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BCC Ruling No. 98-08-613

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Article 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. Peter Hallman, President, Hallman Eldercare (Waterloo) Inc., 230 Gage Avenue, Kitchener, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Tony Krimmer, Chief Building Official, City of Waterloo, Ontario, to determine whether the proposed distance between openings is permitted under Article of the Ontario Building Code at Terrace on the Square, 100 Caroline Street, Waterloo, Ontario.


Mr. Peter Hallman, President
Hallman Eldercare (Waterloo) Inc.
Kitchener, Ontario


Mr. Tony Krimmer
Chief Building Official
City of Waterloo


Mr. Michael Lio (Chair)
Mr. Ross Thomson
Mr. Lawrence Glazer


Toronto, Ontario


Wednesday, February, 25th, 1998


Wednesday, February, 25th, 1998


Mr. Robert Dyck
Robert J. Dyck Arch & Engr Inc.
Kitchener, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Mike Mckean
Plans Examiner
City of Waterloo
The Respondent


  1. The Applicant

Mr. Peter Hallman, President, Hallman Eldercare (Waterloo) Inc., applied for a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct a low-rise, care home facility known as Terrace on the Square at 100 Caroline Street, Waterloo, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant proposes to construct a four storey (plus basement), multi-unit, care home facility intended for senior citizens. The structure is classified as Group C - residential major occupancy. The building is constructed of combustible construction and has a building area of 1,175 m2. It is equipped with a sprinkler system, a fire alarm system and a standpipe and hose system.

As part of the design of the subject structure, the Applicant proposes to include "re-entrant corners" on the second, third and fourth floors. A re-entrant corner is defined as when the exterior walls of two adjacent units subtend 90 degrees from one another. In the present situation, the closest edges of the window openings of the re-entrant corner units are separated by a distance of 1.5 m on the second and third floors and 0.8 m on the fourth floor.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and the Respondent is whether the proposed separations of 1.5 m and 1.75 m for the re-entrant corner openings comply with the requirements of OBC Article This provision of the OBC sets out the formula for fire compartments facing each other in the same building (i.e., units at re-entrant corners) and is used to calculate the limiting distances for exposing building faces. Article also requires that the exterior wall of each fire compartment facing each other must have a fire-resistance rating at least equal to that of the fire separation between the two fire compartments.

  1. Provisions of the Building Code

Article Wall Exposed to Another Wall (1) Except as provided in Sentences and, where an opening in an exterior wall of a fire compartment is exposed to an opening in the exterior wall of another fire compartment, and the planes of the 2 walls are parallel or at an angle of less than 135o, measured from the exterior of the building, the openings in the 2 fire compartments shall be separated by a distance at least equal to Do where

Do = 2D - (0 x D), but in no case less than


1 m (3 ft 3 in)


D= the greater required limiting distance for the exposing building faces of the 2 fire compartments, and
0= the angle made by the intersecting planes of the exposing building faces of the 2 fire compartments, (in the case where the exterior walls are parallel and face each other, 0 = 0o).

  • Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the proposed distances between the unprotected openings complies with Article of the OBC. On the basis that the exposing building face has a maximum area of 10 m2, 18 percent unprotected openings, and that the building is sprinklered they derive a limiting distance less than the 1.5 m and 0.8 m distances proposed. Their calculations, in effect, reduce the percentage of unprotected openings from 18 to 9 percent because the building is sprinklered. The assumption used in this reduction is that the usual benefit of installing sprinklers, a doubling of openings in accordance with Article, can instead be applied towards a reduction in the limiting distance. As such, using 9 percent as the area of unprotected openings, the Applicant calculates the limiting distance in this situation to be 1.35 m.

The Applicant also notes that the proposed distances of 1.5 m and 0.8 m would also meet the standards set out in the 1997 version of the OBC, which adds a provision that allows that the spatial separations in the situation at issue to be waived because the building is sprinklered.

(Sentence It is for these reasons that the Applicant believes that they comply with Article of the OBC.

  • Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent initially submitted that the proposed limiting distance does not meet the requirements of Article Table 3.2.3.A stipulates that 2 m is the necessary distance between the proposed openings. In their view, the Code does not allow the assumption made by the Applicant regarding reducing limiting distance. Under Article, openings (which are presumably appropriately spaced from one another) are permitted to be increased in size, but nowhere, they argue, does it allow for distances to be reduced. In light of the 1997 Code, the municipality had no objection.

  • Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposed distance between openings demonstrates sufficiency of compliance to the Ontario Building Code.

  • Reasons

i) The building is fully sprinklered and exposure between fire compartments is minimized. ii) The 1997 edition of the Building Code waives the requirements for spatial separation between different fire compartments having unprotected openings meeting at an angle of less than 135o when the building is fully sprinklered.

iii) The municipality has no objection to accepting compliance under the 1997 Building Code.

Dated at Toronto this 25th day in the month of February in the year 1998 for application number 1997-83.

Michael Lio, Chair

Ross Thomson

Lawrence Glazer