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BCC Ruling No. 99-46-702

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #99-46-702

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Article 3.3.2.13. 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. Joe Amorim, J.M.C. Amorim Foods Inc., Hamilton, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Dan Mousseau, Chief Building Official, City of Burlington, Ontario to determine whether the raised dining platform, as constructed, should be required to conform with Sentences 3.3.2.13.(1) and 3.4.6.4.(7) of the Ontario Building Code at the Swiss Chalet Restaurant, 1220 Brant Street, Burlington, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Mr. Joe Amorim
J.M.C. Amorim Foods Inc.
Hamilton, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. Dan Mousseau
Chief Building Official
City of Burlington

PANEL

Mr. Kenneth Peaker (Chair-Designate)
Mr. James Lischkoff
Mr. Donald Pratt

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

July 8, 1999

DATE OF RULING

July 8, 1999

APPEARANCES

Mr. Randy Brown
Randal Brown and Associates Ltd.
Toronto, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Joe Wintar
Manager of Permit and Zoning Administration
City of Burlington
For the Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Joe Amorim, J.M.C. Amorim Foods Inc., has received a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct a new Swiss Chalet restaurant at 1220 Brant Street, Burlington, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant has recently constructed a single storey, 553.5 m2 (in building area), Group A, Division 2 occupancy to be used as a 232 seat restaurant. The building is of combustible construction and is equipped with a fire alarm system.

The construction in dispute involves a raised platform located in the centre of the dining area. There are eight booths (four with four seats and four with two seats each) on the subject raised dining platform containing a total of 24 seats. Half of the booths face to the outside of the platform while the other half face a 1,092 mm wide passageway running across the width of the platform's interior.

The platform measures 3.33 m by 3.86 m for a total area of 12.85 m2. It is raised by the height of one step, specifically 170 mm. Directly under the oak nosing of the raised platform is a 10 mm in diameter lighting string. At each end of the platform's access passageway 237 mm long handrails are provided. The handrails are fastened to the low perimeter wall of the platform that forms the backing of the end booths. The lowest portion of the handrails are mounted 900 mm from the top of the platform and are set at a 45 degree angle from a horizontal plane.

For the patrons using the 12 seats in the four booths facing the outside of the platform it is necessary to step up onto the platform and slide along the bench-type seat. There is no handrail provided to assist them in getting in and out and up and down the 170 mm height of the platform. While the patrons seated in the interior booths have handrails to assist them in ascending and descending the platform, the handrails do not extend 300 mm at the top and bottom of the step.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the as built raised dining platform complies with Sentences 3.3.2.13.(1) and 3.4.6.4.(7) of the Ontario Building Code. Sentence 3.3.2.13.(1) permits such raised platforms as long as it meets certain requirements, including illumination and handrails on each side. The applicant's handrails, however, do not meet all the requirements for handrails that are located in a stair. Sentence 3.4.6.4.(7), for example, stipulates that a 300 mm extension of the handrail is necessary at the top and bottom of the stair. Such an extension is not proposed. Further, the exterior booths are not provided with any handrails.

  1. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Sentence 3.3.2.13.(1) Risers for Stairs

(1) In a Group A, Division 2 occupancy used for the serving of food and beverages, an interior flight of stairs with fewer than 3 risers is permitted provided it

(a) is not less than 900 mm (2 ft 11 in) wide,
(b) is illuminated at all times that occupants are on the premises, and
(c) has a handrail on each side.

Sentence 3.4.6.4.(7) Handrails

(7) At least one handrail at the side of a stairway or ramp shall extend horizontally not less than 300 mm (11 3/4 in) beyond the top and bottom of the stairway or ramp. (See A-3.4.6.4.(5) in Appendix A.)

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the subject platforms are commonly employed as part of the interior design of a restaurant. He indicated that, in his view, the raised dining platform is an architectural element and does not meet the definition of a stair in the OBC. In fact, he argued it should be considered as furniture. As a result, he argued that the disputed provisions of the Code are not relevant since they pertain to stairs or ramps.

Nevertheless, the Applicant did indicate that many of the safety concerns regarding the riser for the interior booths were being addressed. For example, the booth passageway at 1,092 mm in width comfortably exceeds the required 900 mm. The booth is also well lit at all times and has additional lighting on the riser itself. Moreover, a handrail has been provided on both sides of the two "exits" from the platform. The flooring finishes are different between platform and the lower floor making the change in elevation easier to see. Therefore, even if the platform was considered a stair under the OBC it would meet most of the requirements of Sentence 3.3.2.13.(1), the Applicant argued. He indicated that they are also willing to extend the handrail somewhat at the top and bottom of the platform riser by wrapping it around the exterior booth wall, thereby lengthening the handrail and making it more useful and safer. A full 300 mm extension, however, would be a dangerous obstacle in the passageway.

As far as the issue of the exterior booths, the Applicant argued that they should not be considered as a stair. Patrons do not actually step up the riser, in fact they slide into the booth. In doing so they usually use the table and/or the back of the seat as an object to steady themselves. As such, he stated that the requirements of Sentences 3.3.2.13.(1) and 3.4.6.4.(7) were not applicable. Further, the Applicant argued that it was impractical to include some of the required measures in this application.

  1. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted that the subject dining platform should be considered as having a single stair riser. Consequently, the provisions of the OBC relating to stairs apply.

Regarding the step leading to the interior booths, the Respondent acknowledged that the Code, specifically Article 3.3.2.13., allows a single riser stair within a restaurant, but he argued that the handrails must therefore conform to Sentence 3.4.6.4.(7) and be provided with a 300 mm extension at the top and bottom of the stairs. He noted that the Applicant's proposed handrail extension does not meet this requirement. The extension is important, he argued, because it allows the public the opportunity to steady themselves before and after negotiating the stair.

On the issue of the exterior booths, the Respondent indicated that he considers the single riser at this location also a stair. He argued that Sentence 3.4.6.3.(5) of the Code requires every stair to have a landing at the top and bottom. The exterior booth arrangement has no landing area at the top of the stair, he noted.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposed raised dining platform does not fall under the definition of a stair and therefore extensions are not required for the handrail and the raised dining platform need not be required to conform with Sentence 3.3.2.13.(1) of the Ontario Building Code at the Swiss Chalet Restaurant, 1220 Brant Street, Burlington, Ontario.

It is also the decision of the Building Code Commission that the exterior booths do not require handrails nor need to conform to OBC 3.3.2.13. at the Swiss Chalet Restaurant, 1220 Brant Street, Burlington, Ontario.

  1. Reasons

i) Drawing A-102 dated July 6, 1999 and February 15, 1999 indicate that illumination and handrails provide sufficiency of compliance.

ii) The platform is an integral part of the booth and therefore may be considered as a single piece of furniture.

iii) The single step in the exterior booths does not provide access to any other booth or floor areas in the restaurant.

Dated at Toronto this 8th day in the month of July in the year 1999 for application number 1999-33

Mr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair-Designate

Mr. James Lischkoff

Mr. Donald Pratt