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BCC Ruling No. 96-51-534

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Clause 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. Art Welter, Manager, Devan Properties Ltd., Toronto, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. L.D. Simonato, Chief Building Official, City of Cambridge, Ontario, to determine whether Fire alarm signals which are not activated simultaneously but which activate in other portions of a commercial mall within no more than 5 minutes provides sufficiency of compliance with Subsection 3.2.4. of the Ontario Building Code at Cambridge Centre, 355 Hespeler Road, Cambridge, Ontario.


Mr. Art Welter
Devan Properties Ltd
Toronto, Ontario


Mr. L.D. Simonato
Chief Building Official
City of Cambridge


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


Toronto, Ontario


November 21st, 1996


Mr. Art Welter

Devan Properties Ltd
The Applicant
Mr. Ian Joffe
Hammerschlag & Joffe Inc.
Mr. Eldin Rostum
Petroff Partners
For the Applicant

Mr. Larry Simonato
City of Cambridge
The Respondent
Mr. David Carrol
City of Cambridge
For the Respondent


  1. The Applicant

Mr. Art Welter, Development Manager, for Devan Properties Ltd. is the holder of a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to provide a two stage fire alarm system in a shopping mall known as the "Cambridge Centre" located at 355 Hespeler Road, Cambridge, Ontario.

  1. Description of Constrution

The subject building is a shopping mall of non-combustible construction with a gross floor area of 46,451 square metres (500,00 sq.ft.) consisting of 2 "anchor" tenants and a mall. The mall has a fire alarm system and the two anchor tenants have separate fire alarm systems all interconnected to act as a single system. The two stage system is intended to operate such that alarm signals activated in anchor tenants or the mall only operate in the portion of the building in which the alarm was originated and thereafter in the rest of the complex within 5 minutes if not acknowledged or an alarm initiating device is activated.

  1. Dispute

The dispute is whether the sequence of operation of the fire alarm system, which is as follows, complies with the Building Code:

  • alert signals in the mall or any anchor store will indicate a trouble signal in other panels;
  • alarm signals in the mall or any anchor store will initiate alert signals in other areas;
  • the mall or the anchor stores will go to alarm signals if alert signals are not acknowledged within 5 minutes or when a second stage device is activated.

  1. Provision of the Building Code

Sentence Description of Fire Alarm Systems

2. A 2 stage fire alarm system shall

  1. cause an alert signal to sound upon the operation of any manual pull station or fire detector,
  2. except for Group B, Division 2 major occupancies, automatically cause an alarm signal to sound if the alert signal is not acknowledged within 5 min of its initiation,
  3. have each manual pull station equipped so that the use of a key or other similar device causes an alarm signal to sound and continue to sound upon the removal of the key or similar device from the manual pull station, and

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that based on the past performance of this type of two stage fire alarm system in numerous existing facilities, the system provides sufficiency of compliance with subsection 3.2.4. of the Building Code. The Applicant further submitted that the alarm system enables the fire department to know where the fire originated, provides back-up in the case of major emergencies that may disable one panel.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that: the operation of the alert signal will sound in one component of the building only, not throughout the total building; after the first 5 minutes the alarm signal will be sounded in that component only; once this happens an alert signal will be sent to the remaining parts of the building; and, after a further 5 minutes the alarm signal will sound in the total building. In total this system would initiate a total evacuation after 10 minutes in the total building unless the alarm signal is manually activated. Sentence states that when the alarm signal is sounded it shall be heard throughout the total floor area in which it is installed.

  1. Commission Ruling:

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the two stage fire alarm system provides sufficiency of compliance with subsection 3.2.4. of the Building Code.

  1. Reasons:

i. The building Fire alarm system is consistent with industry practice for buildings of this type and size.

ii. The definition of alarm or alert signal is not limited to activation throughout the building.

iii. The activation of the alert signal in a specific zone will cause a trouble signal in the adjacent zones.

iv. The building fire alarm system is monitored by a central monitoring station.

Dated at Toronto, this 21st day, in the month of November, in the year 1996, for application number 1996-56.

Roy Philippe

Michael Steele

Demir Delen