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BCC Ruling No. 95-28-448

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #95-28-448

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentences 3.4.6.15.(3) and 3.4.6.15.(4) 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. Normand D. Tremblay, President/Owner, Loeb St. Laurent for the resolution of a dispute with Ms. Elizabeth Hilfrich, Chief Building Official, City of Gloucester, concerning whether a partial fire alarm system that only satisfies the specific requirements for three electromagnetic locking devices installed on exit doors at Loeb St. Laurent shows sufficiency of compliance with the Building Code.

APPLICANT

Loeb St. Laurent
Gloucester, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Ms. Elizabeth Hilfrich
Chief Building Official
City of Gloucester

PANEL

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

PLACE

Ottawa, Ontario

DATE OF RULING

May 30th, 1995

APPEARANCES

Mr. Norman Tremblay, Owner
Loeb St. Laurent
Gloucester, Ontario
The Applicant

Mr. John Justa
Building Inspector
City of Gloucester
Gloucester, Ontario
For the Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Normand D. Tremblay, Loeb St. Laurent is the holder of a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to alter the front vestibule and one exit at the front of Loeb St. Laurent, 1021 St. Laurent Blvd., Gloucester, Ontario.

  1. Description of Constrution

The subject building is a one storey grocery store (i.e. Mercantile, Group E major occupancy). The building area is approximately 2393 m² (25759 ft²). The building is sprinklered, but does not have a fire alarm system that complies with Subsection 3.2.4. of the Building Code.

Electromagnetic locking devices have been installed on three exit doors of the store. The Applicant would like to install a fire alarm that only satisfies the specific requirements for electromagnetic locking devices. The applicant does not want to install a complete fire alarm system in accordance with the installation and testing requirements in Article 3.2.4.5. of the Building Code.

  1. Dispute

The dispute between the Applicant and Respondent concerns sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of Sentences 3.4.6.15.(3) and 3.4.6.15.(4) of the Building Code. At issue is whether a partial fire alarm system that only satisfies the specific requirements for three electromagnetic locking devices installed on exit doors at Loeb St. Laurent shows sufficiency of compliance with the Building Code.

  1. Provision of the Building Code

Sentences 3.4.6.15.(3) & 3.4.6.15.(4) Door Release Hardware

  1. Locking, latching and other fastening devices on any required exit door shall be each that the door can be readily opened from the inside without requiring keys, special devices or specialized knowledge of the door opening mechanism, except that this requirement does not apply to locking, latching and other fastening devices described in Sentence (4) or to doors designed to be remotely released in conformance with Article 3.3.1.12. serving a contained use are or an impeded egress zone.

  1. An electromagnetic locking device that does not incorporate latches, pins or other similar devices to keep the door in the closed position is permitted to be installed on an exit door, other than an exit door serving an elementary or secondary school or leading directly from a Group F, division 1 occupancy

    1. if the building is equipped with a fire alarm system conforming to Subsection 3.2.4.,
    2. if the locking device is installed as an ancillary device to the fire alarm system and releases immediately

i. upon activation of the fire alarm signal,

· where the exit door serves a hotel, upon activation of the alert signal where a two stage fire alarm system is installed or upon activation of the alarm signal where a single stage fire alarm system is installed,

ii. in the event of a power failure or ground fault, and

iii. upon actuation of a manually-operated switch accessible only to authorized personnel,

    1. if a manual pull station for the fire alarm system is located on the wall not more than 600 mm (23 5/8 in) from the door,
    2. if, upon its release, the locking device must be reactivated manually by the actuation of the switch referred to in Subclause (b) (iii),
    3. if a legible sign having the words EMERGENCY EXIT UNLOCKED BY FIRE ALARM is permanently mounted on the door, and
    4. if the lettering on the sign required in Clause (e) is at least 25 mm (1 in) high with a 5 mm (3/16 in) stroke.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted he was requested to either remove the electromagnetic locking devices on the exit doors or modify them to conform with the provisions of Article 3.4.6.15. of the Building Code. This article states that such devices are to be installed as an ancillary device to a fire alarm system.

The Applicant submitted that the store was built in 1968 and does not have a fire alarm system that complies with the Building Code. The Applicant is prepared to install a fire alarm system that will satisfy the specific requirements for electromagnetic locking devices. The Applicant submitted that the Respondent is requiring the fire alarm system to be installed and testing in conformance with Article 3.2.4.5. (i.e. CAN/ULC-S524 and S537) of the Building Code. This would mean a complete fire alarm system throughout the entire store. The applicant requested that he be exempted from installing a full fire alarm system due to the following reasons:

  1. The cost of such an elaborate system is at least four times more expensive than what is actually needed for the electromagnetic locking devices, and he cannot afford it.

  1. The provision of a partial fire alarm system that only satisfies the specific requirements for three electromagnetic locking devices insalled on the exit doors shows sufficiency of compliance with the Building Code.

  1. The building has a sprinkler system plus a comprehensive fire detection system monitored 24 hours day by a security company.

  1. Chief Building Officials Position

The Respondent submitted that a permit was obtained to alter the front vestibule and one exit at the front of a one storey (Group E) grocery store. The store is sprinklered, but does not have a fire alarm system. An Electromagnetic Locking Device (EMLD) was installed on the front exit and on two rear exits that are not part of the building permit. The EMLD's were not shown on the original documents submitted with the building permit application.

The Respondent submitted that the building is not provided with a fire alarm system conforming to Subsection 3.2.4. as required in Clause 3.4.6.15.(4)(a) of the Building Code. Also the release/reset features required by Clause 3.4.6.15.(4)(b) of the Building Code are not provided. Therefore the EMLDs are not permitted to be installed in the building.

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

  1. Commission Ruling:

In favour of the Respondent. It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the electromagnetic locking devices on three (3) required exit doors do not demonstrate sufficiency of compliance with the Building Code.

  1. Reasons:

    • Sentence 3.4.6.15.(4) permits electromagnetic locking devices on required exit doors only in buildings equipped with a fire alarm system conforming to Subsection 3.2.4. of the Building Code.

    • Insufficient evidence was provided that the existing security system can function as an acceptable fire alarm system.

Dated at Toronto, this 30th day, in the month of May, in the year 1995, for application number 1995-23.

Roy Philippe

Lesia Beznaczuk

Remus Tsang