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BCC Ruling No. 99-50-706

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #99-50-706

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Article 3.4.2.1. 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. Martin Kimble, General Manager, Carriage Hills Resort 2 Corp., Barrie, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Ronald M. Kolbe, Director of Building and Planning Development, Township of Oro-Medonte, Ontario to determine whether the proposed fire alarm system for the entire building, offered in lieu of a required second exit from certain second storey units, provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.4.2.1. of the Ontario Building Code at the Carriage Hills Resort, Phase II, Township of Oro-Medonte, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Mr. Martin Kimble, General Manager
Carriage Hills Resort 2 Corp.
Barrie, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. Ronald M. Kolbe
Director of Building and Planning Development
Township of Oro-Medonte

PANEL

Mr. Kenneth Peaker (Chair-Designate)
Mr. Robert De Berardis
Mr. Stewart Smith

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

August 5, 1999

DATE OF RULING

August 5, 1999

APPEARANCES

Mr. David Hastings, Associate Director
Beinhaker/Irwin Associates
Toronto, Ontario
The Applicant

Mr. Ronald M. Kolbe, Director of Building
and Planning Development
Township of Oro-Medonte
For the Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Martin Kimble, General Manager, Carriage Hills Resort 2 Corp., has received a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct two identical three storey residential (time-share) condominiums known as Phase II at the Carriage Hills Resort, Oro-Medonte Township, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant is currently constructing two, three storey Group C - (residential) condominium buildings, each with a building area of 1,313.6 m2. Both buildings are to be constructed of combustible construction and will be equipped with a fire alarm system, but not a sprinkler system. Each building (known as buildings D and E) will house a total of 26 units, with the ground and second floors containing 10 units each and the third floors 6 units a piece. The six third storey units are located in the middle of the linear buildings, leaving both ends of the buildings at two storeys in building height. All condominium units are one storey.

The proposed buildings are the second phase of development of condominiums at the Carriage Hills Resort. The first phase consisted of buildings A, B and C which are two storeys in building height and contain a total of 52 units (16 in both buildings A and B and 20 in building C). This phase was constructed in 1997.

The construction in dispute involves the egress provisions from the two second storey units to be located at the extreme ends of both buildings where the structures are only two storeys in building height. (Of the 52 total units proposed therefore, the egress of only eight [four per building] are in dispute.) For all upper storey units in both buildings the main egress will be provided by means of exterior landings/corridors shared between two units and open exit stairs leading to grade level. As well, for the third storey units and the second floor units directly below them a secondary shared exit facility similar to that provided at the front of the building is to be provided at the rear of the units. However, the four pairs of second storey units located at the ends of both buildings are not provided with a secondary and independent egress route. Instead, they are only provided with a rear balcony.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the proposed fire alarm system, as an early warning device to be installed throughout the entire building, offered in lieu of a required second exit from the subject eight second storey units, provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.4.2.1. of the Ontario Building Code. This provision, with certain exceptions, requires that two exits are provided for every floor area intended for occupancy. The proposed structure does not qualify for any of the exceptions contained in Article 3.4.2.1.

  1. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Article 3.4.2.1. Minimum Number of Exits

(1) Except as permitted by Sentences (2) to (4) and (6), every floor area intended for occupancy shall be served by at least 2 exits.

(2) A floor area in a building not more than 2 storeys in building height, is permitted to be served by one exit provided the total occupant load served by the exit is not more than 60, and

(a) in a floor area that is not sprinklered, the floor area and the travel distance are not more than the values in Table 3.4.2.1.A., or
(b) in a floor area that is sprinklered, (i) the travel distance is not more than 25 m (82 ft), and
(ii) the floor area is not more than the value in Table 3.4.2.1.B.

(3) Except as permitted by Sentence (4), if Sentence (2) permits a single exit from a floor area classified as Group B or Group C occupancy, the exit shall be an exterior doorway not more than 1500 mm (4 ft 11 in) above adjacent ground level.

(4) A floor area containing only dwelling units having access to exit conforming to Sentences 3.3.4.4.(1) to (4) need not comply with Sentences (1) and (3).

(5) Exits are not required directly from rooftop enclosures that are provided with access to exits in conformance with Sentences 3.3.1.3.(5) and (6).

(6) Every room containing an assembly occupancy serving a hotel, and located in the building containing the hotel, shall be provided with not less than

(a) 3 separate egress doorways from the room where the occupant load is more than 600 persons, and
(b) 4 separate egress doorways from the room where the occupant load is more than 1000 persons.

(7) Each egress doorway in Sentence (6) shall be considered as contributing not more than

(a) one third of the required width where 3 egress doorways are required, and
(b) one fourth of the required width where 4 egress doorways are required.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant at the outset conceded that secondary, independent exits are required for the subject eight units. Further, he also supported the position of the Housing Development and Buildings Branch that, in general, a passive life safety system such as an exit is preferable to an active system such as a fire alarm. Nevertheless, he indicated that it was not his intention to dispute the requirements of Article 3.2.4.1., instead he argued that the proposed fire alarm system could be viewed as a compensating measure that achieves sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.4.2.1. To support this position, he noted that the first phase of the project was allowed to install a fire alarm system as a compensating measure for the lack of an additional and independent second storey exit. He added that a fire alarm system could be viewed as an alternative compliance measure similar to those found in Part 11 of the OBC.

  1. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted that the proposed single exit second storey units do not comply with Article 3.4.2.1. of the Code. He argued that the principle of a second exit is a clear requirement found not only in this provision but throughout the OBC except under very limited circumstances. In his view, the proposed fire alarm system does not offer enough compensating safety to provide sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.4.2.1. As he noted, fire alarm systems do not address egress requirements and should not be seen as an appropriate mitigating measure. Safety systems that are passive, such as exits, are preferred to active systems such as fire alarms, he argued. This is because a passive system can be relied upon to perform its function in an emergency more so than an active system that may break down or fail.

Moreover, the Respondent rejected the Applicant's argument that the fire alarm system would be a compensating measure above the minimum required Code standards. In fact, he asserted that a fire alarm system would be necessary for the subject building according to the OBC Subsection 3.2.4. As a result, if required, the fire alarm system cannot be offered in lieu of another requirement.

Lastly, the Respondent also turned away the Applicant's proposal that the fire alarm system could be viewed as an alternative measure under Section 11.5. of the Code because, as new construction, none of Part 11 would apply to the subject building. As he pointed out, Part 11 only applies to renovation of existing buildings at least 5 years old.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposed fire alarm system for the entire building, offered in lieu of a required second exit from certain second storey units, does not provide sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.4.2.1. of the Ontario Building Code at the Carriage Hills Resort Phase II, Township of Oro-Medonte, Ontario.

  1. Reasons

i) Part 11 of the Code is not applicable since we are dealing with new construction;

ii) Two exits are required as per 3.4.2.1.; and,

iii) No compensating measures that were deemed to be adequate to provide sufficiency of compliance were offered.

Dated at Toronto this 5th day in the month of August in the year 1999 for application number 1999-41

Mr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair-Designate

Mr. Robert De Berardis

Mr. Stewart Smith