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BCC Ruling No. 99-40-696

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #99-40-696

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentences 6.2.3.10.(5) and 3.3.3.3.(4) 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. Ed Applebaum, Principal, Montgomery Sisam Associates Inc., Toronto, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Steve Franklin, Deputy Chief Building Official, City of Toronto, to determine whether the proposed residential-type ventilation system in the subject B 3 occupancy complies with Sentence 6.2.3.10.(5) of the Ontario Building Code (OBC) and whether the proposed 825 mm (2 ft 8 in) width of corridor doors intended for ambulatory users complies with Sentence 3.3.3.3.(4) of the OBC at the Lafontaine Living Centre, 710 Warden Avenue, Toronto, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Mr. Ed Applebaum, Principal
Montgomery Sisam Associates Inc.
Toronto, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. Steve Franklin
Deputy Chief Building Official
City of Toronto

PANEL

Mr. Kenneth Peaker, (Chair-Designate)
Mr. James Lischkoff
Mr. Fred Barkhouse

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

June 3, 1999

DATE OF RULING

June 3, 1999

APPEARANCES

Mr. Jonathan Rubes, Principal
Leber/Rubes Inc.
Toronto, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Art Jammer
Architectural Plan Examiner
City of Toronto
Designate for the Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Ed Applebaum, Principal, Montgomery Sisam Associates Inc., Toronto, Ontario, has applied for a building permit under

the Building Code Act, 1992

to construct a senior's residence known as the Lafontaine Living Centre at 710 Warden Avenue in Toronto, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant proposes to construct a new eight storey high-rise senior's residence with a building area of 2,500 m2. The structure has been classified as having a Group B, Division 3 - (senior's residential facility) care occupancy. The building will be equipped with fire alarm, standpipe and hose and sprinkler systems and will be of noncombustible construction.

Floors two through eight will contain 27 units each, most of which will be one bedroom suites. All units will be equipped with a kitchenette, livingroom and full bathroom. No nursing stations will be located on these floors. Floors above grade are served by exits stairs at each end of the corridor and a central exit stair. Residents are required to be ambulatory and to provide most of their own care. While each suite will have cooking facilities, the building is to be equipped with dining areas on the ground floor as well. This level will also contain other common areas such as the lounges and special purpose rooms.

There are two areas of construction in dispute. The first is the proposed corridor-based supply system as a means of providing make-up air to the individual residential units. The system proposed by the Applicant is the typical method for supplying air in a residential building in which a pressurized corridor forces certain amounts of air under suite entrance doors, which then provides the make-up air for toilet and kitchen exhaust systems. He is not proposing a make-up air supply system normally found in certain institutional uses.

The second area of construction in dispute are certain paired swing doors, of which one set each is intended for the residential floors and is proposed to be located near the centre of each corridor. Each individual door within a pair are approximately 825 mm (2 ft 8 in) in width. The doors will be hinged near the corridor wall and will not have a centre mullion. With both doors open a clear width of 1,650 mm (5 ft 4 in) is provided. The corridors where the subject paired doors are to be installed are roughly 1.8 m (6 ft) across. The installation of the paired doors will create zones on each floor area. The doors will normally be held open but will release when the fire alarm is activated. In the subject building such zones and doors are not required by Code.

  1. Dispute

There are two issues at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent. The first is whether the proposed residential-type ventilation system in the subject B3 occupancy complies with Sentence 6.2.3.10.(5) of the Ontario Building Code. This provision permits that a residential occupancy may be supplied with make-up air from a public corridor by pressurizing the corridor. At issue is whether the subject suites can be considered as a residential occupancy and therefore be supplied with this type of ventilation system. While the building has an obvious residential aspect within its function, it has been classified under the OBC as a B3 occupancy. B3 occupancies, as care facilities, are not classified as residential occupancies.

The second dispute is whether the proposed corridor doors, intended for use by ambulatory persons, complies with Sentence 3.3.3.3.(4) of the OBC. This sentence requires that paired doors in a corridor that serves residents or patients be at least 1,100 mm (3 ft 7 in) in width. The Applicant's proposed doors are only 825 mm (2 ft 8 in) in individual width.

  1. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Sentence 6.2.3.10.(5) Interconnection of Systems

(5) Infiltration due to corridor pressurization is permitted into a residential occupancy from a public corridor.

Sentence 3.3.3.3.(4) Corridors

(4) Paired doors in a corridor serving patients or residents shall

(a) swing in opposite directions, the right hand door swinging in the direction of travel, and
(b) be not less than 1 100 mm (3 ft 7 in) wide.

  1. Applicant's Position

At the outset the Applicant noted that since the B3 classification is new to the 1997 edition of the OBC the present dispute results from the usual clarification of new Code provisions. In that process of clarifying the B3 classification, he argued that the subject building is more similar to a Group C occupancy than an institutional building. Unlike a Group C occupancy, however, this building will be equipped with a sprinkler system. Regarding both issues at dispute, ventilation and corridor door width, the Applicant submitted that, in his interpretation, they meet Code but he also argued that the proposed design of each provides sufficiency of compliance with the level of safety required by the OBC. He indicated that for both issues he would present arguments concerning interpretation and sufficiency of compliance for the disputed OBC provisions.

On the issue of ventilation, the Applicant submitted that Sentence 6.2.3.10.(5) allows make-up air from a pressurized corridor to enter a "residential occupancy". Significantly, what it does not say, he argued, is that this type of ventilation system is restricted to only Group C major occupancies. In other words, it can be used with any or all residential occupancies, and the suites in the subject building meet the definition of residential occupancies in the OBC, he asserted.

In fact, the Applicant noted that the definition of a Group B, Division 3 - care occupancy was somewhat problematic for the Lafontaine Living Centre. This is because the definition of a B3 occupancy does not include a dwelling unit. However, as the Applicant pointed out, the individual suites within the building clearly meet the definition of a dwelling unit and, in his view, should be considered as such. In the Applicant's interpretation it was possible to reconcile these definitions by considering the residential floors as having dwelling units and therefore a residential occupancy. By taking this approach, a ventilation system conforming to Sentence 6.2.3.10.(5) should be permitted in the subject building.

In terms of providing sufficiency of compliance of the proposed ventilation system represented a safer design from a fire protection point of view than a standard institutional system in which ducts equipped with dampers supplying make-up air would be required in each suite as well as in the corridor. Recognizing that the suites are the most likely location for a fire to occur, the drawback of this system, the Applicant argued, is that if the balancing of pressure between the suites and the corridor was not maintained, or done correctly, nor operated appropriately in a fire, then smoke could possibly enter the duct system from the suite where the fire originated. Once smoke had contaminated this type of ventilation system it could possibly travel from suite to suite. This scenario would be less likely in his proposed ventilation system since the smoke would have no duct in the suite to penetrate and would have to fill the unit entirely before it could possibly leak out underneath an entrance door and then contaminate the corridor and other suites.

Regarding the proposed corridor swing doors, the Applicant noted that they were not required by Code in either a Group C or B3 occupancy. They were being provided because the building owner felt that creating zones on each residential floor was a safer and more practical approach. The Applicant stated that it was his interpretation of 3.3.3.3.(4) that it applied only to cases where the residents were not, or may not, be ambulatory. He conceded that unfortunately the Sentence does not explicitly state this, nevertheless a close examination of the Code does bear out his position, he argued. He noted that Article 3.3.3.4. required that doorways serving "patients or residents" must be 1,050 mm (3 ft 5 in) except as permitted in Sentence 3.3.1.12.(11). This Sentence, specifically Clause (e), allows corridor doors in a B3 occupancy to be 800 mm (2 ft 7 in). This clearly indicates, asserted the Applicant, that it is not the intent of the Code to require 1,100 mm (3 ft 7 in) wide doors to serve ambulatory residents.

Lastly, the Applicant argued that the proposed door width provides sufficiency of compliance for numerous reasons. For example, he noted that while the corridor is only required to be 1,125 mm (3 ft 8 in) in width the proposed corridor will be 1.8 m (6 ft). However, even at this latter width the corridor could not accommodate a pair of 1,100 mm (3 ft 7 in) doors. The alternative would be to remove the doors entirely, which he reiterated are not required but have been proposed as an additional safety feature. Wider doors would not make sense in this case, he argued, since the entrance doors to the suites are only 800 mm (2 ft 7 in). Residents have their own furniture and because they are ambulatory they are not moved around in beds, therefore the wider doors to the units and in the corridors are not necessary. Moreover, smaller doors are lighter and as a result easier for the elderly to open, he noted. Because the proposed doors have no centre mullion and a clear opening of 1,650 mm (5 ft 4 in), this would greatly exceed paired doors with a centre mullion which have only 1,050 mm (3 ft 5 in) clear opening. Finally, he indicated that the subject doors also meet the OBC barrier-free standards in terms of required width. For these reasons, the Applicant submitted that the paired swing doors also provide sufficiency of compliance with the OBC.

  1. Respondent's Position

By way of general comments the Respondent offered that in his view, the classification of the subject building as having a B3 occupancy, meant that a certain albeit limited level of care was being provided to the occupants. As a result, the structure should not be considered as having a residential occupancy.

On the first issue, the Respondent submitted that the proposed ventilation system was not permitted in a B3 occupancy. He argued that it is only allowed in a residential occupancy and therefore Sentence 6.2.3.10.(5) does not apply to the proposed care occupancy.

Concerning the issue of the width of the proposed corridor swing doors, the Respondent noted that they are only 825 mm (2 ft 8 in) and not 1,100 mm (3 ft 7 in) as is required, in his view, for a B3 occupancy under Sentence 3.3.3.3.(4).

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposed residential type ventilation system in the subject B3 occupancy provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 6.2.3.10.(5) of the Ontario Building Code and it is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposed 810 mm width of corridor doors intended for ambulatory users provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.3.3.3.(4) of the Ontario Building Code at the Lafontaine Living Centre, 710 Warden Avenue, Toronto, Ontario.

  1. Reasons

i) The Building Code Commission is of the opinion that a Group B3 occupancy can include a Group C residential occupancy as defined by the code, provided they meet all of the life safety requirements of a Group B3.

ii) The residents are ambulatory therefore Sentence 3.3.3.3.(4) is not applicable.

Dated at Toronto this 3rd day in the month of June in the year 1999 for application number 1999-32

Mr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair-Designate

Mr. James Lischkoff

Mr. Fred Barkhouse