BCAB #1679 - Guard Design to Prevent Climbing, Article

November 18, 2010

BCAB #1679

Re: Guard Design to Prevent Climbing, Article

Project Description
This appeal concerns the design of a guard on an exterior deck. The guard is constructed of alternating 3-3/8” x 3/4” and 2-3/8” x 3/4" horizontal boards spaced less than 20 mm (3/4”) apart. The gaps between the boards span 49” from post to post.

Reason for Appeal
Sentence requires guards for residential occupancies to be “designed so that no member, attachment or opening will facilitate climbing.” Sentence then states that where a guard conforms to any of four measurable characteristics, in the area between 140 mm and 900 mm above the walking surface, it shall be “deemed to comply with Sentence (1).” The measurable characteristics are elements that protrude from the vertical and are more than 450 mm apart both vertically and horizontally, provide not more than 15 mm horizontal offset, provide a toe space not more than 45 mm horizontally and 20 mm vertically or have more than a 1-in-2 slope.

Appellant’s Position
The appellant contends that the design does not facilitate or encourage children to climb the guard and presents no more hazard than other commonly accepted solid materials such as glass. The gap between the horizontal boards is less than 20 mm high in keeping with the apparent intention of Sentence (2) to prevent a toehold.

Building Official's Position
The building official maintains that Sentence (2) does not apply because there are no “protrusions from the vertical” so that one must rely on the performance requirement of Sentence (1). The building official considers that the spaced horizontal boards can facilitate climbing.

Appeal Board Decision #1678
It is the determination of the Board that the guard design in question does not conform to Sentence because it can facilitate climbing and more specifically does not conform to Clause

George Humphrey, Chair