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BCC Ruling No. 97-25-567

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #97-25-567

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentences 3.4.6.4.(4) and 3.4.6.4.(5) 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. Marty Koshman, Facilities Manager, Newbridge Networks Corporation, 600 March Road, Kanata, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Kaz Mosielski, Chief Building Official, City of Kanata, concerning whether the proposed height of the handrails at the landing of the exit stairways provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentences 3.4.6.4.(4) and 3.4.6.4.(5) of the Ontario Building Code (OBC) at 600 March Road, City of Kanata, Ontario.

APPLICANT
Mr. Marty Koshman, Facilities Manager
Newbridge Networks Corporation
600 March Road
Kanata, Ontario

RESPONDENT
Mr. Kaz Mosielski
Chief Building Official
City of Kanata

PANEL
Mr. Michael Lio, Chair
Mr. Douglas Clancey
Mr. Cliff Youdale

PLACE
Ottawa, Ontario

DATE OF RULING
Thursday, July 3rd, 1997

APPEARANCES
Mr. Gordon Krieg
Pye & Richards Architects Inc.
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Idwal Richards
Pye & Richards Architects Inc.
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Tim Stewart
Building Inspector
City of Kanata
For the Respondent

Mr. Kaz Mosielski
Chief Building Official
City of Kanata
For the Respondent

RULING

The Applicant

Mr. Marty Koshman, Facilities Manager, Newbridge Networks Corporation, is a person who has received a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to renovate a 3 and 6 storey office building by constructing a 3 and 10 storey addition to the building at Newbridge Networks Corporation, City of Kanata, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Newbridge Networks Corporation office is made of noncombustible construction. The existing building is 3 and 6 storeys and the addition is a 3 and 10 storey structure. The areas of the existing and new portions of the building are 13 082 m2 and 24 250 m2 respectively. The structure has a standpipe and hose system and a fire alarm system. It does not have a sprinkler system. The building is classified as having Group D (office) use as its major occupancy.

  1. Dispute

The issue under dispute between the Applicant and the Respondent is whether the handrail height at the landings of the exit stairs provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentences 3.4.6.4.(4) and 3.4.6.4.(5). Sentence 3.4.6.4.(4) sets minimum (800 mm [2 ft 7 in]) and maximum (920 mm [3 ft]) heights for handrails on stairs. In addition, Sentence 3.4.6.4.(5) requires that at least one handrail in a stairway be continuous throughout, except where it may be interrupted for a doorway or a newel. The height of the continuous handrails in dispute, as measured to the floor of the landings in the new addition of the Newbridge Networks Corporation building, is 1 070 mm. In the stairways of this addition there are handrails on both the wall side and the open stair side. It is the open stair side that has the continuous handrail.

  1. Provisions of the Building Code

3.4.6.4. Handrails

(4) Handrails on stairs and ramps shall be not less than 800 mm (2 ft 7 in) and not more than 920 mm (3 ft) high, measured vertically from a line drawn through the outside edges of the stair nosing or from the surface of the ramp, except that handrails not meeting these requirements are permitted provided they are installed in addition to the required handrail.

(5) Except as required in Sentence (9), at least one handrail shall be continuous throughout the length of a stairway including landings except where the handrail is interrupted by doorways or newels at changes in direction. (See Appendix A.)

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the handrails as designed and built meet all the requirements and the intent of the relevant provisions of the OBC. The height of the handrails on both sides, as measured on the stairs themselves, is 920 mm (3 ft), which is consistent with Sentence 3.4.6.4.(4). The handrails on the wall side extend horizontally for 300 mm (11 3/4 in) at the top and bottom of the stairs over the landings. This too, they note, is consistent with the Code, in particular, Sentence 3.4.6.4.(7).

Regarding the railing at the open stair side, it is their view that the Code does not stipulate that the continuous railing is required to have a consistent height throughout the length of the stairway. Sentence 3.4.6.4.(5) simply states that at least one handrail should be continuous. As the Code does not specifically require consistency of height for the continuous railing, they believe that the subject railings satisfy Sentence 3.4.6.4.(5). They note that many other buildings in the area are designed the same way.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that the height of the continuous handrail at the landings is inconsistent with the handrail height on the stairs. They believe this discrepancy may cause problems for blind and visually impaired persons using these stairs. In particular, they feel that a handrail height at the landing level not consistent with that of the stairs may mean that such individuals would have difficulty determining the height of the first and last risers in a flight. Indeed, this height inconsistency would not make apparent when the stairs, in relation to the landings, actually begin and end. Since the handrails in the stairways of the addition to the Newbridge Networks Corporation building are not of uniform height, the Respondent is of the view that they contravene Sentences 3.4.6.4.(4) and 3.4.6.4.(5) of the OBC.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the handrail on the stairs complies with the requirements of the Building Code.

  1. Reasons:

Construction drawings indicate that the handrail would provide sufficient warning to visually impaired individuals of changes in direction and in determining where stairs begin and end.

Dated at Ottawa this 3rd day in the month of July in the year 1997 for application number 1997-34.

Michael Lio, Chair

Douglas Clancey

Cliff Youdale