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BCC Ruling No. 96-36-519

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #96-36-519

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentences 3.4.2.1.(1), 3.4.4.1.(1), 3.4.4.2.(2) & 3.5.3.1.(1) and Clause 3.4.4.2.(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 Mr. Gary McCluskie, Architect, A.J. Diamond, Donald Schmitt and Company, Architects, Toronto for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Palle D. Hansen, Chief Building Official, The Corporation of the City of York, concerning three issues: i) Interpretation of the technical requirements of Sentences 3.4.2.1.(1), 3.4.4.1.(1), and 3.4.4.2.(2). At issue is the proposed use of Stair No. 1 as an exit through a lobby, to provide one of the required exits to serve the basement and second floor, in addition to the ground floor. ii) Sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of Clause 3.4.4.2.(2)(b). At issue is the maximum path of travel of 16.45 m from the entry into the lobby at the second floor level to the exterior exit door at ground level. iii) Sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of Sentence 3.5.3.1.(1) and Table 3.5.3.A. At issue is the use of unlabelled elevator doors on the ground floor and second floor entrances into the elevator car.

APPLICANT

Mr. Gary McCluskie
Architect
A.J. Diamond, Donald Schmitt and Company
Architects
Toronto, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. Palle D. Hansen
Chief Building Official
City of York

PANEL

Mr. Roy Philippe, Chair
Mr. Rick Florio
Mr. Demir Delen

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF RULING

August 23, 1996

APPEARANCES

Mr. Peter Colquhoun
Ashton, Director
Consultant in Fire
Safety and Codes
ARENCON INC.
Mississauga, Ontario
For the Applicant

Mr. Bruce
Admin. & Plans Examination
City of York
For the Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Gary McCluskie, Architect, A.J. Diamond, Donald Schmitt and Company, Architects, is an applicant for a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct a new two storey library building at the corner of Oakwood Avenue and Holland Park Avenue, City of York, Ontario.

  1. Description of Constrution

The proposed building is a new library (Group A, Division 2), for the City of York. The building is two storeys is building height with one basement. The building area is approximately 505 m?.

The ground floor and second floor accommodate the library collection and library functions. The basement has a multipurpose room, two small classrooms, public washrooms and service spaces. The multipurpose room and classrooms may be used as part of the library programming or for community functions and activities. One passenger elevator serves the basement, ground and second floors.

Construction is proposed to be of noncombustible construction and the building will be protected by a supervised automatic sprinkler system and a fire alarm system. The fire alarm system is designed to transmit a signal to the fire department on activation of an alarm initiating device.

The ground floor (first storey) and second floor are an interconnected floor space conforming to Sentence 3.2.8.2.(6) of the Building Code.

The lobby at the front of the building adjacent to the main entrance incorporates Stair No. 1 which provides one of the required exits from each of the second floor, the ground floor and the basement.

The path of travel to the outdoors from the basement is approximately 11 m. The path of travel from the entry into the lobby at the second floor level down Stair No. 1 to the outdoors at the ground floor level is approximately 16.75 m.

The elevator doors opening into the ground floor and second floors are within an interconnected floor space conforming to Sentence 3.2.8.2.(6) of the Building Code. The elevator doors on the ground floor and second floor are proposed to contain wired glass in the steel elevator door frame.

  1. Dispute

The subject dispute involves the following three issues:

i. Interpretation of the technical requirements of Sentences 3.4.2.1.(1), 3.4.4.1.(1), and 3.4.4.2.(2) of the Building Code. At issue is the proposed use of Stair No. 1 as an exit through a lobby, to provide one of the required exits to serve the basement and second floor, in addition to the ground floor.

ii. Sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of Clause 3.4.4.2.(2)(b) of the Building Code. At issue is the maximum path of travel of 16.45 m from the entry into the lobby at the second floor level to the exterior exit door at ground level.

iii. Sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of Sentence 3.5.3.1.(1) and Table 3.5.3.A. of the Building Code. At issue is the use of unlabelled elevator doors on the ground floor and second floor entrances into the elevator car.

  1. Provision of the Building Code

Sentence 3.4.2.1.(1) Minimum Number of Exits

1. Except as provided in Sentences (2) to (4), and (6), every floor area as regulated in Article 3.4.1.1. shall be served by not less than 2 exits.

Sentence 3.4.4.1.(1) Fire-Resistance Rating of Exit Separations

    1. Except as provided in Article 3.4.4.3. and Sentences (2), 3.3.5.5.(3) and 3.4.4.2.(2), every exit shall be separated from each adjacent floor area by a fire separation having a fire resistance rating not less than that required for the floor assembly above the floor area and, where there is no floor assembly above, not less than that required by Subsection 3.2.2. for the floor assembly below, but in no case shall the fire resistance rating be less than 45 min.

Sentence 3.4.4.2.(2) Exits Through Lobbies

    1. Not more than 1 exit from a floor area is permitted to lead through a lobby provided

a. the lobby floor is not more than 4.5 m (14 ft 9 in) above grade,

b. the path of travel through the lobby to the outdoors is not more than 15 m (49 ft 3 in),

c. the adjacent rooms or premises having direct access to the lobby do not contain a Group C or F occupancy,

d. except as required in Clause (g), the lobby is not located within an interconnected floor space other than as described in Sentence 3.2.8.2.(6),

e. the lobby conforms to the requirements for exits, except that

i. rooms other than service rooms and storage rooms may open onto the lobby,

ii. the fire separation between the lobby and a room used for the sole purpose of control and supervision of the building need not have a fire resistance rating, and

iii. the fire separation between the lobby and adjacent occupancies that are permitted to open onto the lobby need not have a fire- resistance rating when the lobby and adjacent occupancies are sprinklered,

f. the fire separation required in Sentence 3.4.4.1.(1) shall be maintained between the exit and the lobby, and

g. that if the exit serves a hotel, the lobby is not located within an interconnected floor space.

Sentence 3.5.3.1.(1) Fire Separations for Vertical Service Spaces

  1. Except as provided in Sentence (2), every vertical service space shall be separated from each adjacent floor area by a fire separation having fire-resistance rating conforming to Table 3.5.3.A. for the fire-resistance rating required for the floor assembly above, conforming to that required by Subsection 3.2.2. for the floor assembly below.

  1. Applicant's Position

Issue 1: Stair No. 1, Exit Through a Lobby

The Applicant submitted that the exit through the lobby complies with the technical requirements of Sentences 3.4.4.1.(1) and 3.4.4.2.(2) as an exit through a lobby serving the basement, ground floor and second floors of the Oakwood Library.

Stair No. 2 is a conventional enclosed exit stair, separated from the remainder of the building by a 45 min fire separation, discharging directly to the outdoors at the ground level at the rear of the building.

Stair No.1 is contained within a lobby which provides the second exit from each storey (basement, ground and second floors) and discharges to the outdoors at the ground level at the front of the building adjacent to the main entrance. The Applicant submitted that the requirements of Sentence 3.4.4.2.(2) of the Building Code have been met.

The Applicant submitted that the lobby is used solely for access to, and egress from, the basement, ground and second floors. There is no furniture or equipment located in the lobby, and no fire load.

Issue 2: Path of Travel Through the Lobby

The Applicant submitted that the path of travel through the lobby provides sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of Clause 3.4.4.2.(2)(b) of the Building Code based on the design of a shallower sloped, safer stair.

The Applicant submitted the following to support his position:

The path of travel through the lobby from the second floor to the outdoors at the ground floor level is approximately 16.45 m, which exceeds the 15 m permitted by Clause 3.4.4.2.92)(b) of the Building Code.

The 15 m limit on the path of travel through a lobby is intended to limit the exposure of occupants to hazards in an occupancy adjacent to the lobby under emergency evacuation conditions. Stair No. 1 has a rise of 158 mm and a run of 250 mm exclusive of nosing. These dimensions provide a shallower sloped stair than that based on the maximum riser height and the minimum run permitted by the Building Code. A stair design for Stair No. 1 based on the minimum run of 230 mm and maximum rise of 200 mm permitted by Sentences 3.4.6.7.(1) and (2) would result in reduction of the maximum path of travel through the lobby to the outdoors at ground level that does not exceed 15 m in compliance with Clause 3.4.4.2.(2)(b) of the Building Code.

However, research has shown that stairs with a shallow slope provide a safer path of travel. This research has led to changes in the 1995 National BuildIng Code of Canada to require shallower maximum slopes for exit stairs (i.e. minimum run of 280 mm and maximum rise of 180 mm).

Stair No. 1 is the main means for the public to access the basement and the second floor of the library. A shallower slope of stair with lower risers and wider treads are proposed to provide a comfortable stair for use by the public in this relaxed library setting. A stair with a shallower slope provides a safer, more efficient stair for normal occupant use and for emergency evacuation.

The increase in path of travel through the lobby of 1.45 m (over the 15 m permitted by Clause 3.4.4.2.(2)(b)) represents an insignificant increase in the time required for occupant evacuation (approximately 1 second), which will be offset by an increase in safety for users of the Stair No. 1.

Issue 3: Wired Glass in Nonlabelled Doors

The Applicant submitted that the use of Wired Glass in nonlabelled elevator doors at the ground and second floor level provides sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of Clause 3.2.2.21.(2)(a) and Sentence 3.2.8.2.(6) of the Building Code and that the elevator shaft in this building is not considered as a vertical service space.

The Applicant submitted that the elevator doors on the ground floor ad second floor will contain wired glass in a steel elevator door. Each pane of wired glass will not exceed 0.84 m? in accordance with the area limitations in Clause 3.1.8.14.(2) of the Building Code. The elevator manufacturers who have submitted bids for the project, have advised the architects that they cannot provide labelled elevator doors containing wired glass as they have not tested such doors.

The Applicant submitted that the elevator doors opening into the ground floor and second floors are within an interconnected floor space conforming to Sentence 3.2.8.2.(6) of the Building Code. The Applicant proposed to consider the elevator shaft below the ground floor slab, as part of the ground floor fire compartment, separated from the remainder of the basement by a 45 min fire separation - the same as is required between the basement and the ground floor. As the ground floor and the second floor are interconnected, they can be considered the same fire compartment, including the elevator shaft. The elevator shaft, in this approach, is not considered as a vertical space.

The Applicant further submitted that in other situations where supervision and security concerns, such as rapid transit stations, elevators are permitted to be enclosed by either 1 h fire separations, or wired glass assemblies.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted the following information to support the municipalities position:

Reference to Sentence 3.4.2.1.(1)

Since the occupant load of each of the floor areas exceeds 60 persons, two exits are required to serve each floor area. Exceptions referenced in the Sentence do not apply for this project.

Reference to Sentence 3.4.4.2.(1)

The basic principle of this Sentence is that any required exit serving a floor area, other than the first storey, must not lead through a lobby. An exit means that part of a means of egress that leads from the floor area it serves, to a separate building, an open public thoroughfare, or an exterior open space protected from fire exposure from the building and having access to an open public thoroughfare.

This Sentence also provides a direct indication that a "lobby" is considered as part of the first floor area since an exit serving the first floor is permitted to lead through a lobby. Lobby has the meaning of "entrance hall" or " passageway" which serves to provide a common area for access to or from a building. It is not the intent of the Code to treat an exit stair, (stairway), which extends through all floor levels of the building as a "lobby".

Reference to Sentence 3.4.4.2.(2)

This Sentence provides the exception to the preceding Sentence to permit one exit from a floor level, in addition to an exit serving the first storey, to lead through a lobby. The Clauses contained in the Sentence provide specific requirements that the lobby must meet in order to maintain the integrity of any exit leading through it. It is clear that the "exit" and the "lobby" are separate entities, each with specific requirements related to their purpose.

Reference to Clause 3.4.4.2.(2)(a)

The floor of the lobby is permitted to be a maximum of 4.5 m above grade. This clause provides for the relationship between the floor level at which point one normally leaves the floor area to gain the protection of an exit enclosure, and the level outside of the building presumed to be safe and clear of the building. This Clause also clearly states that this exception does not apply to below grade levels.

Reference to Clause 3.4.4.2.(2)(b)

The path of travel for a person exiting the building is limited to 15 m. This Clause provides for an acceptable distance in which a person exiting a floor area is doing so through a lobby which provides a reduced level of protection from that for the exit enclosure.

Reference to Clause 3.4.4.2.(2)(d)

In the case of a library use building, a lobby through which an exit leads is not permitted to be located within an interconnected floor space except where the interconnected floor space meets the limitations of Sentence 3.2.8.2.(6). Clause (a) of Sentence 3.2.8.2.(6) provides specific requirements which limit the interconnected floor space to not more than two storeys, one of which must consist of the first storey. It is clear that the interconnection of floor levels is not to include all the levels of the subject building. The proposed lobby concept would not comply with the interconnected floor space requirements.

Reference to Clause 3.4.4.2.(2)(e)

This Clause requires that the lobby provide a level of design conforming to that of an exit with exceptions to permit specific low hazard ancillary uses within the lobby as long as the lobby and adjacent ancillary uses are sprinklered. This Clause further supports the contention that a lobby is not an exit, but can be used to provide for the continuation of an exit under very specific and restrictive conditions.

National Building Code 1995 - Appendix A-3.4.4.2.(2)(e)

Requirements for Lobby. If an exit is permitted to lead through a lobby, the lobby must provide a level of protection approaching that of the exit. As well as meeting the width and height requirements for exits, the lobby must be separated from the remainder of the building by a fire separation having a fire resistance rating at least equal to that required for the exit, unless one of the exceptions in this Clause applied.

Reference to Clause 3.4.4.2.(2)(f)

This Clause serves to maintain the minimum standards for the fire protection of exits as contained in Sentence 3.4.4.1.(1). This Clause also provides for a clear distinction between "exit" and a "lobby".

Exit Requirements - Reference to Article 3.4.4.1.

This Article provides basic requirements for fire resistance ratings for exit separations. This Article also applies to all exits. Sentence (1) of the Article provides an exception for the requirement for a fire separation having a fire resistance rating between the lobby serving an exit, ("a lobby is to conform to the requirements for exits") and each adjacent floor area. If read correctly, this Sentence permits the relaxation of the requirements for fire resistance ratings for fire separations between the lobby, which serves as an exit, and specifically permitted ancillary occupancies, (rooms used for the sole purpose of control and supervision of the building). The last portion of the Sentence clearly indicates the need to maintain a minimum fire resistance rating between the exit and the lobby as further referenced in Clause 3.4.4.2.(2)(f). The Building Code draws a clear distinction between a "lobby" and an "exit", with a higher level of fire protection being required to ensure the integrity of the exit facility.

National Building Code – Guidelines for the Application of Part 3 - Protection of Exit Facilities

The fundamental need to protect an exit facility is to ensure that it will not be invaded by fire products of combustion during the time that it is being used for the excavation of the building occupants and its availability for fire fighters attempting to suppress the fire and assisting occupants to evacuate the building. As a result of a minimum standard established for the protection of exits, it is not acceptable to have an exit stair open to adjacent storeys.

Elevator Shaft

Sentence 3.2.8.1.(2) of the Building Code clearly identifies a specific concern regarding penetrations of floor assemblies by exits and vertical service spaces.

Vertical service spaces are described as shafts for mechanical and electrical services that pass from floor to floor including hoistways for elevators. The elevator shaft is required to be protected from the effects of a fire in the adjacent library stacks floor areas, which could potentially contribute a considerable fire load. Likewise, the adjacent floor areas are to be protected from a fire in the service space. Sentence 3.5.3.1.(1) and Table 3.5.3.A. specifically require a minimum 45 minute fire resistance rated elevator shaft even though the fire resistance rating of the floor assembly which it penetrates is zero. The Building Code, under Subsection 3.1.8. requires all fire separations to be continuous and any openings within the fire separation are to provide a proven level of protection of the opening in order to maintain the continuity. The use of unlabelled elevator doors serving the first and second storeys is not consistent with the Code requirements.

  1. Commission Ruling:

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that:

i. The current design of the proposed exit Stair No. 1 does not comply with the requirements of Sentences 3.4.2.1.(1), 3.4.4.1.(1), and 3.4.4.2.(2) of the Building Code without the required fire separations.

ii. An exit enclosure for Stair No. 1 conforming to Sentence 3.1.8.14.(2) of the Building Code provides sufficiency of compliance with the required 45 minute fire separation.

iii. The use of unlabelled elevator doors containing wired glazing on the ground floor and second floor located within the interconnected floor space provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 3.5.3.1.(1) and Table 3.5.3.A. of the Building Code.

  1. Reasons:

i. The argument that a lobby is part of the exit which leads into it, and as such, need not be separated from the exit shaft is in the opinion of the Building Code Commission not in accordance with the required fire resistance rating of the exit enclosure that must be provided between the lobby and the exit shaft.

ii. The principal of protection from fire exposure when entering an exit stair is clearly enunciated in Sentence 3.4.4.1.(1) of the Building Code.

iii. It is the opinion of the Building Code Commission that the use of wired glazing other than the area limitations in Table 3.1.8.B. of the Building Code provided an acceptable level of safety since travel distance from any point on the second floor and basement to the exterior is less than 45 m.

Dated at Toronto, this 23rd day, in the month of August, in the year 1996, for application number 1996-39.

Roy Philippe

Rick Florio

Demir Delen