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BCC Ruling No. 95-26-446

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #95-26-446

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Clause 3.3.2.8.(1)(c) of the Revised Regulation of Ontario 1990, Regulation 61, as amended by O.Regs. 400/91, 158/93, 160/93 and 355/94 (the "Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. Greg Graham, Palladium Corporation for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. John Harkness, Chief Building Official, City of Kanata, concerning whether the upper tier seating design that does not provide 660 mm high guards between rows of fixed seats shows sufficiency of compliance with the Building Code at the Ottawa Palladium, 1000 Palladium Drive, Kanata, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Palladium Corporation
Nepean, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. John Harkness
Chief Building Official
City of Kanata

PANEL

Mr. Roy Philippe, Chair
Ms. Lesia Beznaczuk
Mr. Remus Tsang

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF RULING

May 30th, 1995

APPEARANCES

Mr. Jonathan Rubes, Principal
Leber/Rubes Inc.
Consulting Engineers
Toronto, Ontario
AND
Mr. Jake Pauls
Consulting Services in
Building Use & Safety
Maryland, USA
For the Applicant

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Greg Graham, Palladium Corporation is the holder of a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct a new National Hockey League (NHL) hockey arena for the Ottawa Senators at 1000 Palladium Drive, Kanata, Ontario.

  1. Description of Constrution

The Ottawa Palladium is a new NHL hockey arena for the Ottawa Senators. The facility will seat approximately 19,000 people and will have three tiers of seating.

The facility includes an upper tier of fixed seats where the rise between rows is approximately 600 mm. The Applicant does not wish to provide guards between these rows of fixed seats. Clause 3.3.2.8.(1)(c) of the Building Code requires a 660 mm high guard to be provided where the seating is arranged in successive tiers and the height between platforms is more than 450 mm.

The seating configuration in the Palladium has been designed in accordance with NFPA 101 "Life Safety Code". This includes the use of sophisticated smoke management systems to enhance the level of safety and maintain smoke protected routes during evacuation of the building. The NFPA 101 requires handrails in the aisles of this seating section that are not required by the Building Code.

  1. Dispute

The dispute between the Applicant and Respondent concerns the sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of Clause 3.3.2.8.(1)(c) of the Building Code. At issue is whether the upper tier seating design that does not provide 660 mm high guards between rows of fixed seats shows sufficiency of compliance with the Building Code.

  1. Provision of the Building Code

Clause 3.3.2.8.(1)(c) Guards

  1. Except as required in Sentence (2) to (4) for bleacher seats, guards shall be installed in outdoor and indoor places of assembly with fixed seating so that:

(c) where the seating is arranged in successive tiers and the height of rise between platforms
is more than 450 mm, the height of guards is not less than 660 mm along the entire row of
seats at the edge of the platform.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that Clause 3.3.2.8.(1)(c) of the Building Code is not applicable to rows of fixed seats. It was suggested that this requirement was originally intended for a platform of loose seats. Such a platform created isolated seating areas which in more recent designs have been replaced by private boxes.

The Applicant submitted that even if Clause 3.3.2.8.(1)(c) of the Building Code is considered applicable to fixed rows of seats, the proposed design provides an equivalent level of performance:

  1. The seating configuration has been designed in accordance with NFPA 101 "Life Safety Code" that does not require guards in fixed seating rows.

  1. Typically trip and fall related injuries occur on stairs. Although handrails are not required by the Building Code in seating aisles and steps, handrails will be provided in aisles in this tier of seating.

  1. Past experience supports the conclusion that tiers of fixed seats perform acceptably without guards located between rows.

  1. Chief Building Officials Position

The Respondent submitted that the proposed upper tier seating has successive seating risers of 597 mm that will not have guards in the rows nor will the seat back extend more than 600 mm above the floor of the row behind.

The Respondent submitted that records and reports indicate that there does not appear to have been any accidents or injuries in similar seating tiers without guards. The proposed seating has been designed in accordance with NFPA 101 Life Safety Code.

The Respondent does not have the authority to permit a condition that deviates form the Building Code and the use of equivalents regulated by Section 2.7 is not applicable.

  1. Commission Ruling:

In favour of the Applicant. It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the upper seating design, that does not provide 660 mm high guards between rows of fixed seating, shows sufficiency of compliance with the Building Code.

  1. Reasons:

  1. Seating has been designed to NFPA 101 "Life Safety Code" and includes such safety features as handrails in seating aisles, which exceeds the Building Code requirements.

  1. Evidence based on past studies supports the acceptability without guards located between rows.

  1. Evidence presented indicates that trip and fall related injuries usually occur on stairs rather than within seat rows.

Dated at Toronto, this 30th day, in the month of May, in the year 1995, for application number 1995-24.

Roy Philippe

Lesia Beznaczuk

Remus Tsang