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BCC Ruling No. 98-03-608

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentence of "the Building Code" (Ontario Regulation 419/89 as amended by Ont. Reg. 183/88, 581/88, 11/89 and 115/89).

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. Bryan Coleman, President, Shutters Residential Corp., 2301 Haines Road, Suite 208, Mississauga, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Frank Asta, Chief Building Official, Town of Oakville, Ontario, concerning whether the proposed measures provide sufficiency of compliance in li eu of adequate egress from the fourth storey in accordance with Sentence of the Ontario Building Code at Wyndham Terrace Residences 235, 237 and 239 Church Street, Oakville, Ontario.


Mr. Bryan Coleman, President
Shutters Residential Corporation
Mississauga, Ontario


Mr. Frank Asta
Chief Building Official
Town of Oakville


Mr. Roy Philippe (Chair)
Mr. Rick Florio
Mr. Ross Thomson


Toronto, Ontario


Thursday, January 15th, 1998


Mr. William Hicks
William R. Hicks Architect
Mississauga, Ontario
For the Applicant

Mr. Steve Tomlin, Principal
Hine Reichard Tomlin Inc.
Markham, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant


  1. The Applicant

Mr. Bryan Coleman, President, Shutters Residential Corporation was issued a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct three new, four storey townhouse residential units at Wyndham Terrace Residences, 235, 237 and 239 Church Str eet, Oakville, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant proposes to construct three identical, four storey, attached townhouse residential units. Each unit has a building area of 82 m2 (882 ft2), including the below grade (basement) level. The units are constructed of noncombustible constructio n. Each unit will be equipped with an interconnected smoke detection and fire alarm system and a sprinkler system.

Since the units are considered to be four storeys, but have only one exit on grade level, the Applicants also propose to create a fire separation between the second and third floors by installing a self-closing and self-latching door. As well, a balcony will be provided from the third floor having a circular stair to the second level terrace. The terrace measures approximately 5.8 m by 5 m and is 3 m above grade.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the proposed measures provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentence of the Ontario Building Code, in lieu of adequate egress from the fourth storey. Sentence o f the Building Code allows a dwelling to have only one exit as long as it is not necessary to travel more than one storey up or down to reach that exit. In the subject building, the fourth floor is three levels above the exit at grade level.

  1. Provisions of the Building Code

Sentence Egress from Dwelling Units

(3) A single exit is permitted from a dwelling unit provided the exit is an exterior doorway not more than 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) above adjacent ground level and (a) it is not necessary to travel up or down more than 1 storey to reach the exit door, or

(b) the uppermost floor level opens to a balcony not more than 6 m (19 ft 8 in) above adjacent ground level.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the units, as designed, will provide sufficiency of compliance for the fourth floor egress. The Applicants demonstrate that they are providing several compensating measures to mitigate the fact that the fourth floor is three storeys above the exit, which is not permitted under They are constructing the units of noncombustible construction which is above the Code requirements for this type of building.

The noncombustible construction will provide less fuel for a fire and a higher level of compartmentalization, they note. The floors will provide a minimum one hour fire resistance rating. Further, the individual units are separated from each other and f rom the adjoining three storey buildings by a separation with a two hour fire resistance rating. The Applicants argue that this additional compartmentalization will afford occupants greater time to evacuate.

The units are also to be equipped with a residential sprinkler system. The Applicants note that the addition of sprinklers will provide an effective safety measure. It is anticipated that the sprinklers would certainly contain any fire and would probabl y extinguish one. They would also offer a degree of smoke control. The balconies on each level, save for the basement, would also provide equivalent smoke control as balconies on high-rise residential buildings consistent with Article

As well, there is a further containment measure, a self closing and self latching door, which has been provided on the second floor. This has the effect of separating the individual units into two fire compartments, preventing smoke migration and thus al lowing extra time for the third and fourth floor occupants to use the balcony and exterior stairs as egress.

The Applicants also point out the units are to be equipped with interconnected smoke detector systems. This system will offer occupants early warning in the event of a fire. This additional time, the Applicants believe, will provide occupants on the upp er floors the opportunity to assess the danger and to evacuate by the exterior stairs, if necessary.

In terms of egress options, the Applicants also argue that the aforementioned balconies and exterior stairs provide a second means of egress for the unit, serving especially the third and fourth floors. The Applicant notes that occupants of the third and fourth floors can access the third floor balcony and then descend the exterior stair. This brings them to an area of refuge, the ground floor terrace. Once on the terrace, occupants have the choice of waiting for the fire department or negotiating the 3 m drop to grade level.

The Applicants provided evacuation data demonstrating favourable egress times for the subject unit in comparison to other structures also governed by these provisions of the Building Code. For example, the evacuation of the proposed units by a disabled p erson would take 2.5 minutes. For a 1,200 m2 unit (the maximum size allowed under Article, the egress time for a disabled person would be 3.1 minutes. For a high-rise building the evacuation time to the exterior by a disabled person would be 7 minutes.

For the reasons discussed above, the Applicant believes that the proposed measures provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentence regarding the fourth floor egress.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that the proposed residential units do not comply with Part 9 nor Part 3 of the Building Code. The units do not conform to Sentence, in particular. In a four storey structure, they argue, with only one exit at grade level serving that floor, the ground floor, and the third floor, the fourth floor is not adequately served in terms of exits. The Respondent believes that this situation may cause danger for the units occupants due to the excess travel distance.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposed measures for sprinklers, fire alarm, fire separation and egress provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentence of the Building Code, provided that

i) An additional stairway is provided from the 3rd floor balcony to act as an alternate means of egress to the terrace, and

ii) The fire door at the 3rd floor stairway is equipped with a hold open device that will operate to close the door on activation of the fire alarm system.

  1. Reasons

i) The building is sprinklered throughout.

ii) A fire alarm system with smoke detectors is provided at each floor level.

iii) A fire separation is provided to separate floors 1 & 2 from floors 3 & 4.

iv) The building is of non-combustible construction and adjacent dwelling units are separated by a 2 hr fire separation.

v) Egress from the 4th floor is provided by access to a balcony on the 3rd floor level which has 2 means of access to the terrace.

vi) The rooms on the 4th floor have access to a balcony.

vii) Time based egress analysis indicates that the time to egress is within acceptable limits.

Dated at Toronto this 15th day in the month of January 1998 for application number 1997-77.

Roy Philippe, Chair

Rick Florio

Ross Thomson