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BCC Ruling No. 98-14-619

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Clauses and 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. Milo Janecek, President, Paramount Construction Ltd., 213 Breithaupt Street, Kitchener, Ontario for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Jim Witmer, Chief Building Official, City of Kitchener, Ontario to determine whether the roof assembly, as constructed, without a thermal barrier between the foam plastic insulation and the steel roof deck, but including other measures provides sufficiency of compliance with Clauses and of the Ontario Building Code at the Sowa Tool plant, 334 Manitou Drive, Kitchener, Ontario.


Mr. Milo Janecek, President
Paramount Construction Ltd.
Kitchener, Ontario


Mr. Jim Witmer
Chief Building Official
City of Kitchener


Mr. Ross Thomson (Chair)
Ms. Lesia Beznaczuk
Mr. Cliff Youdale


Toronto, Ontario


March 25, 1998


March 25, 1998


Mr. Peter Colquhoun, Consultant
Arencon Inc.
Mississauga, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Jim Witmer
Chief Building Official
City of Kitchener
The Respondent


  1. The Applicant

Mr. Milo Janecek, President, Paramount Construction Ltd., was issued an order to comply under the Building Code Act, 1992 to install a thermal barrier in the roof assembly at the precision tool sales and warehouse building known as the Sowa Tool plant, Kitchener, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant recently added a 835.7 m2, one storey addition to an existing precision tool sales and warehouse building. Including the addition, the expanded structure has a total building area of 2,154.1m2 and is considered to be one storey in building height. The older portion of the building contains a small mezzanine that comprises only 0.036 % of the ground floor area. The existing building is constructed of noncombustible construction, with the exception of a 50 mm (2 in) thick wood deck in the roof assembly of the oldest portion of the existing building.

The recently constructed addition is also built of noncombustible construction. It contains a 25 mm (3 in) thick combustible foam plastic insulation (Roofmate) which is not protected by a thermal barrier between the 40 mm (1.5 in) steel roof deck and the insulation. The roof assembly also contains a vapour barrier above the deck but below the Roofmate insulation, as well as a 25 mm (1 in) insulation board above the Roofmate, and topped off with a 4-ply built-up roof to match the existing. The roof assembly of the addition is supported by steel joists.

The expanded building is equipped with a single-stage fire alarm system that monitors both alarm and supervisory signals and is connected to Sowa Tool's burglar alarm system. The building does not have a sprinkler system nor a standpipe and hose system. It has fire route access on the north, south and west faces of the building. A fire hydrant is located approximately 45 m (150 ft) from the west side of the building. Also, exit lights with emergency power provide lighting for the principal exit routes.

The building is classified as a Group F - Division 3, low hazard industrial occupancy.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the addition, as constructed, without a thermal barrier in the roof assembly, but including other measures, provides sufficiency of compliance with Clause of the Ontario Building Code. Sentence allows a building with a metal roof deck assembly containing a combustible material to waive the conditions of acceptance of CAN/ULC-S126-M provided that certain conditions are met. One of these conditions, found in Clause (a) of Sentence, is that the roof assembly contain thermal barrier. The new roof assembly in thesubject addition contains Roofmate, a combustible foam plastic insulation, however, no thermal barrier was installed. The Applicants are proposing other compensating measures, namely greater fire department access routes.

  1. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Clause Roof Deck Assemblies

(2) The requirements of Sentence (1) are waived provided

(a)the combustible material above the roof deck is protected by a thermal barrier conforming to Clause that is located

(i)on its underside, or
(ii)beneath the roof deck,

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the building should be considered as a structure conforming to Article of the OBC, instead of Article as has previously been the case. This alternate approach would allow the recently constructed roof assembly to remain, since Article permits one storey, division 3, industrial buildings to be constructed of combustible construction. This would mean that the roof assembly would not have to comply with Article regarding thermal barriers.

The Applicant recognized that in order to use this alternate approach under Article the building must qualify under the conditions of this provision. Considering that the building is one storey, unsprinklered and is 2,154.2 m2 in building area this means that the building must face three streets. Currently, the building is considered to face two streets and in order to be considered as facing three streets the structure must have 75 % of the perimeter within 15 m of a fire access route. The Applicant noted that the building perimeter, including the addition, is approximately 236.2 m (775 ft) with 159.4 m (523 ft), or 67.5 %, of it within 15 m of a fire department access route. They contended that this extent of fire access routes does comply with Article if an interpolative method is used, i.e. using the known figures in Table 3.2.2.W. to estimate another figure somewhere between those numbers. In this case, the figures relate to building area with respect to the number of streets the building faces.

Specifically, the Applicants argued that if, under Article, a building facing 2 streets, i.e. having 50 % of the perimeter within 15 m of a fire route, is allowed to be 2,000 m2 in building area and if a building facing 3 streets, or having a fire route along 75 % of its perimeter is permitted to be 2,400 m2, then a structure with a building area of 2,154.2 m2 should only be required to have a fire route on 59.6 % of the perimeter. In the Applicant's view, the interpolative method offers a sliding scale of perimeter required as fire route depending on building area. On this basis the Sowa Tool warehouse, with 67.5 % of its perimeter as fire route, meets and exceeds the condition of Article

The Applicant also noted that they have also provided other measures in excess of OBC requirements that are intended to improve the safety of the facility. For example, the single-stage, single zone fire alarm system is monitored by an agency with a direct alarm connection to the local fire department. This system will be upgraded in a few months to a ULC listed central monitoring station. The facility also has an audible carbon monoxide alarm system. Finally, the building is equipped with exit signs even though the occupant load is only 40. The Code requires such signage when the occupant load reaches 150 people.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that the thermal barrier required in the roof assembly was not installed as indicated on the permit drawing that were submitted and reviewed. As a result, they issued an order to comply on November 26, 1997. Further, the Respondent rejected the alternate approach of considering the building under Article since the OBC does not permit the interpolation of the percentage of the building perimeter to determine the number of streets for fighting purposes. In their opinion , the structure remains subject to the requirements of Article The Respondent also noted that to date the Applicant has refused to install a sprinkler system, which they feel would compensate for the lack of a thermal barrier.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the roof construction of the one storey addition shows sufficiency of compliance with the Ontario Building Code provided that;

fire deparment access is maintained on the north side of the building as well as on the west and south sides.

  1. Reasons

a)The owner is allowing only parallel parking adjacent to the building on the north side to maintain fire department access on that side.

b)Additional fire safety measures have been provided, viz;

i)the building is equipped with a single stage fire alarm system that will transmit a signal to the fire department through an off site monitoring station that will be ULC listed as a central station.

ii)exit signs are provided in the building.

Dated at Toronto this 25th day in the month of March in the year 1998 for application number 1998-07.

Mr. Ross Thomson, Chair
Ms. Lesia Beznaczuk
Mr. Cliff Youdale