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BCC Ruling No. 95-58-478

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #95-58-478

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Articles 9.9.9.3., 9.9.2.6. & 9.9.4.5. and Sentence 9.9.9.1.(3) 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. Jill Moir, Administrator, Grey Condominium Corporation No. 18, Collingwood for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Bernard A. Fransen, Chief Building Official, Township of Collingwood, concerning whether the proposed renovations to improve the egress conditions in five existing 3-storey residential buildings will provide sufficiency of compliance with the Building Code, at "Chateau Ridge Condominium", Grey Condominium Corporation No. 18, Collingwood, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Ms. Jill Moir, Administrator
Grey Condominium Corporation No. 18
Collingwood, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. Bernard A. Fransen
Chief Building Official
Township of Collingwood

PANEL

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

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF RULING

December 5th, 1995

APPEARANCES

Mr. David Syrett, Associate
Leber/Rubes Inc.
AND
Mr. Jay Leedale
Halsall Associates Limited
For the Applicant

Mr. Bernard A. Fransen
Chief Building Official
Township of Collingwood
The Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Ms. Jill Moir, Grey Condominium Corporation No. 18, Collingwood is the holder of permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 for remedial work to five existing 3-Storey residential buildings, at "Chateau Ridge Condominium, Grey Condominium Corporation No. 18, Collingwood, Ontario.

  1. Description of Constrution

The five buildings were constructed in 1986-1987 and occupied soon after construction was completed. The Condominium Corporation authorized an independent consulting engineering firm to inspect and report on the condition of the five new buildings with respect to the Building Code after construction was completed.

In January 1995 the Condominium Corporation retained the services of the same firm to inspect and evaluate the five buildings in terms of the life safety retrofit legislation in Section 9.5 of the Ontario Fire Code (O. Reg 627/92). The consultant's findings indicate deficiencies with respect to the retrofit legislation and the Building Code applicable (1983) at the time of original construction.

The following applies to the subject buildings:

  • Three storey building height
  • Two storey dwelling units located above one another
  • Building area: Block A - 499 sq m

Block B - 499 sq m

Block C - 399 sq m

Block D - 584 sq m

Block E - 300 sq m/399 sq m (divided by firewall).

  • Mixed combustible and noncombustible construction
  • Smoke alarm in each unit
  • Total of 54 dwelling units
  • Eight unit models (ie., A, A1, B, B1, AE, A1E, C and C1)
  • Managed by Blue Mountain Resorts and made available to the public on nightly, week-end and weekly basis.

The following construction is proposed for the subject buildings:

  • Install a fire alarm and detection system rather than providing a second and separate exit for second storey dwelling units that share an interior stair. Install a fire alarm and detection system rather than providing a third storey exterior balcony for Unit A1E.
  • Replace the fire door and frame to the maid's closet that opens into the interior exit stair rather than relocate the hydro circuit panel and eliminate closet. Thermal detection will also be installed in the closet.
  • Protect unprotected stair window, exposed to unprotected suite window with wired glass in hardwood frame rather than a steel frame.

  1. Dispute

The dispute between the Applicant and Respondent concerns sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of Articles 9.9.9.3, 9.9.2.6. & 9.9.4.5. and Sentence 9.9.9.1.(3) of the Building Code. At issue is whether the proposed renovations to improve the egress conditions in five existing 3-storey residential buildings will provide sufficiency of compliance with the Building Code.

  1. Provision of the Building Code

Article 9.9.9.3. Shared Egress Facilities

  1. A dwelling unit shall be provided with a second and separate means of egress where an egress door from the dwelling unit opens onto

    1. an exit stairway serving more than 1 suite,
    2. a public corridor serving more than one suite served by a single exit stairway,
    3. an exterior passageway serving more than one suite and served by a single exit stairway, or
    4. a balcony serving more than one suite and served by a single exit stairway.

Article 9.9.2.6. Ancillary Rooms

Ancillary rooms such as storage rooms, washrooms, toilet rooms, laundry rooms and service rooms shall not open directly into an exit.

Article 9.9.4.5. Openings in Exterior Walls of Exits

Openings in the exterior wall of an exit shall be protected with wired glass or glass block installed in accordance with Articles 9.10.13.5. and 9.10.13.7., where openings may be exposed to the hazard of a fire in another fire compartment of the same building.

Sentence 9.9.9.1.(3) Travel Unit to Exits or Egress Doors

The travel limit from a floor level in a dwelling unit to an exit or egress door may exceed 1 storey where that floor level has direct access to a balcony.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the Permit application has been made for proposed construction that will improve the level of fire safety in the existing buildings.

The Applicant submitted that the 1983 edition of the Building Code was in force at the time of the original permit. Although the requirements have not changed, the references have.

The Applicant submitted the following information concerning the matter in dispute:

i. Article 9.9.9.3. Shared Egress Facility

The Applicant submitted that second storey units A1, B1 and C1 have an entrance door into a shared interior exit stair. These units do not have a separate and second means of egress. Units A1 and C1 have an exterior balcony on the second storey, however, this condition does not comply with Article 9.9.9.3. of the Building Code.

Since it is not feasible to provide a second exit for the second storey units, a ULC listed fire alarm and detection system will be installed in accordance with CAN/ULC - S524 -M, "Standard for the Installation of Fire Alarm Systems". This will not be a Building Code conforming fire alarm system requiring manual pull stations. Rather, the proposed system is a measure to compensate for egress deficiencies:

  • Single-stage, single-zone fire alarm control equipment in a location best suited for responding resort staff and fire department (e.g., linen closet nearest access route).
  • Fire alarm system for each of the five buildings will be monitored at the Blue Mountain Resort switchboard.
  • Rate of rise thermal detection connected to the fire alarm system will be installed inside each dwelling unit and cleaning staff closet.
  • Smoke detection connected to fire alarm system at top of each exit stair shaft.
  • Alarm bell or horn in each dwelling unit and exit stair shaft.
  • System operation will be such that activation of any automatic devices in the system will case all alarm signalling devices on the system to sound.

ii. Article 9.9.9.1. Travel Limit to Exit or Egress Doors

It is necessary to travel from the third storey down more than one storey to reach the exterior entrance/exit door of unit A1E. All other units comply with Article 9.9.9.1.

The Applicant submitted that it is not feasible to install an exterior balcony for the third storey of this unit.

The Applicant submitted that sufficiency of compliance is achieved due to the fire alarm and detection system being installed, an exterior balcony at the second floor, and an existing unrated enclosure between the second storey and the stairs leading down to the exterior door.

iii. Article 9.9.2.6. Ancillary Rooms

The Applicant submitted that a maid's closet containing linen and an electrical circuit breaker panel are located in the typical interior exit stair serving four dwelling units.

The existing door is 32 mm thick wood in 20 mm thick wood door frames. The doors have self-latching devices but not self-closing devices.

Some of the maid's closets contain a janitor sink. The janitor sink will be removed which means the Building Code requirement for ventilation will not be applicable.

Fire stopping deficiencies between the closet and the remainder of the building will be upgraded to comply with the Building Code.

The existing doors will be replaced with a labelled 3/4 hour frame complete with self-closing and self-latching devices.

A thermal detector connected to the new fire alarm system will be installed in each closet.

Article 9.9.4.5. Openings in Exterior Walls of Exits

The Applicant submitted that an unrated window in the exterior wall of the typical exit stair serving 4 units is at right angles and within 3 m of unprotected unit windows.

The Applicant proposed to protect the exit windows with wired glass in accordance with the requirements above except that hardwood frames and glazing stops will be used instead of steel.

The Applicant submitted that the proposed frames and glazing stops of hardwood rather than steel are considered reasonable given the existing combustible construction in which they will be installed, the limited building height of three storeys, the limited number of dwelling units (four), and the proposed fire alarm and detection system that will provide early warning of an emergency.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that the buildings must be upgraded for compliance with the Building Code that applied at the time of original permit application and construction rather than the retrofit legislation in the Fire Code.

The Respondent also submitted that the existing buildings will not be brought into compliance with the egress requirements of the Building Code as the result of the proposed renovations and the Respondent does not have the authority to issue a building permit based on the proposed equivalencies.

It is the Respondent's opinion that each of the suites or dwelling units contained in the structure normally referred to as Chateau Ridge requires a second exit. Furthermore, the Respondent is not prepared to issue a permit for equivalency measures without first having received confirmation from the Building Code Commission that an alternate proposal to provide adequate fire safety does not compromise the safety of the building.

  1. Commission Ruling:

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that sufficiency of compliance with the requirements of Articles 9.9.9.3., 9.9.2.6., 9.9.4.5. and Sentence 9.9.9.1.(3) of the Building Code is obtained provided:

  1. a ULC listed fire alarm and detection system, installed in accordance with CAN/ULC - S524-M "Standard for the Installation of Fire Alarm Systems" is provided in all dwelling unit blocks with pull stations at each exit from a stairwell to the exterior. Fire alarm systems shall be monitored through a central monitoring station as required under Sentence 3.2.4.7.(3) of the Building Code.

  1. smoke detectors are installed in all electrical and maids closets within the stairwell enclosures and at the top of each stairwell enclosure and rate of rise heat detectors within each dwelling unit are installed.

  1. a second means of egress or an accessible exterior balcony is provided for all two storey dwelling units where more than one storey must be traversed to reach an exit.

  1. openings in exterior walls of exits are protected with wired glass, mounted in hardwood frames with glazing stops.

  1. 45 minute rated fire doors with self closing devices must be installed for each maids closet that opens within the stairwell enclosures.

  1. Reasons:

    1. The buildings provide for limited occupant loads and limited travel distance.
    2. An early warning and evacuation system will be provided to enhance life safety.
    3. Balconies provide an open space for emergency egress.

Dated at Toronto, this 5th day, in the month of December, in the year 1995, for application number 1995-62.

Roy Philippe

Michael Lio

Demir Delen