Email this pageThe Building Code and Residential Fire Sprinklers: Questions & Answers
Q1: What changes are being made to the Building Code?
The new requirements will mandate fire sprinklers in multiple-unit residential buildings over three storeys in height. In addition, the amendment generally replaces some Building Code requirements that acted as alternatives to sprinklering.
Q2: When will the regulation come into effect?
The new requirements apply to construction under building permits applied for on or after April 1, 2010.
|Q3:||Why is the province mandating fire sprinklers for large multiple-unit residential buildings over three storeys in height? Aren’t such buildings already safe?|
Public safety is a high priority for the province. Requiring larger multi-residential buildings to be sprinklered will make safe buildings even safer, and will bring Ontario’s requirements generally into line with the model National Building Code of Canada and the codes in force in other Canadian jurisdictions.
Q4: What types of buildings are affected by this change?
The new sprinkler requirements apply to multi-unit residential buildings over three storeys in height. They apply to new construction, building additions, floors of existing buildings that undergo a change of major occupancy to residential, and floor areas that undergo substantial (“gut”) renovation.
However, the new requirements do not apply to smaller residential buildings, including houses, or to the renovation of portions of floors. Certain forms of four-storey stacked townhouses are also exempt where they include specific fire safety features such as independent exits and continuous fire separations between units.
|Q5:||Will a 3-storey townhouse built under Part 9 have to comply with the new mandatory fire sprinkler regulations?|
The changes affecting sprinklers in O. Reg. 205/08 do not apply to buildings subject to Part 9 of Division B of the Building Code. Therefore, a 3-storey townhouse built under Part 9 will not be required to comply with the new mandatory fire sprinkler regulation.
|Q6:||What additional steps are being taken to harmonize Ontario’s Building Code with the model National Building Code?|
The Code amendment generally replace certain Ontario-specific Building Code provisions that currently act as alternatives to sprinklering including provisions related to smoke control, heat detection, exiting and areas of refuge in high buildings.
The Code amendment also modifies a limitation on the materials that may be used to construct firewalls in high buildings. Non-masonry construction is permitted, but only where the buildings on both sides of the firewall are sprinklered.
Q7: Are there any other Building Code changes included in this amendment?
The Code has also been amended to clarify that unsprinklered buildings undergoing renovation will still have to meet current Ontario-specific, compensating requirements, unless the floor areas undergoing renovation are sprinklered. The compensating requirements will be included in future amendments to Supplementary Standard SB4 under the Building Code.
The amendment also includes an increase in the maximum size of “live-work” units from 150 m2 to 200m2.
Q8: How does the new requirement affect renovations?
As well as governing new construction, the sprinkler requirements apply to building additions, floors of existing buildings that undergo a change of major occupancy to residential, and floor areas that undergo substantial (“gut”) renovation.
The Code amendment also specifies that unsprinklered buildings undergoing renovation will still have to meet current Ontario-specific, compensating requirements, unless the floor areas undergoing renovation are sprinklered. These requirements will be included in future amendments to Supplementary Standard SB4 made under the Building Code.
|Q9:||How does the new requirement affect combustible cladding requirements currently in the Code?|
The Ministry continues to study the issue of combustible cladding on high buildings and Code changes have not be made at this time.
Q10: How were the new regulations developed?
In February 2008, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing released a Building Code consultation paper that included proposed Code amendments to residential fire sprinklers regulation. The government considered submissions from stakeholders and the public, and recommendations from its Technical Advisory Committee, in approving Ontario Regulation 205/08.
|Q11:||What is the Ministry doing to respond to other potential Code changes raised during the public consultation?|
In response to a recommendation from the Technical Advisory Committee, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing intends to work with the building sector to clarify and review potential Building Code changes identified through the public consultation that could increase design flexibility and reduce costs.
|Q12:||What is the status of the proposed Code changes concerning on-site sewage maintenance inspections and “area bed” technology?|
The February 2008 consultation paper also included proposed Code changes related to maintenance inspections for existing on-site sewage systems and on-site sewage “area bed” technology.
The Ministry is reviewing the public comments received during the public consultation on these topics.
Q13: How will the regulation be implemented and enforced?
Following the implementation date of April 1, 2010, the requirements for fire sprinklers will be enforced by municipal building officials. In particular, the proposed fire sprinkler requirements will be enforced through building permit reviews and construction inspections under the Building Code Act, 1992.
Q14: How can I get further information on the Building Code changes?
You can obtain further information on the Building Code changes by visiting the Building Code website at www.ontario.ca/buildingcode or by contacting the Building and Development Branch at: (416) 585-6666 or firstname.lastname@example.org