BCAB #1442 - Relocation of Entrance to Existing Hotel, Article

August 20, 1997

BCAB #1442

Re: Relocation of Entrance to Existing Hotel, Article

Project Description

The building in question is an existing hotel/restaurant/pub/cabaret. The owner proposes to relocate the main entry from the west side of the building to the north side. The new doors will replace an existing smaller window and the old door location will be replaced with a smaller window.

Reason for Appeal

Article states: "Where a building is altered ... renovated ... the level of life safety ... shall not be decreased below a level that already exists." The building official maintains the level of life safety will be decreased by the proposed alterations.

Appellant's Position

The appellant contends that the proposed alterations do not increase the percentage of unprotected openings beyond that permitted by the code. Therefore the level of life safety related to unprotected openings is not decreased. This determination is based on the room in question (pub) being a fire compartment and the spatial separation calculations were done on the exterior walls of this fire compartment. The appellant also contends that the different direction of exit travel will not negatively alter the occupants ability to leave the building in an emergency.

The appellant and the building official have disagreed in the past over the condition of the building. Although the building official may not be satisfied with the safety of the rest of the building it should not be possible to deny a permit for these alterations unless they reduce the life safety of the building below its current state.

Building Official's Position

The building official disputes the limiting distance used for one of the exposing building faces, maintaining the limiting distance should be measured to a property line less than seven metres away, not over 27 metres as stated by the appellant. The building official also maintains that the room in question (pub) is not constructed as a fire compartment with a fire resistance rating and separation from the residential (hotel) occupancy above. The increase in unprotected openings increases the chance of fire spread to the already vulnerable second floor. The increase in travel distance to the relocated entrance decreases the level of life safety below that which currently exists and the current level of safety throughout the building is inadequate.

Appeal Board Decision #1442

The application of Article to existing buildings requires considerable judgment on the part of both the designer and authority having jurisdiction. In most cases the Board would have difficulty determining the levels of life safety and building performance in an existing older building. However, based solely on the information provided in this case the Board considers the minor renovations to relocate the door should not reduce life safety below existing levels.

George R. Humphrey, Chair