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BCC Ruling No. 95-46-466

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentence, Clause and Article 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 Sentence, Clause and Article 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").


Mr. R.D. Funnell, P.Eng.
City Engineer
City of Guelph


Mr. Bruce Poole
Chief Building Official
City of Guelph


Mr. Roy Philippe, Chair
Mr. Sang Shim
Ms. Lesia Beznaczuk


Toronto, Ontario


October 5th, 1995


Mr. Steven Tomlin
Morrison Hershield Limited
Mr. Charles A. Bennett
R. Cave & Associates Engineering Ltd.
For the Applicant

Mr. Bruce Poole
Chief Building Official
Mr. Paul Moore
Senior Plans Examiner
City of Guelph
For the Respondent


  1. The Applicant

Mr. R.D. Funnell, City Engineer is the applicant for a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct a compost building at 333 Watson Road, Guelph, Ontario.

  1. Description of Constrution

The plant is a one storey structure of non combustible construction. The plant floor is poured concrete on grade. The walls are a combination of concrete and lined insulated metal panel cladding. The concrete portion of the wall extends 150 mm above grade. The lined insulated metal cladding panel on structural steel extends above the concrete portion of the wall approximately 6 m above the floor level. The roof is a metal roof on structural steel and slopes upwards from the 6 m to a height of 8 m at its peak.

The plant is divided into two areas. The Primary Compost area and the Secondary Compost area. Between the two areas is transition point called the Discharge Pit.

The plant will be protected with a fire alarm system conforming to the Building Code Subsection 3.2.4.

Dry pipe sprinkler systems designed to NFPA 13 "Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems" will protect the Secondary Compost area only. The Primary Compost area will have a wetting design to automatically activate once a day.

A 50 mm water line will be provided along the west wall with 8 hose bibs.

The Primary Compost area is divided into 11 compartments of 3 m in height each extending from column 12 to column line 22. The two exterior compartments and centre compartment contain 48 fan units supplying air to the compost from below. The remaining compartments are compost areas having 600 mm of gravel on top of the concrete floor. The 3 m high walls separating these compartments are 300 mm thick poured concrete.

The Secondary Compost area is protected by dry pipe sprinkler systems. The area is open with no compartments. The compost is divided into an east and west area with a 10 m open space in the middle.

  1. Dispute

The dispute between the Applicant and Respondent concerns sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of Sentence, Clause and Article of the Building Code. There are three areas of dispute for this facility. The areas of dispute are:

i. East Exposing Building Face

The east exposing building face has a limiting distance permitting 23% maximum unprotected openings as calculated by the Guelph Building Department. Clause requires the exterior wall to be constructed with a 2 hour fire-resistance rating and to be clad with non combustible cladding. The non combustible cladding proposed for the building does not have a fire-resistance rating. The limiting distance was measured from the building face to the property line.

ii. Travel Distance to an Exit

Most areas in the building exceed the maximum travel distance requirement of 30 m for an unsprinklered building.

iii. Considering the Plant Equivalent to a Fully Sprinklered Facility

The building is classified by Article as a Medium Hazard Industrial Occupancy (Group F, Division 2). The construction requirements of the Sentence for an unsprinklered building are:

  • non combustible construction
  • roof shall have a one hour fire resistance rating

  1. Provision of the Building Code

Sentence Unlimited Unprotected Openings

2. The exposing building face of a storey that faces a street and is at the same level as the street is permitted to have unlimited unprotected openings if the limiting distance is not less than 9 m.

Clause Location of Exits

  1. Except as provided in Sentence (2), (3) and, where more than one exit is required from a floor area, such exits shall be located so that the travel distance to not less than one exit as described in Article shall not be more than

(f) 30 m in any other occupancy.

Article Sprinklers in Lieu of Roof Rating

  1. The requirements on Articles to for roof assemblies to have a fire-resistance rating are permitted to be waived provided

    1. the building is sprinklered
    2. the sprinkler system in Clause (a) is electrically supervised in conformance with, and
    3. the operation of the sprinkler system in Clause (a) will cause a signal to be transmitted to the fire department in conformance with Sentence

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that through the process of the wetting system in the Primary Compost area and the dry pipe sprinkler systems protecting the Secondary Compost area, the Compost Plant be considered the equivalent to a fully sprinklered building. The Applicant submitted that sufficiency of compliance is met through the following:

  • non combustible construction
  • limited ignition sources
  • 50% moisture content of the compost making ignition extremely difficult
  • roof height being between 3 m to 5 m above the upper portion of the compost
  • automatic detection for controlling the temperature of the compost
  • manual suppression source through the hose outlets
  • daily wetting of the compost (the wetting system can also be manually operated)

The Applicant submitted that collectively these meet the intent of the Building Code to provide a building which meets the life safety standards of our society. The systems provide sufficiency of compliance to be considered equivalent to a fully sprinklered building, thereby waiving the one hour fire resistance rating for the roof and its supporting structure.

The Applicant submitted that a timed exit analysis demonstrates that the occupant in the most remote portion of the building may reach the exterior of the building within 1.3 minutes.

The Applicant also submitted that an access road will be designed to support the weight of a fire fighting vehicle conforming to Article of the Building Code. This access road will be open at all times for access by the fire department vehicles and therefore may be considered a street for the application of Sentence permitting unlimited unprotected openings in the east exposed building face. Therefore, the east exterior building face does not require a fire resistance rating.

The Applicant summarized his position by stating the design of the Compost Plant meets the intent of the Building Code and its level of life safety.

  1. Chief Building Officials Position

The Respondent submitted that the building has been classified as a Medium Hazard Industrial Occupancy (Group F, Division 2). As an unsprinklered building facing one street, the construction requirements of the building shall conform to Sentence of the Building Code. Therefore, the roof assembly requires a 1 hour fire-resistance rating and all loadbearing walls and columns must have the same rating as required for the supported assembly.

The Respondent submitted that the travel distance to an exit shall not exceed 30 m. Most areas in the building exceed the 30 m travel distance requirement.

The Respondent submitted that the exposing building face of the east elevation may have a maximum of 23% unprotected openings, for an unsprinklered building. The remaining 77% must have a 2 hour fire- resistance rating. No rating is proposed by the Applicant.

The Respondent submitted that a stand pipe and hose system is required if the building is not sprinklered.

  1. Commission Ruling:

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the Primary Compost area wetting system does not provide sufficiency of compliance with the sprinklering requirements of the Building Code. The Commission further rules that upon the provision of a sprinkler system throughout the building in accordance with the Building Code requirements, the following provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentence and Article

  1. The non-rated east exposing building face of non-combustible construction.

  1. The travel distance to an exit within the Primary Compost area.

  1. Reasons:

  1. The wetting system does not comply with NFPA 13.

  1. Internal subdivision of combustible material within the 8 compartmentized channels separated by 3 m high, 300 mm thick concrete walls contains potential fire spread and provides protection for the east exterior wall.

  1. The compost material is wetted at 50% moisture content by weight at all times by a wetting system in the primary area.

  1. Limited occupant load (i.e. 2 staff present only).

  1. Exit travel time study indicates 1.3 minutes.

Dated at Toronto, this 5th day, in the month of October, in the year 1995, for application number 1995-46.

Roy Philippe

Sang Shim

Lesia Beznaczuk