Skip to content
You are here > Home > Your Ministry > Ontario Building Code > Appeals & Approvals > Building Code Commission > Rulings of the Building Code Commission > 1998 > BCC Ruling No. 98-43-648

Follow us

BCC Ruling No. 98-43-648

Email this page

BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #98-43-648

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Article 3.9.3.4. of Regulation 61, as amended by O. Reg. 400/91, 158/93, 160/93, 383/94, 20/95 and 395/96 (the "Ontario Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. W. K. (Bill) Evans, Manager of Maintenance, Durham District School Board, 710 Bayly Street East, Ajax, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Paul Allore, Chief Building Official, Town of Ajax, Ontario to determine whether the proposed measures provide sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.9.3.4. of the Ontario Building Code concerning adequate provision for fire fighting at the 16 portable classrooms at Exeter High School, 80 Falby Court, Ajax, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Mr. W. K. (Bill) Evans
Manager of Maintenance
Durham District School Board
Ajax, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. Paul Allore
Chief Building Official
Town of Ajax

PANEL

Mr. Roy Philippe (Chair)
Mr. Ross Thomson
Mr. Robert De Berardis

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

November 5, 1998

DATE OF RULING

November 5, 1998

APPEARANCES

Mr. W. K. (Bill) Evans, Manager
Durham District School Board
Windsor, Ontario
The Applicant

Mr. Jack Mamo
Senior Plans Examiner
Town of Ajax
For the Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. W. K. (Bill) Evans, Manager of Maintenance, Durham District School Board, has been issued an order to comply under the Building Code Act, 1992 to address deficiencies regarding insufficient hydrant coverage and fire department access for the 16 portable classrooms on the grounds of Exeter High School, at 80 Falby Court, Ajax, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant constructed, prior to obtaining a building permit, 16 portable classrooms at Exeter High School. Each portable is described as being a combustible, one storey building with an area of 71.4 m2 (768 ft2) and is classified as having a Group A - Division 2 (Assembly -School) occupancy. All of the subject portables have two exit doors. Also, each portable is equipped with an interconnected fire alarm system that includes heat detectors and pull stations that connects to every other portable as well as to the school. As well, each portable is supplied with a fire extinguisher

The portables are situated in a single group comprised of up to three irregular rows located to the east of the main school building. The separation between each portable and from all portables to the school itself exceeds 6 m (19 ft 8 in) and 12 m (39 ft 4 in) respectively. Fire access is provided to the area of the site where the portable classrooms are located by a large asphalt apron surrounding the school, which connects to a public street by a large parking lot at the south end of the site.

There is no fire hydrant situated within 90 m (295 ft 3 in) of the subject portables.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the recently constructed portable classrooms provide sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.9.3.4. of the OBC concerning the requirement to provide adequate provision for fire fighting. This provision of the 1990 OBC stipulates that where there are more than 12 portables on a school site, the fire fighting requirements regarding streets, access routes and adequate water supply are applicable. Specifically, these provisions would require that the subject group of portables be positioned so that they face a street or access route located not less than 3 m (9 ft 10 in) and not more than 15 m (49 ft 2 in) away and that adequate water be supplied to the portables for fire fighting purposes, including providing fire hydrants within 90 m (295 ft 3 in). Currently, these provisions are not met at the 16 classroom portables at Exeter High School.

  1. Provisions of the 1990 Ontario Building Code

Article 3.9.3.4. Provisions for Fire Fighting

(1) The requirements in Articles 3.2.2.6. and 3.2.5.1. to 3.2.5.8. need not be provided where there are not more than 12 portable classrooms on a site and where

(a) the distance between portable classrooms is 6 m (19 ft 8 in) or more, (see A-3.9.3., Case 1 in Appendix A)

(b) the distance between portable classrooms is less than 6 m (19 ft 8 in) and the requirements of Subsection 3.2.3. are applied between the classrooms, (see A-3.9.3., Case 2 in Appendix A)

(c) the portable classrooms are in groups where

(i) the distance between the classrooms is less than 6 m (19 ft 8 in),

(ii) the number of classrooms in a group is not more than 6,

(iii) within a group of classrooms, the facing walls have a fire-resistance rating of 45 min, rated from inside the classrooms, and

(iv) the distance between groups of classrooms is 12 m (39 ft 4 in) or more, (see A-3.9.3., Case 3 in Appendix A)

(d) the portable classrooms are in groups where

(i) the distance between the classrooms is less than 6 m (19 ft 8 in),

(ii) the number of classrooms in a group is not more than 6, and

(iii) the distance between groups of classrooms is 12 m (39 ft 4 in) or more, (see A-3.9.3., Case 4 in Appendix A) or

(e) the portable classrooms are in groups where

(i) the means of egress for each classroom within a group is by a common corridor or passageway

(ii) the number of classrooms in a group is not more than 6, and

(iii) the distance between groups of classrooms is 12 m (39 ft 4 in) or more. (See A-3.9.3., Case 5 in Appendix A).

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the construction of the subject portables was necessary due to large increases in local school enrollment. The portables, he argued, while not in full compliance with the OBC, are a temporary measure. In fact, he indicated that the Durham District School Board intended to close this particular high school by June 2000 and relocate its students to two other facilities, both of which will soon be under construction. On this basis, the Applicant insisted that the disputed requirements of Article 3.9.3.4., such as fire routes and water supply that includes a fire hydrant, would not be necessary at the site in lessthan two years.

Nevertheless, the Applicant argued that the existing fire route access is adequate. Regarding the installation of a fire hydrant, he noted that at Exeter High School, the necessary water connection would require installing a pipeline over 300m in length.

The Applicant instead offered certain measures intended to demonstrate sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.9.3.4. until the completion of the other two high schools in 2000:

1) All of the portables have two exit doors, whereas only one is required in the OBC.

2) The distances between all of the portables and the school itself exceeds the requirements in Article 3.9.3.4.

3) The fire alarm system, which connects all of the portables to each other and to the school, provides pull stations and heat detectors, the latter also being beyond Code requirements.

4) All portable classrooms are equipped with fire extinguishers.

5) A comprehensive Fire Safety Plan has been developed and approved by the local Fire Department. This provides for six fire drills per year.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that the proposed measures do not provide sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.9.3.4. Specifically, he noted that the 16 portables do not meet the access route and fire hydrant requirements of the OBC. These deficiencies, in his view, should be corrected. While recognizing the Durham District School Board's dilemma concerning increased student enrollment due to the large degree of residential construction in Ajax, the respondent argued, however, that the safety requirements of the OBC cannot be ignored and the implementation thereof delayed. Doing so would reduce public safety and expose many parties to increased risk of liability.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the portable classrooms located at the Exeter High School provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.9.3.4. of the building code provided

i) An external wall hydrant on the east side of the building or fire hose cabinets, are available within the existing school building to provide fire fighting to the portable classrooms.

  1. Reasons

i) The portables are equipped with 2 exits, heat detectors installed in each portable connected to the school fire alarm system on a separate zone and the system is connected to a central monitoring station.

ii) Water supply is being provided from within the existing school for fire fighting at the portable classroom location.

Dated at Toronto this 5th day in the month of November in the year 1998 for application number 1998-52.

Mr. Roy Philippe, Chair

Mr. Robert De Berardis

Mr. Ross Thomson