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BCC Ruling No. 99-63-720

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #99-63-720

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentence 3.2.2.75. 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. Ian Campbell, Executive Vice-President, Lee Valley Tools Ltd., Ottawa, Ontario for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Richard Hewitt, Chief Building Official, City of Ottawa, Ontario to determine whether the proposed addition, currently being constructed with fire separations having a 45 minute fire-resistance rating and that will result in a completed structure with a total building area of 5,198.9 m2, provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.2.2.75. of the Ontario Building Code at Lee Valley Tools Ltd., 1090 Morrison Drive, Ottawa, Ontario.

APPLICANT


Mr. Ian Campbell, Executive Vice-President
Lee Valley Tools Ltd.
Ottawa, Ontario

RESPONDENT


Mr. Richard Hewitt
Chief Building Official
City of Ottawa

PANEL


Mr. Kenneth Peaker (Chair-Designate)
Mr. Robert De Berardis
Mr. Fred Barkhouse

PLACE


Toronto and Ottawa, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING


October 21, 1999

DATE OF RULING

October 21, 1999

APPEARANCES

Mr. Robert W. Hipwell, Engineer
Durell Construction Ltd.
Nepean, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Chris Freeman
Chief Building Code Plan Examination
City of Ottawa
Designate for the Respondent



RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Ian Campbell, Executive Vice-President, Lee Valley Tools Ltd., Ottawa, Ontario has received a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct an addition to a warehouse at Lee Valley Tools Ltd., 1090 Morrison Drive, Ottawa, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant is currently constructing a two storey (with mezzanine and an underground parking garage) addition to an existing Group F, Division 3 - (warehouse) low hazard industrial occupancy (plus a small office) that is used to store gardening tools and supplies. The building is described as being three storeys in building height, constructed of noncombustible construction and equipped with a sprinkler system and a fire alarm system. The extension to the building will be a Group F, Division 3 occupancy on the ground floor and a Group D (office) business use on the second floor. It has a building area of 1,719.3 m2, and together with the existing building at 3,479.5 m2, the completed structure will have a building area of 5,198.9 m2.

The construction in dispute involves the level of structural fire protection to which the building is currently being constructed. At present, the Applicant is constructing the wall and floor assemblies of the addition with a 45 minute fire-resistance rating in accordance with Article 3.2.2.77. of the OBC. This classification, however, places a maximum building area of 4,800 m2 on the structure if it is sprinklered and considered three storeys in building height. At a total building area of 5,198.9 m2, the Applicant's building exceeds the permitted area for a three storey building under Article 3.2.2.77. by 398.9 m2. Considering the projected size of the building when completed, the structural fire protection requirements of Article 3.2.2.75. may be more applicable. This provision allows a three storey sprinklered building to have a total building area of 14,400 m2, but the building must be of noncombustible construction only and have floor and wall assemblies with a fire-resistance rating of 1 hour.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the proposed addition, currently being constructed with fire separations having a 45 minute fire-resistance rating and that will result in a completed structure with a total building area of 5,198.9 m2, provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.2.2.75. of the Ontario Building Code. This provision sets out the structural fire protection requirements for certain Group F, Division 3 buildings, including three storey sprinklered structures with a maximum building area of 14,400 m2. Among the fundamental construction standards indicated, are requirements that the building must be of noncombustible construction and that the floor and wall assemblies must have a fire-resistance rating of 1 hour. The Applicant's building, however, has been constructed according to Article 3.2.2.77. which, in comparison to Article 3.2.2.75., allows relaxations on whether combustible material is used in construction and permits the fire-resistance rating to be 45 minutes.

While the Applicant's building is of noncombustible construction, the level of fire-resistance rating is only 45 minutes, however. In order to qualify for the construction requirements found in Article 3.2.2.77., the building must be limited to a building area of 4,800 m2. The Applicant's building exceeds this maximum by 8.3 percent.

  1. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Article 3.2.2.75 - Group F, Division 3, up to 6 Storeys, Sprinklered

(1) A building classified as Group F, Division 3 is permitted to conform to Sentence (2) provided:

  1. except as permitted by Sentence 3.2.2.7.(1), the building is sprinklered;
  2. it is not more than 6 storeys in building height, and;
  3. it has a building area that:

i. is not limited if the building is more than 1 storey in building height;

ii. is not more than 21,600 m2 (233,000 ft2) if 2 storeys in building height;

iii. is not more than 14,400 m2 (155,000 ft2) if 3 storeys in building height;

iv. is not more than 10,800 m2 (116,000 ft2) if 4 storeys in building height;

v. is not more than 8,640 m2 (93,000 ft2) if 5 storeys in building height, or;

vi. is not more than 7,200 m2 (77,500 ft2) if 6 storeys in building height.

(2) Except as permitted by Article 3.2.2.16., the building referred to in Sentence (1) shall be of noncombustible construction, and;

a. floor assemblies shall be fire separations with a fire-resistance rating not less than 1 h;

b. mezzanines shall have a fire-resistance rating not less than 1 h, and;

c. loadbearing walls, columns and aches shall have a fire-resistance rating not less than that required for the supported assembly.

Article 3.2.2.77. - Group F, Division 3, up to 4 Storeys, Sprinklered

(1) A building classified as Group F, Division 3 is permitted to conform to Sentence (2) provided;

  1. except as permitted by Sentence 3.2.2.7.(1), the building is sprinklered;
  2. it is not more than 4 storeys in building height, and;
  3. it has a building are not more than:

i. 14,400 m2 (155,000 ft2) if 1 storey in building height;

ii. 7,200 m2 (77,500 ft2) if 2 storeys in building height;

iii. 4,800 m2 (51,700 ft2) if 3 storeys in building height, or;

iv. 3,600 m2 (38,800 ft2) if 4 storeys in building height.

(2) The building referred to in Sentence (1) is permitted to be of combustible construction or noncombustible construction used singly or in combination, and;

a. floor assemblies shall be fire separations and, if of combustible construction, shall have a fire-resistance rating not less than 45 min;

b. mezzanines shall have, if of combustible construction, a fire-resistance rating not less than 45 min, and;

c. loadbearing walls, columns and arches supporting an assembly required to have a fire-resistance rating shall:

i. have a fire-resistance rating not less than 45 min, or;

ii. be of non-combustible construction.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant acknowledged at the outset that size of the currently constructed building addition exceeds the maximum permitted in Article 3.2.2.77. As a result, the structural fire protection standards of 45 minutes also found in that provision may not be applicable to their building under a literal reading of the OBC. Nevertheless, in his view, the finished building will meet the same level of life safety intended in the Building Code. He indicated that he would present arguments to demonstrate sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.2.2.75.

The Applicant argued that the intent of Subsection 3.2.2. of the OBC is to ensure adequate fire protection and safety for the building occupants. He stated that the subject building provides a sufficient level of safety for the occupants. To demonstrate this, he argued that it is sensible to consider, especially when dealing with occupants and specifically issues of occupant load, the overall floor area of the building as an important factor. He offered two discussions regarding the size of the building in terms of floor area and its level of structural fire protection.

The first discussion was based on an extrapolation of the maximum building area allowed for a 3 storey building under Article 3.2.2.77. The Applicant argued that if the 4,800 m2 maximum footprint were multiplied by the number of permitted storeys for that area, the total floor area allowed in a building under the more relaxed standards found in Article 3.2.2.77. would be 14,400 m2. In comparison, the total floor area of his building when the addition is completed, at 9,648.7 m2, he noted will be far less. In other words, he felt that the design of his building, with the significantly smaller upper floors and the inherent increase of safety that this creates is not recognized by the OBC.

The Applicant also argued that the provision which directly applies to the construction of his building, Article 3.2.2.75., was onerous and is meant for considerably larger structures. At 14,400 m2 of building area for a 3 storey building, this Article determines the construction standards for buildings that have considerably more floor area per floor than he has in his entire building.

The second discussion offered by the Applicant was that if the areas of the existing building and new addition that currently meet the fire-resistance rating requirements of OBC 3.2.2.75., such as the small office space, the fire-rated stair enclosures and vehicle ramp, and the lobby were subtracted from the total building area, the net building area remaining is only 4,632 m2. Well within the maximum building area imposed by Article 3.2.2.77., the Applicant indicated.

Lastly, the Applicant stated that at roughly eight percent over the allowable limit, the building is only marginally over the maximum. Moreover, the structure will have a low occupant load and it has exceptional fire fighting access since it faces three streets and is surrounded by large windows.

In conclusion, the Applicant indicated that in order to achieve sufficiency of compliance they would be willing to restrict the total gross floor area of the building to under 5,200 m2.

  1. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted that the building's area is too large to be considered under Article 3.2.2.77. As a result, he argued that Article 3.2.2.75. is the applicable construction criteria, and therefore the appropriate fire-resistance rating for the wall and floor assemblies of the subject building is one hour.

The Respondent did indicated that he was sympathetic to the arguments present by the Applicant, nevertheless he felt that the municipality did not have the authority to accept neither the eight percent additional building area nor the arguments based on floor area or subtracting the one hour rated areas from the rest of the ground floor as an equivalent to Article 3.2.2.75.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the addition, currently being built with fire separations having a 45 minutes fire-resistance rating and that will result in a completed structure with a total building area of 5,198.9 m2, does not provide sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.2.2.75. of the Ontario Building Code at Lee Valley Tools Inc., 1090 Morrison Drive, Ottawa, Ontario.

  1. Reasons

A building constructed to the requirements of Article 3.2.2.77. is limited to a building area of 4,800 m2. The Applicant's proposed building will have a building area of 5,198.9 m2.



Dated at Toronto this 21st day in the month of October in the year 1999 for application number 1999-73.



____________________________

Mr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair-Designate





_______________________

Mr. Fred Barkhouse





__________________________

Mr. Robert De Berardis