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BCC Ruling No. 98-46-651

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentence of Regulation 403, as amended by O. Reg. 22/98, 102/98 and 122/98 (the "Ontario Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. Ronald Gagliardi, President, Venchiarutti Gagliardi Architects Inc.2651 John Street, Unit 1B, Markham, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Kaz Mosielski, Chief Building Official, City of Kanata, Ontario to determine whether the proposed installation of Electroguard delayed access devices on certain exit doors provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence of the Ontario Building Code at The Home Depot, 10 frank Highbor Place, Kanata, Ontario.


Mr. Ronald Gagliardi
Venchiaretti Gagliardi Architects Inc.
Kanata, Ontario


Mr. Kaz Mosielski
Chief Building Official
City of Kanata


Mr. Roy Philippe (Chair)
Mr. Doug Clancey
Mr. Lawrence Glazer


Toronto and Ottawa, Ontario


December 3, 1998


December 3, 1998


Ms. Judy Jeske
For the Applicant

Mr. Kaz Mosielski
Chief Building Official
The Respondent


  1. The Applicant

Mr. Ronald Gagliardi, President, Venchiarutti Gagliardi Architects Inc., has received a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 and is currently constructing a new, one storey retail warehouse building to be occupied by The Home Depot at 10 Frank Highbor Place, Kanata, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Home Depot building currently being constructed is one storey, Group E - mercantile occupancy, and is 10,497 m2 (112,947.72 ft2) in area. The building is of noncombustible construction. It is equipped with a sprinkler system which is supervised by the fire alarm system. The fire alarm system is monitored and provides direct notification to the local Fire Department.

The construction of the subject building has reached the stage when finishing details, such as hardware are being installed. The Applicant is proposing to equip the exit doors around the perimeter of the warehouse with Sargent of Canada's electro nically controlled Electroguard delayed egress devices, even though these are not required by the OBC, because of their potential for reducing theft. These mechanisms are described as an electromagnet built into the crash bar of a panic-style exit device .

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the proposed installation of the subject delayed egress devices provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence of the Ontario Building Code. Article of the OBC describes the provisions for door release hardware. Specifically, Sentence (4) sets out below the conditions that must be met when installing an electromagnetic locking mechanism that does not include a latching device of some kind. With the particular delayed egress device in dispute, however, a latching mechanism is an integral part of the overall door hardware.

  1. Provisions of the 1997 Ontario Building Code

Sentence Door Release Hardware

(4) Electromagnetic locks that do not incorporate latches, pins or other similar devices to keep the door in the closed position are permitted to be installed on an exit doors other than doors described in Sentence (5) provided

a)the building is equipped with a fire alarm system conforming to Subsection 3.2.4.,

b)the locking device, and all similar devices in the access to exit leading to the exit door, are installed as ancillary devices to the fire alarm system and release immediately upon activation of

i) the alarm signal where a single stage fire alarm system is installed,

ii) except as provided in Subclause (iii), the alert signal where a 2 stage fire alarm system is installed, or

iii) the alarm signal of a 2 stage fire alarm system installed in a care or detention occupancy

c) the locking device releases immediately upon loss of power to the fire alarm control panel or loss of power to the fire alarm control panel or loss of power controlling the electromagnetic locking mechanism and its associated auxiliary controls,

d) the locking device releases immediately upon actuation of a manually operated switch readily accessible only to authorized personnel and located near the main entrance of the building or in the central alarm and control facility of Sentence .(1).

e) the locking device releases immediately upon a fault being detected in the electrical circuit between the fire alarm control panel and the controller of the locking device,

f) the locking device releases immediately upon the operation of a manual pull station for the fire alarm system located on the wall not more than 600 mm (23 5/8 in) from the door,

g) a legible sign having the words EMERGENCY EXIT UNLOCKED BY FIRE ALARM is permanently mounted on the door,

h) the lettering on the sign required in Clause (g) is at least 25 mm (1 in) high with a 5 mm (3/16 in) stroke.

i) upon release, the locking device must be reset manually by the actuation of the switch referred to in Clause (d),

j) the operation of any by-pass switch, where provided for testing of the fire alarm system causes an audible signal and a visual signal to be indicated at the fire alarm annunciator panel and at the monitoring station of Clauses, (b) or (c), and

k) emergency lighting is provided at the doors,

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the proposed installation of the Electroguard delayed egress devices provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence of the OBC because it meets the release requirements found in Clauses (b) to (f) of that Sentence. As well, it also complies with Clauses (g) to (k) of Sentence (4), which set out the standards for signage, reset and safety of electromagnetic door hardware. The Applicant also indicated that the delayed egress features of the locking mechanism comply with the requirements found in the NationalBuilding Code. The Electroguard device is ULC listed both as fire exit hardware as well as controlled exit panic hardware.

The Applicant, in describing the Electroguard locking device, noted that a small magnet is located in the bar mechanism which, when armed, or energized, prevents the push pad from being depressed for 15 seconds. This magnetic locking action is controlled electronically by circuitry contained in the bar. The activation or deactivation of the magnet does not involve the moving of any mechanical pieces such as latches or pins. The latch bolt mechanism, which provides positive locking action, is driven by the push pad itself, not the magnet. The magnet, when armed, simply prevents the bar from being depressed. Any removal of power, the Applicant noted, causes the subject door hardware to revert to a standard panic device (ULC listed), making the locking system fail-safe.

The Applicant noted as well, that the Electroguard device is also equipped with an additional release mechanism that de-energizes the electromagnetic locking assembly after 15 seconds if the panic bar is depressed for more than two seconds continuously . For these reasons, it was the Applicant's position that the electromagnetic lock was a delay device and not a latching mechanism.

By way of comparison, the Applicant claimed that the subject door hardware assembly was similar to that of other exit doors that also include both an electromagnetic lock (typically installed at the top of a door) and positive latching door hardware, but in which the devices are installed in separate locations on the door. They noted that doors with separate latching and electrolocking devices are permitted by the OBC. The Applicant further noted that the Respondent has indicated that they would allow a separate electromagnetic locking device to be installed on a door that is equipped with a latching mechanism. The fact that these two mechanisms are combined within the same panic bar is, in the Applicant's view, the only major difference between the Electroguard door hardware and more conventional doors where the hardware devices are separated.

  1. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted that the proposed installation of the Electroguard electromagnetic locks does not provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentence because this device contains a latching mechanism contrary to the OBC. He argued that the net effect of the latching mechanism would be to keep the door in a closed position and thus would violate the intent behind the "immediate release" clauses in Sentence (4). While the Respondent stated that standard electromagnetic locks can sometimes be found at the top of doors that are installed with separate latching mechanisms located elsewhere on the door, he noted that Sentence specifically prohibits electromagnetic locks that incorporate a latching device. The Respondent also noted that the recently released version of the OBC did not include amendments that would have permitted these devices. In his view, therefore, the Code still prohibits the use of such devices.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the installation of the Underwriters Laboratory of Canada listed electromagnetic door securing and releasing device provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence of the Building Code on the exit doors at the Home Depot at 10 Frank Highbor Place, Kanata.

  1. Reasons

i) The installation will meet the requirements of Article - (k) of the Ontario Building Code.

ii) The device is listed as panic hardware and tested to insure that the electromagnetic device does not interface with the safe operation of the exiting capacity.

iii) The electromagnetic device although incorporated in the hardware operates independently of the exit door hardware. The electro magnetic device is also listed by U.L.C. for that function.

Dated at Toronto this 3rd day in the month of December in the year 1998 for application number 1998-58.

Mr. Roy Philippe, Chair

Mr. Douglas Clancey

Mr. Lawrence Glazer