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BCC Ruling No. 99-60-716

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #99-60-716

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Article 1.1.3.2., Sentence 3.2.1.1.(2), Article 3.2.3.4., Sentence 3.2.8.1.(1) and Sentences 3.2.8.2.(1), (5) and (6) 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. Gary Hauck, Estimating Manager, Ball Construction Inc., Kitchener, Ontario for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Bruce Poole, Chief Building Official, City of Guelph, to determine whether the proposed new arena built adjoining to the existing retail mall as one, albeit expanded, building constructed on two properties complies with Article 3.2.3.4. of the Ontario Building Code (OBC), and if so, whether the proposed design, without the provision of a fire separation with a two hour fire resistance rating complete with closures or special interconnected floor space fire safety measures, provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.2.8.1.(1) of the OBC at the Guelph Sports and Entertainment Centre, Guelph, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Mr. Gary Hauck, Estimating Manager
Ball Construction Inc.
Kitchener, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. Bruce Poole
Chief Building Official
City of Guelph

PANEL

Mr. James Lischkoff (Chair-Designate)
Mr. Stewart Smith
Mr. Robert De Berardis

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

September 23, 1999

DATE OF RULING

September 23, 1999

APPEARANCES

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

Mr. Bruce Poole
Chief Building Official
City of Guelph
The Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Gary Hauck, Estimating Manager, Ball Construction Inc., Kitchener, Ontario has applied for a building permit under the to renovate an existing retail mall by constructing a new sports arena addition and multi-purpose entertainment facility to become known as the Guelph Sports and Entertainment Centre, Guelph, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant is proposing to construct a new Group A, Division 3 - (5,000 seat sports arena) assembly occupancy to the north of, and adjoining to, an existing Group E - mercantile and Group A, Division 2 - assembly (retail mall) facility that was built in the early 1980s. The combined total of the 6,500 m2 arena addition and the 8,600 m2 of the existing mall will create an aggregate building area of approximately15,100 m2. The completed structure will be constructed of noncombustible construction and will be equipped with a sprinkler system, a two-stage fire alarm system and a standpipe and hose system.

The existing mall is considered a two storey structure containing retail and fast food outlets. The arena is to have three levels. The lowest level will contain the ice surface and, beneath the stands, dressing and training rooms, offices, and storage and mechanical areas. This level will also have a public corridor containing a sports hall of fame that will wrap around the west end of the arena. The middle level of the stadium will be called the main, or concourse, level. This level is to contain an oval-shaped concourse area around the entire perimeter of the arena from which the majority of the seats are to be accessed. Several concession stands, a bar and washrooms will be located off the concourse area. The third level, described as the VIP balcony, is to contain 31 private boxes. The total occupant load for the arena will be approximately 6,000.

The new arena, to house the Ontario Hockey League's Guelph Storm, is to be built on the site of a recently demolished Eaton's Department Store. Currently, the City of Guelph owns the land upon which the existing mall sits and the proposed stadium is to occupy. It is the City's intention, however, to sever the land into two parcels along a discontinuous plane between the mall and the arena in order to allow for separate ownership of the two facilities. The future owners of the arena and mall structures will lease the land from the City.

The arena is to be constructed as an addition to the existing mall, and not as a separate building. There will be no continuous demising wall built on the property line at the various storeys where the structures join. In fact, in terms of its architecture and operation, the arena and mall are to be as integrated as possible. At the interface between the two structures on the lowest level, where the ground floor of the mall is to intersect with the ice level of the arena, the main corridor of the mall will connect to a curved public corridor used as a sports hall of fame. The curved corridor is to be separated from the remainder of the stadium by a 2 hour fire separation and will be used as a principle means of egress from the north end of the lower mall level.

A food court and kitchen are to be located where the two buildings join at the upper level, i.e., where the second floor of the mall will connect with the concourse level of the arena. The food court is to be accessible to arena patrons during an event and will be available to shoppers in the mall during business hours. At the north side of the food court area, between the food court and the arena, a wall will partially separate these spaces. This wall will be comprised mostly of concrete block with a 2 hour rating, as well as sliding tempered glass panels located directly beside the existing stair at the north side of the mall. The wall will also contain several sets of doors, including four doors and a solid-panel folding security grill at the east side of the arena and a pair of swing doors and a set of tempered sliding glass panels at the west side. The sliding glass panels, with an approximate area of 8 m2, are to be manually operated and are to be used as a security barrier to prevent access to the arena when not in use. The panels are to be slid open during an event. Considering the unrated glazed area and the wall penetrations, especially the sliding glass panels, the interface of the structures at this level is not considered as providing a continuous 2 hour rated fire separation.

There is no direct connection between the mall and the VIP balcony found at the 3rd level of the stadium.

The construction in dispute relates to the fact that no firewall is being proposed on the property line that separates the mall and the arena. Further, the Applicant is not intending to construct the arena addition with either a continuous 2 hour vertical fire separation where the mall and the arena intersect including the appropriate closures, nor in accordance with the interconnected floor space requirements as found in Articles 3.2.8.3. to 3.2.8.11. These additional fire safety requirements may be necessary because of the building height of the mall and arena addition, which could be interpreted as being 3 storeys. Such an interpretation is due to the fact that the building, when viewed in section, will have three distinct levels. The VIP balcony at the top level of the arena must be counted as a storey because it exceeds the Building Code's requirements for a balcony. Moreover, part of the area under the seats at the arena's lowest level - usually not considered a storey if incidental to the major occupancy of the building according to Sentence 3.2.1.1.(2) - contains a sports hall of fame, thereby potentially rendering that level as a storey. Thus, if a three storey building, certain additional fire safety measures may be required since the exceptions in terms of providing the interconnected floor space requirements, as per Clause 3.2.8.2.(1)(b) and Sentences 3.2.8.2.(5) and (6), are limited to a building having only a two storey interconnected floor space.

The mall on its own, on the other hand, is described as a two storey structure with an interconnected floor space. However, no additional OBC interconnected floor space fire safety measures were provided in the mall because, as per Sentence 3.2.8.2.(6), these measures were not required in a building having only a two storey interconnected floor space.

  1. Dispute

There are two issues at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent. The first is whether the proposed new arena built adjoining to the existing retail mall as one, albeit expanded, building constructed on two properties complies with Articles 1.1.3.2. and 3.2.3.4. of the Ontario Building Code. The second is whether the building design with respect to the arena addition and the interface between the mall and arena, proposed without the provision of either a continuous 2 hour rated separation with closures to terminate the floor areas, or interconnected floor space fire safety measures, provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.2.8.1.(1) of the OBC.

The first dispute centres on the interpretation of Article 3.2.3.4., which states that "a party wall shall be constructed as a firewall." As described above, the proposed completed structure will straddle two properties and will not be separated by a firewall. At issue, therefore, is whether Article 3.2.3.4. requires a building straddling a property line to be separated by a firewall on that line.

The second dispute is whether the proposed design of the arena and the interface between the mall and the arena offered in lieu of either a 2 hour fire separation with closures between the structures or interconnected floor space fire safety measures achieves the same level of safety intended in the Sentence 3.2.8.1.(1). If the arena is considered a three storey building, then the exceptions to the interconnected floor space requirements found under Article 3.2.8.2. in general, and Sentence 3.2.8.2.(1), (2) and (6) in particular, no longer apply. This would mean that either the floors must terminate at vertical fire separations having a fire rating equal to the separation required in the floors and the openings must be installed with appropriate protective closures, or interconnected floor space fire safety measures must be provided. At issue then is whether the arena should be considered a 3 storey building and whether its design compensates for the lack of 2 hour vertical fire separations with closures, or interconnected floor space fire safety measures.

  1. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Article 1.1.3.2.- Defined Terms

Firewall means a type of fire separation of noncombustible construction which subdivides a building or separates adjoining buildings to resist the spread of fire and which has a fire-resistance rating as prescribed in this Code and has structural stability to remain intact under fire conditions for the required fire-rated time.

Party wall means a wall jointly owned and jointly used by 2 parties under easement agreement or by right in law, and erected at or upon a line separating 2 parcels of land each of which is, or is capable of being, a separate real-estate entity.

Sentence 3.2.1.1.(2) - Exceptions in Determining Building Height

(2) Space under tiers of seats in a building of the arena type shall not be considered as adding to the building height provided the space is used only for dressing rooms, concession stands and similar purposed incidental to the major occupancy of the building.

Article 3.2.3.4. - Party Wall

(1) A party wall shall be constructed as a firewall.

Sentence 3.2.8.1. Application

(1) Except as permitted by Article 3.2.8.2. and Sentence 3.3.4.2.(3), the portions of a floor area or a mezzanine that do not determine at an exterior wall, a firewall or a vertical shaft shall:

(a) terminate at a vertical fire separation having a fire-resistance rating not less than that required for the floor assembly and extending from the floor assembly to the underside of the floor or roof assembly above, or;
(b) be protected in conformance with the requirements of Articles 3.2.8.3. to 3.2.8.11.

Sentences 3.2.8.2.(1),(5) and (6) Exceptions to Special Protection

(1) A mezzanine need not terminate at a vertical fire separation nor be protected in conformance with the requirements of Articles 3.2.8.3. to 3.2.8.11. provided the mezzanine (a) serves a Group A, Division 1 major occupancy,
(b) serves a Group A, Division 3 major occupancy in a building not more than 2 storeys in building height, or
(c) is not considered as a storey in Sentences 3.2.1.1.(3) or 3.2.1.1.(5) in calculating building height provided:

i. every point on the mezzanine is within 25 m (82 ft) of a point or points on the mezzanine perimeter from which, in the aggregate, an occupant may view 60% of the area of the room or storey in which the mezzanine is located, and

ii. the mezzanine does not contain a Group B occupancy,

(d) is not considered a storey in Sentence 3.2.1.1.(4) in calculating building height provided the mezzanine is not more than 500 m2 (5,380 m2) in area and does not contain a Group B occupancy, or;
(e) is not considered a storey in calculating building height in Sentence 3.2.1.1.(8).

(5) Except as permitted by Sentence (6), openings for stairways, escalators and inclined moving walks need not conform to the requirements in Articles 3.2.8.3. to 3.2.3.11. provided;

(a) the opening for each stairway, escalator or walk does not exceed 10 m2 (108 ft2);
(b) the building is sprinklered throughout, and;
(c) the interconnected floor space contains only Group A, Division 1, 2 and 3, Group D or Group E occupancies.

(6) An interconnected floor space need not conform to the requirements of Articles 3.2.8.3. to 3.2.8.11. provided:

(a) the interconnected floor space consists of the first storey and the storey next above or below it, but not both;
(b) the interconnected floor space is sprinklered, and;
(c) the interconnected floor space contains only Group A, Division 1, 2 or 3, Group D, Group E, or Group F, Division 3 occupancies. (See Appendix A.)

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant stated at the outset that there are two separate but related issues in dispute; the firewall and the interconnected floor space requirements. He indicated that he would present arguments of interpretation on the former and sufficiency of compliance on the latter.

On the first issue, the Applicant submitted that Sentence 3.2.3.4.(1) of the OBC does not mandate that a firewall be built on a property line. It merely states, he argued, that if a party wall is constructed, then it should be built as a firewall. The wording in the Code, especially the definition of party wall, does not indicate that a partywall is obligatory where a building straddles a property line. Moreover, this definition contains nothing which could be construed as preventing the owners of a building from erecting a single structure on both properties and managing it jointly. This is exactly their intention in the subject proposal, he noted.

To support this, the Applicant then presented a copy of a draft memorandum of agreement for joint building management of the subject mall and arena. He described how the building would be managed and maintained and how the various safety systems would be operated. As further evidence, the Applicant submitted a previous BCC ruling that permitted a single building to straddle two properties because the parties had committed to "enter into an agreement with respect to the management, maintenance, and the conditions of future sale of either property."

The intent of the OBC, the Applicant argued, is to protect the occupants of a building and to limit property damage. If this has been achieved in a single building sitting on two properties, then the intent of the Code has been realized.

On the interconnected floor space issue, the Applicant argued that the proposed arena facility was not the type of structure to which Articles 3.2.8.3. to 3.2.8.11. were meant to apply. He discussed how these provisions were developed in the mid-1980s and that he was the chairman of the advisory committee that examined them. He presented extracts of minutes of committee meetings to support this position.

The Applicant also indicated that it was possible to view the completed building, including arena, as only a two storey structure. He asserted that the space under the seats, including the sports hall of fame corridor, did not have to be counted as a storey. In his view, a sports hall of fame could be seen as ancillary to the arena's main purpose. The Applicant did acknowledge, nonetheless, that the two levels of the mall and the two levels of the arena did not align with each other.

If the Commission found it difficult, however, to accept the arena and mall as anything less than a three storey structure, then the Applicant stated that it is also possible to demonstrate sufficiency of compliance with the relevant provisions of the OBC. And in terms of sufficiency of compliance, he indicated that if the building is considered three storeys and since they are not proposing to construct a two hour fire separation, complete with closures between the mall and the arena, then the interconnected floor space requirements found in Articles 3.2.8.3. to 3.2.8.11. would be applicable. It was with respect to these provisions that the Applicant stated that he would be arguing sufficiency of compliance.

By way of compensating measures to achieve sufficiency of compliance then, the Applicant stated that a principle factor to be considered was the large volume of space contained in the arena. He argued that in the event of a fire in such a large space, the arena would act as a "smoke sink" and would serve to dilute the smoke until well after the occupants had exited and the fire was under control. Obviously, the smoke dilution activity would most directly reduce the danger of a fire in the arena, but it would also help in the event of a fire in the mall. Nevertheless, in a noncombustible, sprinklered building, and considering the size of the overall structure and the distances smoke would have to travel, it is unlikely that the mall and the arena would pose much danger to each other, he added.

The design of the building with respect to the interface between the mall and arena also provides a compensating measure to the interconnected floor space requirements. As he noted, the ground floor of the mall as it connects to the ice level of the arena at the sports hall of fame corridor is equipped with fire rated doors with closure devices. The corridor itself is separated from the arena by a two hour fire separation. As well, the third level of the arena is not connected to the mall. It is only where the concourse level of the arena joins the second storey of the mall that a penetration occurs. He argued, however, that much of the interface at this level is a two hour separation, with other portions being an unrated glazed separation. The only area not provided with a separation is the sliding glass panel security barrier and at 8 m2, the Applicant described this as relatively minor considering the size of the complex.

Other compensating measures featured in the building include the more than adequate egress facilities and corresponding exit time, especially from the third level of the arena. He indicated that the exit time from this level would be in the order of the 3 to 3.5 minutes. As well, the building will be equipped with a two stage fire alarm system. A fire safety plan will also be developed for the entire building.

For these reasons, the Applicant summarized that the design of the building, especially at the interface between the mall and arena, provides sufficiency of compliance with Articles 3.2.8.3. to 3.2.8.11.

Lastly, the Applicant stated, in response to the Housing Development and Buildings Branch's Technical Background Information report, that it was not necessary to conduct an analysis of the proposed building under the NFPA 92B standard, "Guide for Smoke Management in Malls, Atria, and Large Areas". In his view, this would impose requirements on the building that would be in excess of the OBC. He argued that it makes different assumptions and is usually used for much larger buildings such as the Air Canada Centre and the Corel Centre.

  1. Respondent's Position

On the firewall issue, the Respondent submitted that while the Code does not explicitly state that a firewall constructed as a party wall is required on a property line demarking two parcels of land, he argued that the Code assumes that one is to be built and it is therefore implicitly required. He indicated that a four hour firewall would be necessary and with this level of protection it would protect both buildings from each other. He pointed out, however, that the current design proposes a separation with much of it having a zero hour rating, as well as including an 8 m2 penetration. The separation does not even follow the line of severance.

The Respondent also asserted that building a firewall would have practical benefits for the Applicant, namely it would allow them to avoid the interconnected floor space requirements. Moreover, he explained that it was his view that the joint management agreement might be difficult to implement.

On the second issue, the Respondent stated that even if the arena is not considered a three storey structure on its own, because the levels of the mall and arena are offset as they connect to each other, the combined building must then be viewed as a three storey structure that has an interconnected floor space. Since the Applicant's design does not include a firewall, nor a continuous two hour separation between the mall and the arena, the requirements for interconnected floor space fire safety measures such as smoke control etc. found in Articles 3.2.8.3. to 3.2.8.11. must therefore apply. The Respondent noted that the current design of the facility has not proposed these measures.

Regarding the Applicant's argument that the design of the structure offers sufficiency of compliance with these provisions in the OBC, the Respondent indicated that he believed it was beyond his authority to make such an assessment.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that OBC Sentence 3.2.3.4.(1) is satisfied without the construction of a party wall on condition that the building is managed and operated as a single entity and that a single legal agreement dealing with the operation of the buildings and their respective fire and life safety systems is registered on title.

It is also the decision of the Building Code Commission that Articles 3.2.8.3. to 3.2.8.11. of the OBC have not been satisfied.

  1. Reasons

(i) No compensating measures to prevent smoke migration and flame spread have been provided.





Dated at Toronto this 23rd day in the month of September in the year 1999 for application number 1999-51.



____________________________

Mr. James Lischkoff, Chair-Designate





_______________________

Mr. Stewart Smith





__________________________

Mr. Robert De Berardis