BCAB #1664 - Supervision of Sprinkler System Control Valves, Clause 3.2.4.9.(2)(a)

January 20, 2010

BCAB #1664

Re: Supervision of Sprinkler System Control Valves, Clause 3.2.4.9.(2)(a)

Project Description
The project consists of 2 (and a future third) multi-tenant commercial/industrial buildings on one lot. Each building will have its own sprinkler and fire alarm system. The sprinkler water connections for each building are served from a single feed from the municipal water supply. The double check backflow preventer for the site, with its two control valves, is located in a common underground vault remote from any of the buildings. The sprinkler water supply for each building has a control valve upon entering the building and all devices inside each building are monitored by the fire alarm system of that building.

Reason for Appeal
Clause 3.2.4.9.(2)(a) requires electrical supervision of the sprinkler system “. . . to indicate a supervisory signal on the building fire alarm system annunciator for . . . movement of a valve handle that controls the supply of water to sprinklers”. The intent of this provision is to “limit the probability that deficiencies in automatic sprinkler systems will go unnoticed, which could lead to improper operation of the system in a fire situation, which could lead to the fire not being suppressed or controlled, which could lead to the spread of fire, which could lead to harm to persons.”

Appellant’s Position
The appellant contends that the application of the Building Code is limited to buildings plus a limited number of specified items beyond the exterior walls. With the exception of remote monitoring, Subsection 3.2.4. makes no reference to a fire alarm system going beyond the confines of the building. As municipal valves are arguably exempt (see Division A, Clause 1.1.1.1.(2)(a)), it seems reasonable that a similar valve on private property would also be exempt because the safety associated with each valve would be the same. Based on the contention that the Building Code applies to buildings and a fire alarm system is provided “in a building,” it is the appellant’s position that the fire alarm system is not required for devices outside the building.

Building Official's Position
The building official maintains that Clause 3.2.4.9.(2)(a) does not differentiate between a valve located either inside or outside a building but does require electrical supervision for movement of the valve handle controlling the water supply to the sprinkler system. Each building on a property with a sprinkler system would require electrical supervision of the valve controlling the water supply to the sprinkler system. City valves are governed by local bylaw and tampering by other than authorized personnel is prohibited. The intent of electrical supervision of the valve is for safety purposes to ensure that if a valve is accidentally left closed after testing or servicing an obvious indicator is present.

Appeal Board Decision #1664
It is the determination of the Board that the Building Code can apply beyond the confines of a building and that is the case with this circumstance. The Board noted the definition in Division A of “fire service pipe” includes the pipe from the public water main to the building. The valves in the remote underground vault on the property in question are part of the fire service pipe and control the supply of water to sprinklers so they must be supervised by the fire alarm system in conformance with Clause 3.2.4.9.(2)(a). (See also Appeal #1618)

George Humphrey, Chair