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BCC Ruling No. 97-40-582

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Article 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. Jeff Zavitz, President, Tavis-Roland (Development) Inc., Waterloo, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Anthony Krimmer, Chief Building Official, City of Waterloo, Ontario, concerning whether the proposed third floor office space provides sufficiency of compliance with Article of the Ontario Building Code at 10 Regina St. N., Waterloo, Ontario.


Mr. Jeff Zavitz
Tavis-Roland (Development) Inc.,
25 Dupont Street East
Waterloo, Ontario,


Mr. Anthony Krimmer
Chief Building Official
City of Waterloo


Mr. Roy Philippe (Chair)
Mr. Michael Steele
Mr. Ross Thomson

Toronto, Ontario


Thursday, September 11th, 1997


Mr. Mr. Jeff Zavitz
Tavis-Roland (Development) Inc.
The Applicant

Mr. Anthony Krimmer
Chief Building Official
City of Waterloo
The Respondent


  1. The Applicant

Mr. Jeff Zavitz is a person who was issued a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct a three storey, mixed-use structure at 10 Regina Street North, Waterloo, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant intends to construct a three storey, mixed-use building. The proposal indicates that the first floor is to be commercial space and the second and third floors are to be a mix of two, two-storey residential apartment units and one, two-storey Class D office unit located at the south end of the building. The building is described as having multiple occupancies; Group C - residential, Group D - business and personal services, and Group E - mercantile.

The structure will be composed of combustible construction and has an area of approximately 600 m2 (6,100 ft2). The building will contain with a fire alarm system. It will not be equipped with a sprinkler system.

  1. Dispute The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the proposed third floor office space provides sufficiency of compliance with Article of the OBC. This provision requires that Group D occupancies provide not less than two exits from each floor.

The single, two-storey office unit located on the second and third floor of the proposed building has an internal stair between floors, but provides no other stairs. The second floor of this unit is not in dispute since Sentence allows one and two storey buildings to have only one exit where the floor areas, travel distances and occupant loads conform. This provision does not apply to the third floor of the commercial unit. A second exit is required.

  1. Provisions of the Building Code Number of Required Exits

(1) Except as provided in Sentences (2) and (3) and Subsection 9.9.9., not less than 2 exits shall be provided from every floor area, spaced so that the travel distance to the nearest exit is not more than (a) 40 m (131 ft 3 in) in the case of business and personal services occupancies, (b) 45 m (147 ft 3 in) for all occupancies where the floor area is sprinklered, and (c) 30 m (98 ft 5 in) for all other occupancies. (2) Except as provided in Subsection 9.9.9., a single exit is permitted from each storey in buildings of 1 and 2 storeys in building height provided the floor are and travel distance requirements conform to those required in Article and the total occupant load served by an exit facility does not exceed 60 persons.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that while the third floor office unit is not served with a second exit, they believe that the measures they have included provide an increased level of safety that creates sufficiency of compliance with Sentence The chief measure being provided by the Applicant is an interconnected fire alarm system between all units in the building. As well, the stair connecting the second and third floors is 1.1 m (44 in) wide.

The Applicant also notes that Article allows the travel distance to the nearest exit to be up to 40 m in a Group D occupancy. The travel distance from the third floor to the fire-separated, exit stair on the second floor in the subject office space is only 18 m. Further, the occupant load will only be five persons.

The Applicant also makes a comparison with the requirements of Article They point out that the adjacent residential apartment units do not have to provide a second exit. They argue that if Article allows residents, who may be sleeping, in a residential unit to travel down one storey to reach an exit stair, then the same standard could be applied to a low occupancy office unit that operates only during daytime hours.

Sentence (2) of Article further allows that the travel limit from a floor level in a dwelling unit to an exit door may exceed one storey where that floor has an openable window of certain dimensions and a sill not higher than 1 m from the floor and not higher than 7 m from the ground level outside. In the case of the subject office unit, the Applicant notes that the second floor is served by both a french balcony 4 m above the ground level and the fire-separated exit stair.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that the third storey, Group D occupancy, with a floor area of 54 m2 is required to have 2 exits in accordance with Sentence

They also submitted that they did not have the jurisdiction to approve the Applicant's measures to provide sufficiency of compliance.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the third floor office space provides sufficiency of compliance with Article of the Ontario Building Code provided that interconnected smoke alarms are installed at each floor level within the two storey office suite near the connecting stair in conformance with Subsection 9.10.18.

  1. Reasons

i) The size of the 2 storey suite is small (approximately 60 m2) per floor level and the occupant load is low.

ii) The suite is separated from the remainder of the building by a fire separation having a 3/4 hour fire resistance rating.

iii) The travel distance from any point in a suite to an exterior exit door is approximately 18 m.

iv) Additional interconnected smoke detection is provided in the suite.

v) It is the opinion of the Building Code Commission that the two storey suite exit does provides a lesser risk to the occupants of the "D" occupancy than a dwelling unit in a residential occupancy of a similar configuration which would comply with the Ontario Building Code.

Dated at Toronto this 11th day in the month of September in the year 1997 for application number 1997-47.

Roy Philippe, Chair

Michael Steele

Ross Thomson