BCAB #1559 - Classification of Exterior Courtyard

December 19, 2001

BCAB #1559

Re: Classification of Exterior Courtyard

Project Description

The subject is a two storey sprinklered building of combustible construction. The first storey contains Group A, Division 2 and Group E major occupancies; the second storey contains Group C suites. The building incorporates an internal courtyard (approx. 7m X 10m) at ground level near the centre of the building which is uncovered. Retail suites open onto the courtyard. The courtyard has 3 access/egress passageways that lead to a roadway or parking lot.

On the second storey, residential suites cantilever over the courtyard area up to 2.5 meters. A portion of a public corridor also extends over the courtyard with a one side of the corridor open to the courtyard below. This portion of the public corridor open to the courtyard below serves as the only means of egress for one residential suite.

Reason for Appeal

  1. Section 3.1.2. requires every building to be classified as to its major occupancy (s).

  2. Sentence 3.1.3.1.(1) requires major occupancies to be separated from adjoining major occupancies by a fire separation having a fire resistance rating conforming to Table 3.1.3.1.

  3. Subsection 3.2.2. requires a building to be constructed in conformance with this Subsection to prevent fire spread, specifically, required fire separations between storeys.

Appellant’s Position

The appellant contends:

  1. The courtyard area is not part of the floor area of the building and is not required to be designated with an occupancy classification. It is intended the courtyard area will be used for exterior public circulation space and not occupied by materials with a fuel load that would warrant a Group E classification.

  2. As the courtyard area is not considered to contain a major occupancy, the area of the residential occupancies on the second floor that cantilever over the courtyard are not required to be separated as required by Sentence 3.1.3.1.(1), i.e. there is no adjoining major occupancy below. The fire resistance of the floor assembly would be 45 minutes, as determined by Articles 3.2.2.48. This would also be applicable to the portion of the public corridor that extends over the courtyard and is exposed to the exterior.

  3. As courtyard has no roof over it and is considered as exterior space no separation is required between it and the storey immediately above. The appellant considers that any fire that may occur in the courtyard would be vented to the exterior and there would be no buildup of smoke or heat as what would occur an enclosed interconnected floor space.

Building Official’s Position

  1. The Building Official maintains that the exterior courtyard should be considered part of and classified as Group E occupancy, as there may be "kiosk type" operations located within the courtyard.

  2. The Building Official contends the second storey floor assemblies that cantilever over the courtyard should be constructed as a fire separation with a fire resistance rating of 2 hours, as required for separation of major occupancies.

  3. The Building Official contends that the first storey exterior courtyard open to a portion of the second storey creates an interconnected floor space and that a vertical separation is required between the second storey and the courtyard to maintain a storey to storey fire separation.

Further the Building Official considers that the fundamental Code principle of protection of a means of egress from smoke and fire Is not being met, compromising life safety for the residential suite or suites which must use the unprotected exterior portion of the public corridor.

Appeal Board Decision #1559

It is the determination of the Board that:

  1. In this specific circumstance the area of the courtyard covered by the floor above should not be classified as having a major occupancy as the majority of the area under the floor overhang is required for pedestrian circulation/egress.

  2. Because there is no adjoining major occupancy below the fire resistance rating of the projecting floor assembly is determined by applicable article in Subsection 3.2.2. 

  3. The portion of the public corridor which is exposed to the exterior and overlooking the courtyard below must be separated from the remainder of the building by a fire separation with the appropriate fire resistance rating.

Steve Gertsman, Vice-Chair