BCAB #1689 - Fire Protection of Exterior Exit Ramp, Sentence 3.2.3.13.(2)

January 20, 2011

BCAB #1689

Re: Fire Protection of Exterior Exit Ramp, Sentence 3.2.3.13.(2)

Project Description
The project is a sprinklered, noncombustible six storey commercial building with an automobile dealership on the first three storeys and leased office space on the top three storeys. The building is on a sloping site with the third storey slightly above grade at the front and the first storey at grade at the rear. The first and second storeys are garages. The third storey is considered the main floor and contains the automobile showroom and main entry lobby. An exit door from the main floor showroom leads to an exterior ramp running parallel to the glazed exterior wall of the showroom and leading to the ground level outdoor vehicle display area and the street.

Reason for Appeal
Sentence 3.2.3.13.(2) requires that where an exterior exit ramp could be exposed to a fire from within the building from openings within 3 metres horizontally and less than 10 metres below or 5 metres above the ramp the opening must be protected in accordance with Sentence 3.2.3.13.(4). Sentence (4) requires protection by wired glass, glass block or a closure.

Appellant’s Position
The appellant contends that the ramp should not be considered an exterior exit ramp but rather part of the means of egress from the showroom. The travel distance including the ramp is less than the maximum permitted 45 metres so whether the ramp is inside the showroom or immediately outside makes no difference to the safety of anyone exiting the showroom.

Building Official's Position
The building official maintains that the Code wording is clear, the exterior ramp is an exit because it outside the floor area and it must be protected in accordance with Sentences 3.2.3.13.(2) and (4). The building official notes that a code change proposal addressing this very issue was made and subjected to public review. Comments from the public review resulted in withdrawal of the proposal for reconsideration and it has no action has been taken to date.

Appeal Board Decision #1689
The Board notes the travel distance when measured at or beyond the bottom of the ramp complies with the maximum permitted travel distance of 45 metres. The ramp is considered part of the means of egress, not an exit ramp, and the protection requirements of Sentence 3.2.3.13.(2) are not applicable.

George Humphrey, Chair