BCAB #1407s - Interconnected Smoke Alarms, Subclause

November 15, 1995

BCAB #1407   

Re: Interconnected Smoke Alarms, Subclause

Project Description

This appeal involves interior renovations to an existing single family dwelling licensed as a Community Care Facility under the Community Care Facilities Act. The facility was licensed prior to the inclusion of Article in the B.C. Building Code. The renovation involved the conversion of the attached garage to a bedroom, sitting room and a hallway. A new smoke alarm was required outside the new bedroom.

Reason for Appeal

Article permits a licensed community care facility to be classified as a Group C major occupancy provided a number of conditions are complied with. In addition to the basic requirement that the facility operate as "a single housekeeping unit in a dwelling unit" the facility must have, amongst other things, "interconnected smoke alarms".

Appellant's Position

The appellant contends that the alterations did not materially alter the use of the facility. The new bedroom and sitting room allowed an existing bedroom and sitting room to be converted to a craft room and games/T.V. room respectively. Based on the minor nature of the alterations the new code requirement for interconnected smoke alarms should not be applicable. There is considerable difficulty and expense in interconnecting the new smoke alarm to the existing smoke alarms, especially the one on the upper floor. In addition, both the fire inspector and the manager of residential care facilities licensing are satisfied with the new battery operated smoke alarm as installed.

Building Official's Position

The building official maintains that because of the minor nature of the revisions and the fact that the facility predates the requirements of Article they have not applied most of the requirements of that Article. However, they have required a new hard wired smoke alarm outside the new bedroom and insisted it be interconnected with at least one other alarm on the second storey.

Appeal Board Decision #1407

It is the determination of the Board that the current B.C. Building Code, including Article, applies to the alterations to create a new bedroom and sitting room in the existing attached garage. These alterations also result in the application of Article because the additional rooms were considered to decrease the safety level below that which existed prior to the alterations. Appendix A, in item A-, suggests the authority having jurisdiction may exercise discretion in applying the code to existing buildings. Therefore, it is the function of the authority having jurisdiction, not the Appeal Board, to approve the work required to maintain the level of safety which existed prior to the alterations.

George R. Humphrey, Chair