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BCC Ruling No. 97-46-588

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #97-46-588

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentence 3.2.2.45.(2) 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 Woodman, President, Robert J. Woodman Architect Inc., 526 Highland Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Les Batson, Chief Building Official, City of Ottawa, Ontario, to determine whether the proposed glass paver floor assembly provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.2.2.45.(2) of the Ontario Building Code at St. Laurent Shopping Centre, 1200 St. Laurent Blvd., Ottawa, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Mr. Robert Woodman, President
Robert J. Woodman Architect Inc.
526 Highland Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. Les Batson
Chief Building Official
City of Ottawa

PANEL

Mr. Michael Lio (Chair)
Ms. Lesia Beznaczuk
Mr. Ross Thomson

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF RULING

Thursday, October 9th, 1997

APPEARANCES

Robert Woodman, President
Robert J. Woodman Architect Inc.
The Applicant

Judy Jeske, Associate
Leber/Rubes Inc.,
Agent for the Applicant

Eric Esselink
Leber/Rubes Inc.,

RULING

  1. The Applicant Mr. Robert Woodman is a person who has applied for a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to renovate a retail shopping mall by infilling two existing floor openings by adding a glass paver floor assembly at the St. Laurent Shopping Centre, 1200 St. Laurent Blvd., Ottawa, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The St. Laurent Shopping Centre is approximately 81,290 m2 (875,000 ft2) in building area. It is two storeys in building height, with one basement level. It is constructed of noncombustible construction. The floor assemblies have a 2 h fire-resistance rating.

The Centre has several major occupancies; Group E - mercantile (retail), Group D - businesses and personal services (offices, salons and banks, etc.), Group A, Division 1 - assembly occupancies for viewing performing arts (movie theatres), and Group A, Division 2 - assembly occupancies not elsewhere classified (career training centres).

The building is equipped with a two-stage fire alarm system. It also has a sprinkler system, a standpipe and hose system, and a smoke control system in the South Court area.

The Applicant proposes to infill two existing openings between floor levels, both are located in the public corridor of the shopping centre's South Court, on either side of the main escalators. The openings are approximately 3 m by 7.5 m (10ft by 25ft) and the Applicant proposes to close these over with a floor assembly constructed of solid glass floor pavers supported by structural steel members. The guards around the existing openings will be removed.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and the Respondent is whether the glass floor paver assembly provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.2.2.45.(2) of the Ontario Building Code. Sentence 3.2.2.45.(2) requires that buildings that must comply with this provision must be of noncombustible construction and that the floor assemblies shall be fire separations with a 2 h fire-resistance rating. The subject floor assembly has not been tested against the requirements of CAN 4-S101-M, "Standard Methods for Fire Endurance Tests of Building and Construction Materials" for a two hour fire-resistance rating.

  1. Provisions of the Building Code

Sentence 3.2.2.45.(2) Mercantile Buildings, up to 6 Storeys

(2) The building shall be of noncombustible construction, and

(a) floor assemblies shall be fire separations with a fire-resistance rating of not less than 2 h, (b) mezzanines shall have a fire-resistance rating of not less than 1 h, (c) roof assemblies shall have a fire-resistance rating of not less than 1 h, and (d) all loadbearing walls, columns and arches shall have a fire-resistance rating not less than that required for the supported assembly.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the glass and steel floor assembly, in conjunction with additional safety measures, provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.2.2.45.(2). Under non-fire conditions, they note that the assembly as a whole will be designed to ensure that the structural sufficiency of the floor will meet the requirements for dead and live loads.

They have also designed the assembly to be safe in a fire. The steel members, for example, will be protected with either spray-on fire proofing, boxed gypsum board construction, or intumescent paint. Further, the path of travel on both sides of the subject floor assemblies will be at least 3 m (10 ft) from the glass pavers to the store fronts on either sides. In effect, this would create aisles on both sides of the infilled areas that would meet the standards under the OBC for kiosks in a public corridor more than 9 m wide. Occupants would therefore have an adequate path of travel in the event of an emergency.

In addition, the Applicants propose several measures to protect the glass paver assemblies. They plan to install close-spaced quick response sprinklers around the infilled areas according to 4-5.3.4 of NFPA 13. The sprinklers surrounding both glass paver assemblies will be separately zoned and electronically supervised by the fire alarm system. In conjunction with the sprinklers, they propose to install noncombustible draft stops as per NFPA 13, as well as additional smoke detectors that are designed to activate the smoke exhaust system. The Applicants are also proposing to install supplementary sprinklers below the glass floor areas to provide continuity of the Centre's sprinkler system. They note that by closing the openings in combination with these measures, occupants and fire fighters on the higher levels may in fact be more protected from fire below than previously.

The Applicants also point to the fact that the South Court area of the mall is equipped with a smoke exhaust system that is intended to reduce the spread of smoke to other parts of the building. This system will reduce smoke accumulation by venting it through the roof, which will enhance visibility and general safety during a fire.

A fire safety plan is currently being developed for the St. Laurent Shopping Centre. This plan will consider the locations and special protection for the glass floor paver assemblies. As well, a floor plan indicating these assemblies will be posted in the appropriate locations.

Finally, the Applicants note that a similar floor assembly was installed in the BCE Place in Toronto.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The respondent submitted that in the absence of test data confirming whether the glass floor paver assembly meets the CAN 4-S101-M standards, it is their belief that they do not possess the authority to approve this proposal. In their view, the infill construction should provide a 2 h fire-resistance rating as per Sentence 3.2.2.45.(2). Further, without any substantiation of the adequacy of the subject assembly, they are still requiring that the areas be provided with appropriate guards according to Clause 3.3.1.17.(1)(c).

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposed glass paver floor assembly provides sufficiency of compliance with Articles 3.2.2.45 and 3.3.1.17 of the Building Code provided:

i) quick response sprinklers are installed in accordance with NFPA 13-1991 and

ii) draft stops are installed in accordance with the requirements of the Building Code.

  1. Reasons:

i) Article 3.2.8.2. allows the first and the storey above or below it to be interconnected by virtue of an unprotected floor opening in a Group E major occupancy provided the interconnected floors are sprinklered.

ii) evidence was provided that the glass paver floor system has been designed specifically as a floor assembly and is capable of supporting required dead and live loads.

iii) the steel structure supporting the glass paver floor assembly will have a 2 hour fire resistance rating.

iv) A smoke exhaust system is installed that will enhance visibility for fire fighting and occupant evacuation.

v) the nature of the floor assembly will be documented as part of the fire safety plan.

vi) floor plans noting the glass block floor assembly will be provided at all exits used for fire fighting.

Dated at Toronto this 9th day in the month of October in the year 1997 for application number 1997-54.

Michael Lio, Chair

Lesia Beznaczuk

Ross Thomson