BCAB #1766 - Application of definition of exit, Sentence 1.4.1.2.(1), Division A and Exit signage in an Exterior Passageway, Sentence 3.4.5.1.(5) (2006 BCBC) - clone

June 15, 2015

BCAB #1766

Re: Application of definition of exit, Sentence 1.4.1.2.(1), Division A

       Exit signage in an Exterior Passageway, Sentence 3.4.5.1.(5) (2006 BCBC)

Project Description

The project is a renovation and addition to an existing school building classified as Group A, Division 2 and constructed in accordance with Article 3.2.2.24. of the 2006 BC Building Code.  One of the building’s egress system includes a covered and contained exterior exit passageway that leads to an open public thoroughfare in one direction, and to a fenced landscaped/lawn area in the other direction.  The fenced, landscaped/lawn area has multiple connecting routes to public thoroughfares which are not specifically delineated or identified.

Reason for Appeal

1. The Code’s definition of exit indicates it is that part of the means of egress that leads from the floor area it serves to an exterior open space protected from fire exposure from the building and having access to an open public thoroughfare. There is dispute whether or not the egress route using the fenced landscaped/lawn area constitutes an exit.

2. Also, Sentence 3.4.5.1.(5) states: If necessary, the direction of egress in public corridors and passageways shall be indicated by a sign conforming to Sentence (3) with a suitable arrow or pointer indicating the direction of egress. There is dispute whether or not it is necessary to provide egress signage in the exterior passageway. This part of the dispute is contingent on the decision whether the egress route using the landscaped/lawn area can be considered an exit.

Appellant's Position

1. The appellant contends the egress route using the fenced lawn area complies with the definition of an exit because

-the landscaped/lawn area is greater than 3 metres from the building and therefore should be considered protected from fire exposure of the building, and  

-there are multiple routes from it to a public thoroughfare. The appellant notes the BC Building Code does not regulate exterior walking surfaces used for egress and therefore the grassed surface is acceptable.

2.  The appellant contends that directional exit signage is not required because once within the exterior exit passageway, an occupant is deemed to have exited the floor area and can move in either direction to a protected space connected to an open public thoroughfare.  Further, exterior directional signage within the egress route is not necessary as movement in any direction will lead to a safe place.

Building Official's Position

The building official maintains that the egress route using the fenced landscaped/lawn area cannot be considered an exit because it does not clearly lead to a public open thoroughfare due to fencing and lack of a distinct pathway identifying the route to the thoroughfare. The building official is requiring that a designated path to the open public thoroughfare be provided and that the walking surface be free of tripping hazards that are inherent in a landscaped/lawn area.

As the building official considers egress using the landscape/ lawn area is not an exit, directional exit signage complying with Article 3.4.5.1. is required to identify the single exit direction for the exterior passageway.

Appeal Board Decision #1766

The Board takes its direction from a National Building Code of Canada Users Guide that indicates where “the means of egress from the building passes a portion of the space around the building, provisions of a safe route have to be considered.” The Board questions whether the subject landscaped/lawn area on its own is an adequate safe refuge from fire exposure from the building and that further movement towards an open public thoroughfare may be necessary for life safety. It is not apparent to the Board how persons unfamiliar with the subject landscaped/lawn area would be aware of the further route to the open public thoroughfare. Therefore it is the determination of the Board that the landscaped/lawn area cannot be considered as an exit unless provisions are made to make the route through this area to the open public thoroughfare self-evident.

Further, it is the determination of the Board that directional exit signage would be required for the exterior passage way to indicate the singular exit direction if the subject route under appeal is not considered as an exit.

Lyle Kuhnert, Chair