BCAB #1781 - Application of, Limiting Distance and Fire Department Response

April 21, 2016

BCAB #1781

Re: Application of, Limiting Distance and Fire Department Response

Project Description

The project is a one storey, unsprinklered, multi-tenant self-storage warehouse constructed to Part 9 of the BC Building Code.  

Reason for Appeal

There is a disagreement on whether the requirements of Sentence for Limiting Distance and Fire Department Response apply.  The local authority has determined that the limiting distance must be doubled in accordance with Article because the response time of 10 minutes cannot be guaranteed 90% of the time in future.  Alternatively, closures must be provided in sufficient quantity to allow the proposed limiting distance to be achieved.   Alternatively, the building could be sprinklered.

Appellant's Position

The appellant considers that a guaranteed response time from the fire department is not required by the BC Building Code. The response time should be determined using present, factual information and circumstances as noted in the Province of BC’s Building and Safety Standards Branch Bulletin B13-04.  The appellant has attained actual fire department response times for the 2015 calendar year for a radius approximately equivalent to the distance from the responding fire department to the proposed self storage warehouse, which demonstrate that Sentence does not apply.

Local Authority’s Position

The building official maintains that, although the fire department may have in past provided response times that are within the required 10 minutes, 90% of the time there is no assurance that such response times can be maintained in future.  The operation of a volunteer fire department must consider such factors as budget, volunteer fatigue, and the varying performance of volunteer fire departments.  Due to these factors, future response times of the fire department cannot be assured and the requirements of Sentence must be applied.

Appeal Board Decision # 1781

It is the determination of the Board that Sentence does not apply.

Reason for Decision

The code expects analysis of data and information on hand to be used when determining fire department response times.  For example, Appendix note A- “For new subdivisions, legal agreements may be made for the construction of fire stations to serve those areas. The fire department response time in those subdivisions may temporarily exceed 10 min until the fire station is constructed.”

Further, the Board considers that the code does not require nor expect any guarantees of future fire department response times.

Lyle Kuhnert, Chair, Building Code Appeal Board