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BCC Ruling No. 94-35-413

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #94-35-413

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentences 3.3.1.4.(1) and the definitions of Suite and Public Corridor in Article 1.1.3.2. of the Revised Regulation of Ontario 1990, Regulation 61, as amended by O.Regs. 400/91, 158/93 and 160/93 (the "Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by MDS Health Group Ltd. for the resolution of a dispute with Ms. Elizabeth Hilfrich, Chief Building Official, City of Gloucester.

APPLICANT

MDS Health Group Ltd.

RESPONDENT

Ms. Elizabeth Hilfrich
Chief Building Official
City of Gloucester

Sarah Maman, Chair
Demir Delen
Remus Tsang

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF RULING

November 10, 1994

APPEARANCES

Mr. Allan E. Larden, Principal
Larden Muniak Consulting Inc.
Toronto, Ontario

Mr. Peter R. Osgood
Project Supervisor
MDS Laboratories
Etobicoke, Ontario

For the Applicant

RULING

  1. The Applicant

MDS Health Group Ltd. is the applicant for a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct a medical clinic in the central portion of a new single storey noncombustible commercial structure, being Unit 2, 1224 Place D'Orleans Drive, Gloucester, Ontario.

  1. Description of Constrution

The applicant proposed to construct a clinic comprising five medical practices and a common waiting area. The clinic would occupy the central portion (i.e. 585 m?) of a new single storey noncombustible commercial structure.

MDS Health Group Ltd. have sublet the clinic space to five groups of doctors or individual doctors. The clinic is designed as a grouping of five medical practices around a common waiting area. The reception areas of each of the five component practices are open directly to the common waiting area.

The individual medical practices share cleaning expenses and are jointly responsible for furnishing and maintaining the common area as well as jointly leasing the security system for the unit.

The buildings size and Group D occupancy imposes no requirement for a fire alarm system.

  1. Dispute

The dispute between the Applicant and Respondent concerning sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of Sentence 3.3.1.4.(1) and the definitions of Suite and Public Corridor in Article 1.1.3.2. of the Building Code. At issue is the determination of whether the walls of the common waiting area serving five medical practices are required to be constructed as a 45 minute fire separation.

  1. Provision of the Building Code

Sentence 3.3.1.4.(1): Public Corridor Separations

  1. Except as otherwise required in this Part, public corridors shall be separated from the remainder of the building by a fire separation having a fire-resistance rating of not less than 1 h except that

    1. the fire resistance rating need not be more than 45 min when the fire-resistance rating of the floor assembly is not required to be more than 45 min,
    2. no fire-resistance rating is required when the floor area is sprinklered and the corridor does not serve an institutional occupancy or a residential occupancy,
    3. no fire separation is required in a sprinklered floor area where,

i. the corridor is more than 5 m (16 ft 5 in) in unobstructed width, and

ii. the corridor does not serve an institutional occupancy or a residential occupancy,

    1. a floor assembly above a crawl space that is not considered a basement in Sentence 3.2.2.5.(2) is not required to be a fire separation, and
    2. no fire separation is required in a sprinklered floor area where an occupancy in the corridor conforms to the requirements of Sentence 3.3.1.9.(6).

Article 1.1.3.2.: Definitions

Suite: means a single room or series of rooms of complementary use, operated under a single tenancy, and includes dwelling units, individual guest rooms in motels, hotels, boarding houses, rooming houses and dormitories as well as individual or complementary rooms for business and personal services occupancies.

Public Corridor: means a corridor that provides access to exit from more than 1 suite.

  1. Applicant's Position

The applicant stated that the design of Unit 2, 1224 Place D'Orleans Drive in Gloucester, Ontario, incorporating walls between the Common Area and the remainder of Unit 2 which are not fire separations demonstrates sufficiency of compliance with the level of safety intended by the Building Code on the following bases:

  1. Due to the joint use of the Common Area by the five component medical practices, and the ability to apprehend an incipient fire or smoke hazard due to visually open reception facilities and glazed doors, occupants will have an enhanced ability to apprehend a fire than would be the case with an opaque, rated fire separation.

  1. Travel distance from any point in the unit is within 23 m of an exit door. This compares favourably with the allowance in Clause 3.3.2.5.(1)(c) of the Building Code whereby corridors used by the public in assembly occupancies need not be fire separated where travel distance measured from any point in the floor area does not exceed the travel distance limit imposed for the occupancy.

  1. A single zone, single stage fire alarm system utilizing automatic smoke detectors will be installed. The fire alarm system will incorporated the following features:

i. single smoke detectors in each of the five medical suites except that Suite 600, due to its larger size and elongated plan, would have two smoke detectors. These smoke detectors will be installed in the circulation areas of each suite so that smoke arising from the more remote portions of the suite will be expected to be intercepted prior to its impingement on the egress doors from the suite into the Common Area. Smoke detectors will also be installed in accordance with the spacing criterion in ULC S524, "Standard for the Installation of Fire Alarm Systems", in the Common Area,

ii. a pull station at each exterior exit door,

iii. a control panel incorporating electrical supervision capability and an emergency power supply,

iv. audible signal appliances installed so that alarm signals may be heard throughout Unit 2, and

v. associated wiring.

This fire alarm system with automatic smoke detection will provide the very significant benefit of early detection and warning of a potential fire arising in a suite, remotely from potential occupants of the Common Area or other suites. It is expected that this would constitute a superior situation in terms of life safety than would be provided for Unit 2 with the provision of a 45 min rated partition between the Common Area and the remainder of the unit and no alarm system with automatic early warning smoke detection devices.

The Applicant respectfully requested the Building Code Commission consider the merits of this submission and rule on its acceptance.

  1. Chief Building Officials Position

The respondent stated that the space is being divided into several suites each of which is being individually sublet. These suites are being served by a public corridor containing waiting areas.

Section 3.3.1.4.(1) specifies that a public corridor shall be separated from the remainder of the floor area by a fire separation. The submitted plans do not indicate the required fire separation.

  1. Commission Ruling:

In favour of the Applicant. It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that not constructing walls in the common area as a fire separation shows sufficiency of compliance with the Building Code for the following reasons:

  1. The common functions of the medical clinic including the burglar alarm system and the waiting area shared by the laboratory and medical practices.

  1. The fire alarm system will provide prompt detection and notification to the occupant of a fire condition.

  1. The maximum travel distance is 23 m.

Dated at Toronto, this 10th day, in the month of November, in the year 199*, for application number 1994-50.

Sarah Maman

Demir Delen

Remus Tsang