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BCC Ruling No. 96-31-514

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #96-31-514

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Article 3.9.3.7. of the Revised Regulation of Ontario 1990, Regulation 61, as amended by O.Regs. 400/91, 158/93, 160/93, 383/94 and 20/95 (the "Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. Jeff Kistner, Manager HVAC & Electrical, Ontario Electrical Construction Company Ltd., Toronto for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Dennis Y. Perlin, Chief Building Official (Acting), City of Toronto, concerning whether the use of gas fired sealed combustion heaters mounted within 4.2 metres of an egress doorway in a portable classroom without a 1.5 hour fire separation between the appliance and the classroom provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 3.9.3.7. of the Building Code at the North Preparatory School Portable, 1100 Spadina Road, Toronto, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Mr. Jeff Kistner Manager HVAC & Electrical
Ontario Electrical Construction Company Ltd.
Toronto, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. Dennis Y. Perlin
Chief Building Official (Acting)
City of Toronto

PANEL

Mr. Roy Philippe, Chair
Mr. Michael Lio
Mr. Demir Delen

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF RULING

June 25, 1996

APPEARANCES

Mr. R.T. Tamblyn, P.Eng.
Engineering Interface Ltd.
For the Applicant

Mr. George Vrachas, Manager
Plan Examiner
City of Toronto
For the Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Jeff Kistner, Manager HVAC & Electrical, Ontario Electrical Construction Company Ltd., Toronto is the recipient of an order to comply under the Building Code Act, 1992 concerning the installation of six gas fired heating appliances installed in each of two portable classrooms at the North Preparatory School, 1100 Spadina Road, Toronto, Ontario.

  1. Description of Constrution

The subject buildings are two existing portable classrooms. They each have a building area of approximately 71 m² (768 ft²).

The Applicant replaced existing electric baseboard heaters with new natural gas sealed combustion heaters.

  1. Dispute

The dispute between the Applicant and Respondent concerns sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of Article 3.9.3.7. of the Building Code. At issue is the use of gas fired sealed combustion heaters mounted within 4.2 metres of an egress doorway in a portable classroom without a 1.5 hour fire separation between the appliance and the classroom.

  1. Provision of the Building Code

Article 3.9.3.7. Fuel-Fired Appliances

  1. Except as provided in Sentence (2), where a portable classroom contains a fuel-fired appliance, the appliance shall be separated from the remainder of the classroom by a fire separation having a fire-resistance rating of not less than

    1. 1.5 h where the horizontal distance between portable classrooms is 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) or less, and
    2. 45 min where the horizontal distance between portable classrooms is more than 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) but less than 6 m (19 ft 4 in).

  1. Where the horizontal distance between portable classrooms is 6 m (19 ft 4 in) or more, a fuel-fired appliance need not be separated from the remainder of the classroom by a fire- separation provided

a. there is not more than 1 appliance per portable classroom, and

b. the appliance is located not less than 4.5 m (14 ft 9 in) from an egress doorway or an exit from the portable classroom.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that a building permit was issued by the Respondent on August 15, 1995 to permit the installation of gas fired baseboard heating units in two portable classrooms at the North Preparatory School. The subject portable classrooms are approximately 10 feet apart.

The Applicant submitted that an order to comply was issued on April 19, 1996 requiring removal of the gas fired baseboard heating units by May 15, 1996.

The Applicant submitted that they wish to use gas fired sealed combustion heaters in lieu of the various types of electrical heat used in the Metro Toronto School Board portables. The features of the unit include:

  • fire and gas monitor protection
  • sealed combustion with no open flame to ignite a combustible gas
  • regular maintenance
  • dramatic saving in energy cost
  • mounting will be more than 4.2 m from an exit
  • maximum exit distance is 4.5 m
  • certification by CSA and CGA

Also, the Applicant stated that gas detectors and smoke alarms are provided in the classroom portables.

The Applicant submitted that open flame type gas fired units are used in other school classrooms and residences where children are present and exit distances are longer and where regular maintenance is not necessarily present.

The Applicant further submitted that they realize that gas fired appliances may be used if located in closets with appropriate fire resistance ratings. However, the closet requires to much space and destroys the economics. The Applicant requested the Commission approve the use of the baseboard heaters installed in the portables at the North Preparatory School.

Alternatively, the Applicant requested the Commission permit the use of one "hi boy" unit instead of the gas baseboard units.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that the Applicant has installed six fuel (gas) fired heating appliances in each of two portable classrooms in contravention of Article 3.9.3.7. of the Building Code.

The Respondent submitted that there is more than one appliance in each portable. A total of six per portable have been installed. Also, an appliance is located closer than 4.5 m from the exit doorways from the portable in each of the two units.

The Respondent further submitted that the Applicant does not wish to construct a fire separation between the appliance and the remainder of the classroom.

Also, the Respondent expressed concern that the exhaust cup (outlet) is hot and appears to be a hazard to children.

  1. Commission Ruling:

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the installation of the fuel fired appliances installed in the portable classrooms does not comply with Article 3.9.3.7. of the Building Code.

  1. Reasons:

i. The distance between the portable classrooms is less than 6 m.

ii. These systems have not been used extensively in portable classrooms.

iii. It is the opinion of the Building Code Commission that alternatives presented did not demonstrate sufficiency of compliance with the Building Code.

iv. It is the opinion of the Building Code Commission that this issue should be reviewed through the Building Code amendment process to consider this technology for use in portable classrooms.

Dated at Toronto, this 25th day, in the month of June, in the year 1996, for application number 1996-31.

Roy Philippe

Michael Lio

Demir Delen