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BCC Ruling No. 95-07-427

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #95-07-427

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentences 3.4.6.15.(1). 3.4.6.15.(3) & 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. Stephen Lim, Cederland Properties, Market Village for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. John Wright, Chief Building Official, Town of Markham, concerning whether electromagnetic locking devices on egress doors required to be equipped with door release hardware complies with the technical interpretation of the Building Code, at 4394 Steeles Avenue East, Markham, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Cederland Properties, Market Village
Markham, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. John Wright
Chief Building Official
Town of Markham

PANEL

Mr. Demir Delen, Panel Chair
Mr. Remus Tsang
Mr. Sang Shim

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF RULING

February 28th, 1995

APPEARANCES

Mr. David Syrett, Associate
Leber/Rubes Inc.
Toronto, Ontario
For the Applicant

Mr. Chris Bird
Manager Plans Review
Town of Markham
For the Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Stephen Lim, Cederland Properties, Market Village is the applicant for a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to install electromagnetic locking devices on access to exit and exit doors required to be equipped with door release devices, at 4394 Steeles Avenue East, Markham, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The applicant proposed to construct a private club within a section of an existing two storey building. The total floor area of the club is approximately 1860 m². The ground floor lounge is 360 m² and open to the public. The second floor of the club is for private functions.

The building is fully sprinklered and has a single stage fire alarm system and emergency lighting system. The club is classified as a Group A, Division 2 occupancy. The occupant load for the club is in excess of 100 persons.

  1. Dispute

The dispute between the Applicant and Respondent concerns the technical interpretation of Sentence 3.3.1.12.(1), and Sentences 3.4.6.15.(1), 3.4.6.15.(3) & 3.4.6.15.(4) of the Building Code. At issue is whether the proposed electromagnetic locking devices are permitted on access to exit and exit doors required to be equipped with door release devices.

  1. Provision of the Building Code

Sentence 3.3.1.12.(1): Doors

(1) Every door that opens into or is located within a public corridor or other facility that provides access to exit from a suite shall

  1. be not less than 800 mm (2 ft 7 in) wide where there is only one door leaf
  2. have no single leaf in any multiple leaf door less than 600 mm (23D in) wide
  3. not open onto a step, and
  4. be readily openable in travelling to an exit without requiring keys, special devices or specialized knowledge of the door opening mechanism, except as permitted in Sentences (2) and (3).

Sentence 3.4.6.15.(1): Door Release Hardware

(1) If a door is equipped with a latching mechanism, a device that will release the latch and allow the door to swing wide open when a force of not more than 90 N (20 lb) is applied to the device in the direction of exit travel shall be installed on

  1. every exit door from a floor area containing a Group A occupancy having an occupant load of more than 100 persons,
  2. every door leading to an exit lobby from an exit stair shaft, and every exterior door leading from an exit stair shaft in buildings having an occupant load of more than 100 persons, and
  3. every exit door from a floor area containing a Group F, Division 1 occupancy.

(3) Locking, latching and other fastening devices on any required exit door shall be such 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 area or an impeded egress zone.

(4) 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,

i. 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% 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 that Sentences 3.3.1.12.(3) and 3.4.6.15.(1) of the Building Code do not prohibit an electromagnetic locking device on a door having a release device required by Sentence 3.4.6.15.(1).

The applicant submitted that Building Code Commission decision No. 91-10-320 made on August 29, 1991 clearly states that electromagnetic locking devices are permitted on doors required to have door release hardware. Item 1 in Attachment "A" of the Ruling states "in the first instance all doors shall comply to Code conforming locking, latching, releasing and/or any other required hardware, however, in addition electromagnetic locking devices are permitted to be installed as per Code requirements and these do not negate other locking, latching or release hardware as required elsewhere in the Code."

The NFPA 101 Committee commentary on 5-2.1.7.4. of NFPA 101 "Life Safety Code" states that it is the intent of the Code to allow the use of electromagnetic locking devices where door release hardware is required.

Evacuation in a fire emergency is generally prompted by an alarm signal or verbal instruction. So by the time evacuees arrive at the egress doors equipped with panic hardware, the electromagnetic locking devices will already be disengaged so that only the mechanical latching mechanism is holding the door in the closed position. It is therefore the opinion of Leber/Rubes Inc. that the electromagnetic locking devices complying with the Code do not compromise the level of safety intended by the door release requirements of Sentence 3.4.6.15.(1) of the Code.

Based on the above, it seems clear that the Building Code Commission and the National Fire Protection Association (U.S.) do not view the electromagnetic locking devices in conjunction with door release hardware as a threat to life safety.

  1. Chief Building Officials Position

The respondent submitted that a building permit cannot be issued for a condition that contravenes the Building Code. It is the respondents opinion that the installation of an electromagnetic locking device on a door required by Sentence 3.4.6.15.(1) to have door release hardware contravenes the Building Code. The door release requirements of Sentence 3.4.6.15.(1) supersede the electromagnetic locking device provisions of Sentence 3.4.6.15.(4).

Furthermore, Sentences 3.3.1.12.(1) and 3.4.6.15.(3) set out the general requirements for latching, locking and releasing of egress and exit doors. The respondent submitted that the allowance for electromagmetic locking devices referred to in Sentence 3.4.6.15.(3) applies to those doors that do not require door release hardware.

If electromagnetic locking devices were permitted on doors required to be equipped with door release hardware, then Sentence 3.4.6.15.(1) would contain specific references to Sentence 3.4.6.15.(4). As it does not, it is the respondent's opinion that electromagnetic locking devices are not permitted on doors required to be equipped with door release hardware.

The intent of providing door release hardware in these locations is to allow the unimpeded and immediate evacuation of high occupant loads where panic and crushing against egress doors is possible. Electromagnetic locking devices have the potential for delaying egress.

  1. Commission Ruling:

In favour of the Respondent. It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the installation of electromagnetic locking devices on egress doors required to be equipped with release hardware does not comply with the requirements of the Building Code.

  1. Reasons:

    1. Sentences 3.4.6.15.(1) and 3.4.6.15(4) operate independently. One does not preclude the requirements of the other. Allowing an electromagnetic locking device on such doors will defeat the purpose of installing a release hardware.

    1. Security concerns in such doors can be handled by other means or in combination with the door opening time delay features and signage provisions in Sentence 3.4.6.15.(6) provided the door release hardware identified in Sentence 3.4.6.15.(1) will release the magnetic locking devices installed on any access to exit and exit doors.

Dated at Toronto, this 28th day, in the month of February, in the year 1995, for application number 1995-02.

Demir Delen

Remus Tsang

Sang Shim