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BCC Ruling No. 96-50-533

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentence 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. Greg Nevison, Vice President, OMNI South Inc., City of Scarborough, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Bernie E. Roth, Chief Building Official, City of Scarborough, Ontario, to determine whether the audibility of the fire alarm system complies with Sentence of the Ontario Building Code at OMNI - Phase I, 115 Omni Drive, Scarborough, Ontario.


Mr. Greg Nevison
OMNI South Inc.
Toronto, Ontario


Mr. Bernie E. Roth
Chief Building Official
City of Scarborough


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


Toronto, Ontario


November 21st, 1996


Mr. Emilio Tesolin
Project Manager
OMNI South Inc.
Mr. Randal Brown
Randal Brown & Assoc.
For the Applicant

Mr. Bernie Roth
Chief Building Official
City of Scarborough
The Respondent
Mr. Vish Bhapkar
City of Scarborough
Mr. Andy Everingham
City of Scarborough
For the Respondent


  1. The Applicant

Mr. Greg Nevison, Vice President, OMNI South Inc. is the holder of a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct a multiple unit apartment building at 115 OMNI Drive, in Scarborough, Ontario.

  1. Description of Constrution

The subject building is a 26 storey residential building of non- combustible construction and building area of 1,020 square metres. The building is provided with a fire alarm and detection system, a voice communication system, an automatic sprinkler system, and a standpipe and hose system.

  1. Dispute

The dispute between the Applicant and the Respondent concerns sufficiency of compliance with Sentence of the Ontario Building Code. At issue is whether the fire alarm system provides high enough audibility levels in all areas of the building suites to be heard intelligibly.

  1. Provision of the Building Code

Sentence Audibility of Alarm signals

  1. Audible signal appliances forming part of a required fire alarm system shall be installed in a building so that alert signals, alarm signals and voice messages can be heard intelligibly throughout the floor area in which they are installed.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the approved electrical drawings indicated that the fire alarm devices shall be sufficiently loud to be heard above normal noise levels in the area being served, and that the alarm complies with 3.2.4. of the Building Code. The Applicant pointed out that there are no numerical values of sound pressure levels in the Building Code to define acceptable audibility levels. Audible signalling appliances are installed in corridors and in all residential suites.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that Sentence requires that the fire alarm system be intelligibly heard in all areas. Audibility limits must be based on good engineering practice, to perform the intended function of a fire alarm system; and that Sentence of the 1995 National Building Code, opinion of the Office of the Fire Marshall and Section 6.3. of the N.F.P.A. 72-1993 recommend minimum sound levels of 75dBA, 65dBA and 70dBA respectively. The Respondent recommended that a dBA of 65 or 15dBA above ambient whichever is the greater be the criteria for audibility. The fire alarm system does not satisfy this requirement in some portions of the building.

  1. Commission Ruling:

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the audibility of the fire alarm system provides sufficiency of compliance with provided that a professional engineer licensed in Ontario certifies under seal to the Building Department that alarm signals and voice messages can be heard intelligibly throughout the floor area in which they are installed.

  1. Reasons:

  1. The Building Code and the referenced documents do not provide criteria for sound pressure levels.

  1. Each residential suite and public corridors are provided with audible signal appliances.

  1. The proposals for audibility criteria are presently being circulated for public comment by the Housing Development and Buildings Branch.

Dated at Toronto, this 21st day, in the month of November, in the year 1996, for application number 1996-53.

Roy Philippe

Michael Steele

Demir Delen