BCAB #1812

July 26, 2018

Re: Protection of Walls Exposing Other Walls

Project Description

The project is a mixed-use sprinklered building including multiple fire compartments. The proposed building design incorporates a breezeway through the first and second storeys.  Glazed unprotected openings on the first storey commercial suites look onto each side of the breezeway. A public corridor and some residential suites on the second storey also have glazed unprotected openings that overlook the breezeway. 

Applicable Code Requirement

Sentences 3.1.8.1.(1) and (2), 3.2.3.14.(1) and (3), and 3.3.4.2.(1) of Division B of the 2012 British Columbia Building Code

3.1.8.1.(1) Any wall, partition or floor assembly required to be a fire separation shall

a) except as permitted by Sentence (2), be constructed as a continuous element, and

b) as required in this Part, have a fire-resistance rating as specified (see Appendix A).

3.1.8.1.(2) Openings in a fire separation shall be protected with closures, shafts or other means in conformance with Articles 3.1.8.4. to 3.1.8.17. and Subsections 3.1.9. and 3.2.8. (See Appendix A.)

3.2.3.14.(1) Except as required by Sentences (3) and 3.2.3.13.(1) or as permitted by Sentence 3.2.3.19.(4), if an unprotected opening in an exterior wall of a fire compartment is exposed to an unprotected opening in the exterior wall of another fire compartment, and the planes of the 2 walls are parallel or at an angle less than 135°, measured from the exterior of the building, the unprotected openings in the  2 fire compartments shall be separated by a distance not less than Do where Do = 2D − ((θ /90) x D) but in no case less than 1 m, and

D= the greater required limiting distance for the exposing building faces of the 2 fire compartments, and

θ= the angle made by the intersecting planes of the exposing building faces of the 2 fire compartments (in the case where the exterior walls are parallel and face each other, θ = 0°).

(See Appendix A.)

3.2.3.14.(3) Sentence (1) does not apply to unprotected openings of fire compartments within a building that is sprinklered throughout, but shall apply to

a) unprotected openings of fire compartments on opposite sides of a firewall, and

b) exposure from unprotected openings of a fire compartment that is not protected by an automatic sprinkler system.

3.3.4.2.(1) Except as permitted by Sentences (2) and 3.2.2.9.(2), suites of residential occupancy shall be separated from each other and the remainder of the building by a fire separation having a fire-resistance rating not less than 1 h.

Decision being Appealed (Local Authority’s Position)

The local authority has determined that the glazed openings in the first storey fire compartments on opposing sides of the breezeway require protection, and also that the glazed portions of the public corridor on the second floor overlooking the breezeway are openings in a rated fire separation and require protection.

Appellant's Position

The appellant maintains that Sentence 3.2.3.14.(1) does not apply and that the Code has no requirements for the public corridor to be constructed as a fire separation where it overlooks the breezeway.

Appeal Board Decision # 1812

It is the determination of the Board that the openings between the breezeway and the remainder of the building require protection.

Reason for Decision

The Board considers the breezeway to be part of a means of egress and the applicable code provisions apply, including but not limited to Sections 3.1, 3.3. and 3.4. apply.

The Board acknowledges that as the building is sprinklered throughout, in accordance with Sentence 3.2.3.14.(3) the requirements of Sentence 3.2.3.14.(1) do not apply.  The Board considers the breezeway to be part of the building, but not part of the floor area.

Lyle Kuhnert

Chair, Building Code Appeal Board