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BCC Ruling No. 96-34-517

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #96-34-517

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Clause 3.2.3.7.(2)(b) 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 Ms. Elizabeth Sawicki, Manager of Development, NHD Development Limited, Woodbridge, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Mani Navabi, Chief Building Official, City of Vaughan, concerning whether lateral support clips and the supports of the lateral clip for a precast concrete wall are required to have a 2 hour fire resistance rating in accordance with Clause 3.2.3.7.(2)(b) of the Ontario Building Code at Cooper Automotive, 336 Courtland Avenue, Vaughan, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Ms. Elizabeth Sawicki
Manager of Development
NHD Developments Limited
Woodbridge, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. Mani Navabi
Chief Building Official
City of Vaughan

PANEL

Mr. Roy Philippe, Chair
Ms. Susan Friedrich
Mr. Michael Lio

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF RULING

September 11th, 1996

APPEARANCES

Mr. David Hine Project Manager
Morrison Hershfield Limited
North York, Ontario
Agent Representing Applicant

Mr. Mani Navabi, Chief Building Official
AND
Mr. Steve Penna, Plans Review Supervisor
City of Vaughan
The Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Ms. Elizabeth Sawicki, NHD Developments Limited is the holder of a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct a one storey Medium Hazard Industrial Occupancy (i.e. Group F, Division 2) at 336 Courtland Avenue, Vaughan, Ontario.

  1. Description of Constrution

The subject building has a building area of 19,500 m² comprising a single 17,900 m² storey warehouse and a 1,600 m² office component having a 1,250 m² mezzanine.

The building is designed in accordance to Article 3.2.2.55. of the Building Code which requires noncombustible construction, an automatic sprinkler system, the mezzanine floor to have 1.5 hour fire resistance rating, and the roof to have a 1.5 hour fire resistance rating.

The exterior walls of the warehouse are constructed of precast panels, each having a inherent 2 hour fire resistance rating.

The north wall of the building has a length of 155.75 m and a height of 9.25 m. The limiting distance, measured to the property line is 8 m. The percentage of unprotected openings is 22.4.

Structural clips at the top of the wall provide lateral support to the exterior wall. The protection of the lateral support clips are the subject of the dispute.

  1. Dispute

The dispute between the Applicant and Respondent concerns an interpretation of the technical requirements of Clause 3.2.3.7.(2)(b) of the Building Code. At issue is whether the lateral support clips and the supports of lateral clips for the precast concrete wall are required to have a 2 hour fire resistance rating.

  1. Provision of the Building Code

Clause 3.2.3.7.(2)(b) Construction of Exposing Building Face

  1. Except as permitted in Article 3.2.3.9., where a limiting distance shown in Table 3.2.3.B. for a Group E, or Group F, Division 1 or 2 occupancy classification is such as to permit an exposing building face to have unprotected openings of

b) more than 10 per cent but not more than 25 per cent of the exposing building face shall have a fire resistance rating of not less than 2 h, and be clad with noncombustible cladding.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the lateral supports for the precast wall assemblies at 336 Courtland Avenue simply provides lateral stability to the precast wall. The Applicant submitted the following concerning the fire rating of the lateral supports and their supporting structure:

i. In a sprinklered building, the Building Code waives the requirement for the fire resistance rating of the roof. The fire resistance rating of the structure providing the lateral support to a precast wall structure is not referenced in the Building Code as requiring a rating.

The lateral connectors and supports are located on the roof. The precast wall is self supporting in that it can bear its own weight. In the event of a fire, the sprinkler system will activate and cool the structure and lateral supports for the duration of the fire.

As part of the acceptance testing for sprinklers, the sprinklers must reduce the average ceiling temperature to less than 500 degrees F after 5 minutes of activation.

The yield temperature of steel is significantly reduced when exposed to temperatures above 1100 degrees F. Since this temperature will not fail while the sprinkler system remains in operation.

Since the Building Code acknowledges that the roof of a sprinklered building will not collapse, all structural elements are protected, especially those above the sprinklers. The need to rate the lateral connectors and the supporting structure is not required.

ii. The lateral connectors are located on the roof of the building, outside of the building and will not be exposed to a fire occurring within the building.

The need to rate the lateral connectors, since they are on the outside of the building is not required by the Building Code.

iii. Should the temperature at the ceiling be elevated to such a level that the lateral connectors begin to fail, the fire has grown to such a size that it overtaxes the sprinkler system.

The sprinkler system in the subject building has been designed based on the commodities stored within the facility and is anticipated to contain, control or extinguish a fire. The Building Code expects the sprinkler system designed to NFPA 13 to achieve the above goal.

To anticipate failure of the sprinkler system is not a reasonable expectation. If the sprinklers were not to achieve their goals, the structural steel in the building would be exposed to temperatures resulting in structural failure. Since the structure has failed, the heat energy will no longer be only radiating horizontally to the adjacent buildings, but also will radiate upwards. The impact on the adjacent properties will reduce significantly. In radiating upwards, the concern to the adjacent property is proportionately reduced.

The Applicant summarized the above by submitting that the need to protect the lateral supports of the exterior wall is neither a Building Code requirement nor is it necessary in a fully sprinklered building.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that the north elevation of the subject building requires a 2 hour fire resistance rating in accordance with Clause 3.2.3.7.(2)(b) of the Building Code. The north elevation wall is constructed of precast concrete panels laterally supported by a structural angle clip at the top of the wall which is supported by the structural frame of the building. As a result the angle clip and supporting structure is required to be rated to a 2 hour fire resistance rating.

The Respondent submitted that the Building Action Newsletter of April 1994 produced by the Housing Development and Buildings Branch, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing states that "if the exterior walls are required to have a fire resistance rating (as for spatial separation) the bracing angles must be protected for the same fire resistance rating as the walls.

The Respondent also submitted that a letter from the Code Development and Technical Training Section of the Housing Development and Buildings Branch, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to Mr. David Hine of Morrison Hershfield, states that "where the roof provides lateral support for an exterior wall required by Article 3.2.3.7. to have a fire resistance rating, Article 3.2.3.7. does not require the roof to have a fire resistance rating." Clearly, this interpretation does not address the issue of rating the supporting structural steel columns and angle clips.

The Respondent stated that the structural frame (i.e. the columns supporting the portion of the roof providing support for the lateral clips) must have a 2 hour fire resistance rating equivalent to the subject exposing building face.

  1. Commission Ruling:

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that lateral support clips and the supports of the lateral clips required for the wall having a 2 hour fire resistance rating for exposure protection does not require a 2 hour fire resistance rating in accordance with Clause 3.2.3.7.(2)(b) of the Building Code.

  1. Reasons:

i. It is the opinion of the Building Code Commission that the Building Code does not have any provision requiring lateral support connectors to be rated when a wall is required to have a fire resistance rating for spatial separation purposes.

ii. The building is equipped with a supervised sprinkler system and the fire resistance rating of the roof assembly is waived.

iii. In addition the openings in the exterior wall are less than the maximum permitted.

Dated at Toronto, this 11th day, in the month of September, in the year 1996, for application number 1996-37.

Roy Philippe

Susan Friedrich

Michael Lio