the above reasons, whether the covered area is considered as a canopy, tent or an addition to the building, the Applicant concluded by arguing that the safety features, especially the sprinkler system, will mean that the subject garden centre covering will meet the intended level of life safety required in the OBC.

  1. Respondent's Position

The Respondent indicated that, in his view, he does not consider the proposed garden centre as a canopy to the main building. He submitted that, at roughly 613 m2, it is properly considered as an addition to the main building. Consequently, he argued that the exception allowed in 3.1.5.22.(1) is not applicable and that the noncombustible requirements of 3.2.2.57. must be met. The proposed fabric, the Respondent felt, as a combustible material does not meet the Ontario Building Code.

Further, the Respondent expressed concern about the metal clad portion of the abutting wall of the building that faces the covered area. He noted that previous BCC rulings relied upon fire separations with at least a 2 hour fire resistance rating. This level of separation is not present in the subject building.

Lastly, he indicated that he would feel more comfortable if a 3 m separation between the building and the covered area was imposed. In his opinion, this would compensate for the zero fire resistance rating in the higher portion of the abutting wall.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the use of a vinyl fabric roof as a cover for the Garden Centre provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.1.5.22(1) of the Ontario Building Code at the Revy Home and Garden Centre, 2933 Eglinton Avenue West, Mississauga, Ontario provided that the material cover to be used is Vanagard Frosty 3000-14 and that closely spaced sprinklers be installed at the exit to the existing structure.

  1. Reasons

(i) The sprinkler system in the tent subject to an adequate design plus the addition of closely spaced sprinklers at the exit to the existing structure provides sufficiency of compliance.

(ii) The Vanagard Frosty 3000-14 meets the CAN/ULC S109-M87 standard and complies with 3.1.5.22.(1).

Dated at Toronto this 13th day in the month of May in the year 1999 for application number 1999-12

Mr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair

Mr. James Lischkoff

Mr. Stewart Smith