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BCC Ruling No. 95-52-472

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #95-52-472

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Articles 3.3.3.9. & 3.2.4.12. of the Revised Regulation of Ontario 1990, Regulation 61, as amended by O.Regs. 400/91, 158/93, 160/93, 355/94 and 20/95 (the "Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Ms. Mary Welsh, Darlington Court Development Inc. for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Doug Ferguson, Chief Building Official, City of Brantford, concerning whether not providing smoke detectors and sprinkler heads in the prisoner cell areas and prisoner holding areas, and not providing sprinklers in the prisoner elevator shafts provide sufficiency of compliance with Articles 3.3.3.9. and 3.2.4.12. of the Ontario Building Code, at Ontario Court of Justice (Provincial Division), 44 Queen Street, Brantford, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Darlington Court Developments Inc.
Brantford, Ontario.

RESPONDENT

Mr. Doug Ferguson
Chief Building Official
City of Brantford

PANEL

Mr. Roy Philippe, Chair
Mr. Michael Lio
Mr. Kenneth Bacon

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF RULING

November 10th, 1995

APPEARANCES

Mr. Robin K.F. Ng, Principal
Ng Chee Architects
AND
Mr. Jim Farnworth, Inspector
Brantford Police Service
For the Applicant

Mr. Doug Ferguson
Chief Building Official
AND
Mr. Jack Schut
Deputy Chief Building Official
City of Brantford
The Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Ms. Mary Welsh, Owner, Darling Court Developments Inc., is the holder of a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct a two storey courthouse building at 44 Queen Street, Brantford, Ontario.

  1. Description of Constrution

The subject building is a newly constructed two storey courthouse with a partial basement. It is of noncombustible construction and has a building area of 1,468 m? (15,801 ft?) and is provided with a fire alarm system. Prisoners' areas are located on the main floor of the building. An elevator is provided within these areas to transport prisoners to and from the courtrooms on the second floor. Automatic sprinklers and smoke detectors are installed in the detention areas.

  1. Dispute

The dispute between the Applicant and Respondent concerns sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of Articles 3.3.3.9. and 3.2.4.12. of the Building Code. At issue is whether not providing smoke detectors and sprinkler heads in the prisoner cell areas and prisoner holding areas, and not sprinklering the prisoner elevator shafts provide sufficiency of compliance with the Building Code, at Ontario Court Justice (Provincial Division), 44 Queen Street, Brantford, Ontario.

  1. Provision of the Building Code

Articles 3.2.4.12. Smoke Detectors

  1. Where a fire alarm system is required, smoke detectors shall be installed in

    1. every sleeping room and corridor in portions of buildings classified as Group B major occupancy,
    2. every room in a contained use area and corridors serving those rooms
    3. every corridor in portions of buildings classified as Group A, Division 1 major occupancy,
    4. every public corridor in portions of buildings classified as Group C major occupancy,
    5. every exit stair shaft, and
    6. every corridor serving classrooms in elementary and secondary schools.

Articles 3.3.3.9. Contained Use Areas

  1. A contained use area shall conform to Sentences (2) to (5).

  1. A contained use area shall be separated from the remainder of the building by a fire separation having a fire-resistance rating of not less than 1 h.

  1. Except as permitting in Sentence (5), a contained use area shall be sprinklered.

  1. The actuation of the sprinkler system required by Sentence (3) shall initiate an alert signal or an alarm signal on the fire alarm system.

  1. A contained use area is not required to be sprinklered as required by Sentence (3) if

  1. the building is designed so that during a period of 2 h after the start of a fire in the contained use area, other fire compartments will not contain more than 1 per cent by volume of contaminated air from the contained use area.
  2. the building is designed so that during a period of 2 h after the start of a fire in another part of the building, the contained use area will not contain more than 1 per cent by volume of contaminated air from the other part of the building,
  3. all doors are designed to be remotely released in conformance with Sentence 3.3.1.12.(2), and
  4. the contained use area does not contain any rooms lined with combustible padding.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted the following comments to support the removal of the sprinkler heads and heat/smoke detectors:

    1. The detention cells at 44 Queen Street are not used for the overnight lodging of prisoners. All prisoners in custody will be under active visual observation, either personally or video, monitoring by Court Security Special Constables employed and trained by the Brantford Police Service.

    1. The placement of sprinkler heads and heat/smoke detectors in detention cells within the physical reach of prisoners pose a very real physical threat to prisoners and security staff.

Tamper-proof sprinkler heads and heat/smoke detectors are not a reality. The Brantford Police Service has actual experience in this matter. During the construction of the police headquarters, so called "tamper-proof" units were installed contrary to their wishes in the detention cells. Within two months, they were removed. Prisoners had removed wafer-like pieces from the sprinkler and used them in attempts to slash their wrists.

    1. The placement of sprinkler heads and heat/smoke detectors in the detention cells at 44 Queen Street will lead to unnecessary inconvenience and down time in the Courts. Our security personnel will take every precaution to ensure that prisoners in custody are not in possession of cigarettes, matches, etc.; however, there will not doubt be times when due to the number of prisoners in custody, even the most rigid precautions will be circumvented.

Should that lead to the setting off of the fire alarms and sprinkler systems, the entire building will be subject to evacuation, thus disrupting court proceedings. All prisoners will be returned to their detention areas until the source and nature of the alarm is determined.

The Brantford Fire Department will be inconvenienced by having to respond to the alarm. The downtown area will be disrupted while emergency vehicles respond to the alarm. During this time, Court proceedings will be recessed until the prisoners are secured and the clean up of any water is completed. This will undoubtedly, result in the adjournment of matters scheduled for hearings and the backlogging of future court dates.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that smoke detectors and sprinklers are required in contained use areas in accordance with Articles 3.3.3.9. and 3.2.4.12 of the Building Code.

  1. Commission Ruling:

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that not providing smoke detectors and sprinkler heads in the prisoner cells, prisoners holding areas and prisoner elevator shaft does not provide sufficiency of compliance with the provisions of the Building Code.

  1. Reasons:

  1. The Building Code, Article 3.3.3.9. provides alternatives for deleting sprinklers in contained use areas.

  1. The Applicant provided no design alternatives to be considered by the Commission that could provide sufficiency of compliance.

  1. Design alternatives to the currently installed fire alarm system exist to minimize the impact of false alarms.

Dated at Toronto, this 10th day, in the month of November, in the year 1995, for application number 1995-60.

Roy Philippe

Michael Lio

Kenneth Bacon