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BCC Ruling No. 99-75-731

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #99-75-731

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentence 3.2.2.35.(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. Dan Alexander, Superintendent of School Support Services, Near North District School Board, North Bay, Ontario for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Brian Horsman, Chief Building Official, City of North Bay, Ontario to determine whether the noncombustible bleachers, with a calculated minimum fire-resistance rating of 1.36 hours, offered in lieu of sprinklering the spaces below, provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.2.2.35.(4) of the Ontario Building Code at the Trojan Alumni Complex at West Ferris Secondary School, 60 Marshall Park Drive, North Bay, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Mr. Dan Alexander, Superintendent
School Support Services
Near North District School Board
North Bay, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. Brian Horsman
Chief Building Official
City of North Bay

PANEL

Mr. Kenneth Peaker (Chair-Designate)
Mr. John Guthrie
Mr. Fred Barkhouse

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

December 9, 1999

DATE OF RULING

December 9, 1999

APPEARANCES

Mr. Dave Richards, P. Eng.
Northland Engineering (1987) Ltd.
North Bay, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Brian Horsman
Chief Building Official
City of North Bay
The Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Dan Alexander, Superintendent of School Support Services, Near North District School Board, North Bay, Ontario has received a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct an addition onto, and renovate, an existing bleacher facility known as the Trojan Alumni Complex at West Ferris Secondary School, 60 Marshall Park Drive, North Bay, Ontario.

  1. Description of Constrution

The Applicant is currently constructing an addition onto, and renovating an existing bleacher structure which is situated in the football field of West Ferris Secondary School. The bleacher building is located approximately 90 m from the school building. The existing bleacher facility is described as one storey in building height and is 262 m2 in building area. The bleachers are constructed of noncombustible construction consisting of 203 mm thick precast hollow core slabs as the upper and lower walking surfaces and 102 mm thick precast bleacher slabs as seating supported by load-bearing masonry walls. The space below the bleachers is to be renovated and will be used for dressing rooms, showers and a training room.

The addition, to be built on the west side, or to the rear, of the existing structure, is described as one storey, 288 m2 in building area (which includes a covered walkway on the addition's west side) and is constructed mostly of combustible (wood) construction but has a steel roof. The addition is to be used mainly for a concession area but will also contain a kitchen, washrooms, and storage and utility rooms.

The proposed expanded bleacher facility is classified as a Group A, Division 4 (open air) assembly occupancy. It will have a total occupant load of 1,034 persons, 580 allocated to the bleachers themselves and 454 persons within the addition and in the renovated space below the bleachers. The completed structure will be equipped with a fire alarm system, but not a sprinkler system.

The construction in dispute is the omission of a sprinkler system in the space directly below the bleachers.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the noncombustible bleachers, with a calculated minimum fire-resistance rating of 1.36 hours, offered in lieu of sprinklering the spaces below, provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.2.2.35.(4) of the Ontario Building Code. This provision requires that sprinklers must be installed in all spaces below the tiers of seats in a Group A, Division 4 building. By allowing the subject building to be of noncombustible construction, however, it permits the wall, floor and ceiling assemblies to be unrated separations. While the Applicant does not intend to sprinkler the area below the bleachers, he is offering an enhanced fire-resistance rating (at least 1.36 hours according to his own calculations) in terms of the construction of the bleacher building. At issue then, is whether the supplemented minimum fire-resistance rating of the bleachers compensates for the omission of the required sprinkler system and thereby achieves sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.2.2.35.(4)

  1. Provision of the Building Code

Sentence 3.2.2.35.(4) Group A, Division 4

  1. Sprinklers shall be installed in all spaces below tiers of seats in a building classified as Group A, Division 4 if those spaces are used for occupancy.
    (See Appendix A.)

  1. Applicant's Position

The Agent for the Applicant submitted that the enhanced fire separation compensates for the omission of sprinklers below the bleachers and thus provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.2.2.35.(4). He explained that intent behind the sprinkler requirement was to provide protection for people sitting in the bleachers viewing sporting events. This protection, he argued, was still being provided but through additional fire containment due to the increased fire separation. He noted that the 1.36 hour separation offered in the bleacher seating component was the minimum resistance provided. The other components of the bleacher construction provided even higher fire resistance rating, specifically the reinforced block walls offered a 1.9 hour rating while the hollow core slabs allowed a 2 hour rating.

The Agent also argued that the new use of the space below the bleacher seats, as dressing and training rooms and as a washroom, will not pose an undue fire risk. These rooms will have a low fire load in terms of stored material and will be of noncombustible construction, he added. As well, the activities that are to occur in these spaces are non-fire related.

The Agent stated that based on the fact that the minimum fire-resistance rating of the structure is 1.36 hours and that the combustible load will be low, the users of the bleachers will have more than adequate time to evacuate in an emergency. The new fire alarm system will also provide some early warning to persons in and on the facility.

  1. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted the proposed addition and renovation are regulated by Article 3.2.2.35. and in particular Sentence (4) which requires that the space under the bleachers be sprinklered. Since the Applicant did not intend to sprinkler this area, the Respondent indicated that he felt the proposal did not comply with the Code. He made reference to Appendix A to the OBC which provide further clarification of the requirement to sprinkler such spaces.

The Respondent indicated that he felt he did not have the authority to accept such a proposal.

  1. Commission Ruling:

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the noncombustible bleachers with a minimum calculated fire-resistance rating of 1.36 hours, offered in lieu of the sprinklering the space below, provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.2.2.35.(4) of the Ontario Building Code at the Trojan Alumni Complex at West Ferris Secondary School, 60 Marshall Park Drive, North Bay, Ontario.

  1. Reasons:

Sufficiency of compliance has been achieved through the provision of the enhanced fire-resistance rating of 1.36 hours in the bleacher construction.

Dated at Toronto, this 9th day, in the month of December, in the year 1999, for application number 1999-80.

Mr. Kenneth Peaker

Mr. John Guthrie

Mr. Fred Barkhouse