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BCC Ruling No. 97-57-599

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Clause 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. Robert DeGasperis, Vice President, Leasing, Metrus Properties, 30 Floral Parkway, Concord, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Mani Navabi, Chief Building Official, City of Vaughan, Ontario, concerning whether a travel distance of 38 metres in a building equipped with early suppression fast response sprinklers provides sufficiency of compliance with Clause of the Ontario Building Code at the Sherwin-Williams Facility, 200 Confederation Parkway,Vaughan, Ontario.


Mr. Robert DeGasperis, Vice President, Leasing
Metrus Properties
30 Floral Parkway
Concord, Ontario


Mr. Mani Navabi
Chief Building Official
City of Vaughan


Mr. Rick Florio (Chair)
Ms. Lesia Beznaczuk
Mr. Lawrence Glazer


Toronto, Ontario


Thursday, December 11th, 1997


Michael McConnell
Vice President,
Operations /Sales
Sherwin-Williams Co.
For the Applicant

Mr. Randy Brown
Randal Brown & Assoc. Ltd.
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Steve Penna
Chief Building Official
City of Vaughan
Agent for the Respondent


  1. The Applicant

Mr. Robert DeGasperis is an individual to whom a building permit was issued under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct two warehouses for the storage of aerosol products or combustible and noncombustible paint products at the Sherwin-Williams Facility, 200 Confederation Parkway, Vaughan, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant is proposing to construct a Group F - Division 1 (high hazard industrial occupancy) storage facility. The building is described as a single storey warehouse with a building area of 9,475 m2 (102,000 ft2). It is proposed to erect a firewall in the middle to divide the building into two smaller buildings. The buildings on either side of this firewall are to be constructed of noncombustible construction. Both buildings will be equipped with a fire alarm system, a standpipe and hose system, and a automatic sprinkler system.

The Applicant is proposing to construct this facility with a maximum travel distance to the exits of 38 m. This represents an increase of 10 m over the allowable maximum set out in the Building Code for this type of structure. To compensate for this additional travel distance, the Applicant is proposing to install an early suppression fast response (ESFR) sprinkler system, instead of the standard sprinkler system required by the Code.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the proposed installation of an ESFR sprinkler system in lieu of standard sprinklers provides sufficiency of compliance with Clause of the Ontario Building Code. This provision requires that the maximum travel distance to an exit be not more than 25 m in a high hazard industrial occupancy. As noted, the Applicant's are proposing a maximum travel distance of 35 m in the subject warehouse.

  1. Provisions of the Building Code Location of Exits

(1) Except as provided in Sentence (2),(3) and, where more than one exit is required from a floor area, such exits shall be located so that the travel distance to not less than one exit as described in Article shall be not more than

(a) 25 m (82 ft) in any Group F, Division 1 occupancy,

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the installation of early suppression fast response sprinkler system provides sufficiency of compliance with Clause of the Code. In their view, the upgraded sprinkler system would actuate quicker and would therefore allow occupants additional time to evacuate the building. The Applicant provided calculations indicating that the response time index (RTI) of a standard sprinkler system is 400. This translates into an actuation time of 4.5 minutes. The proposed ESFR sprinklers however have an RTI of 50, which equals an actuation time of .5 minutes. This earlier warning (of four minutes) would more than adequately allow the occupants enough time to travel the additional 10 m to the exits in the event of an emergency. In fact, the Applicant argues that with an ESFR system, the travel distance to the exit could 304 m farther while still maintaining the same level of safety as is required under the Code.

The Applicant also notes that the proposed occupant load in the facility is only 20 people which would mean very little crowding at exits. As well, the exit capacity far exceeds that which is required for the occupant load. The occupants of the warehouse would all be working on EE classified forklifts, which as the Applicant suggests, would mean that travel to the exits may be by forklift rather than on foot. Finally, it was noted that the ultraviolet detection system would provide quick identification of any fire.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that the proposed travel distances do not meet the requirements of Clause of the OBC. The maximum allowable travel distance for an F1 building is not to exceed 25 m. They argue that the Applicant has increased the travel distance so that the facility may accommodate additional rack storage.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that a travel distance of 38 m does not provide sufficiency of compliance with Clause

  1. Reasons

i) The Code does not distinguish between ESFR and regular sprinklers.

ii) The municipality has agreed to allow up to a 5 m additional travel distance (30m in total) in recognition of the increased performance provided by the ESFR sprinklers. iii) The in-rack sprinklering proposed by the Applicant is already a Code requirement.

Dated at Toronto this 11th day in the month of December in the year 1997 for application number 1997-66.

Mr. Rick Florio, Chair

Ms. Lesia Beznaczuk

Mr. Lawrence Glazer