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BCC Ruling No. 94-38-416

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Article 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 Ms. Martha Krenek, Landlord for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Michael L. Nixon, Chief Building Official, City of Toronto, concerning whether protection of openings near an unenclosed exit stair are required as specified in Article of the Building Code.


Ms. Martha Krenek, Landlord
Toronto, Ontario


Mr. Michael L. Nixon
Chief Building Official
City of Toronto


Sarah Maman, Chair
Mr. David Lam
Mr. Sang Shim


Toronto, Ontario


December 15, 1994


  1. The Applicant

Ms. Martha Krenek, Landlord is the holder of a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to convert a single family dwelling (i.e semi-detached house) into two dwelling units, one above the other, at 1368 Davenport Road, Toronto, Ontario.

  1. Description of Constrution

The applicant proposes to convert a single family dwelling (i.e. house) into two dwelling units, one above the other. The building is more than 5 years old.

The plans indicate only one means of egress out of the basement apartment. This is provided by an exterior door at the basement level served by an stairway leading to the finished ground level.

Directly above the exterior basement exit is a window opening in the exterior wall of the unit above. The vertical distance between the window above and the exit below is less than 5 m.

  1. Dispute

The dispute between the Applicant and Respondent concerns sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of Article of the Building Code. At issue is whether the window above the unenclosed exit stair requires protection with wired glass in fixed steel frames or glass block conforming to Articles and

  1. Provision of the Building Code

Article Openings Near Unenclosed Exit Stairs and Ramps

Where an unenclosed exterior exit stair or ramp provides the only means of egress from a suite, and is exposed to fire from openings in the exterior walls of another fire compartment, the openings in the exterior walls of the building shall be protected with wired glass in fixed steel frames or glass block conforming to Articles and when the openings in the exterior walls of the building are within 3 m (9 ft 10 in) horizontally and less than 10 m (32 ft 10 in) below or less than 5 m (16 ft 5 in) above the exit stair or ramp.

  1. Applicant's Position

The applicant submitted that the level of safety intended by the Building Code is being maintained due to an additional escape window provided from a bedroom at the rear of the basement apartment.

The window has an area of 12 square feet with an individual unobstructed opening of 6 square feet and no dimension less than 2 feet. The window sill is 4 feet above the floor and 3 feet 6 inches below the adjacent ground level.

The applicant proposes to provide fixed steps to reach the window in the window well to facilitate egress from the dwelling unit.

  1. Chief Building Officials Position

The respondent submitted that in accordance with Article of the Building Code the subject window must be protected with wired glass in fixed steel frames or glass block. This is due to the basement apartment not having another adequate means of egress and the window being very close to the unenclosed exit stair.

The respondent also submitted that the proposal to use the rear bedroom window as a separate means of egress does not comply with Article of the Building Code.

  1. Commission Ruling:

In favour of the Applicant. It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the living room window on the first floor conforms to the Building Code, provided that the bedroom window in the basement meets the following criteria:

  1. The sill height is not more than 1 m (3'-3") above or below adjacent ground level;

  1. the window can be opened from the inside without the use of tools;

  1. the window has an individual unobstructed open portion having a minimum area of 0.38 m sq. (4.1 sq. ft.) with no dimension less than 460 mm (18");

  1. the sill height does not exceed 900 mm (2'11") above the floor or fixed steps;

  1. where the window opens into a window well, a clearance of not less than 1 m (3'-3") shall be provided in front of the window; and,

  1. smoke alarms are installed in every dwelling unit and in common areas in conformance with Subsection 9.10.18. and are interconnected.

  1. Reason:

Since the proposed bedroom escape window will conform to Compliance Alternative C121.1 in Part 11 of the Building Code, the bedroom window can be considered as a second means of egress and thereby eliminate the need for glass or wired glass block on the first floor living room window.

Dated at Toronto, this 15th day, in the month of December, in the year 1994, for application number 1994-43.

Sarah Maman

David Lam

Sang Shim