BCAB #1853

November 19, 2020

Re: Limiting Distance/Fire Department Response Time

Project Description

The project is a six-unit residential townhouse complex where no dwelling unit is located above another. The building is of combustible and non-combustible construction, not sprinklered, and constructed under Part 9 of the BC Building Code.

The building is located within 500 meters by roadway to the responding firehall.

Applicable Code Requirements

Sentence 9.10.15.3.(1) of Division B of the British Columbia Building Code 2018.

9.10.15.3.(1) Except for the purpose of applying Sentences 9.10.15.2.(2), 9.10.15.4.(3) and 9.10.15.5.(13), a limiting distance equal to half the actual limiting distance shall be used as input to the requirements of this Subsection, where

a) the time from receipt of notification of a fire by the fire department until the first fire department vehicle arrives at the building exceeds 10 min in 10% or more of all calls to the building, and

b) any storey in the building is not sprinklered.

(See Note A-3.2.3. and A-3.2.3.1.(8).)

Decision being Appealed (Local Authority’s Position)

The fire department has indicated it cannot provide certainty that it can respond to late night after hour calls within 10 minutes or less, 90% of the time. The fire department is comprised of both full-time staff and volunteer members, and late night after hour calls are a challenge in meeting the response time when no career firefighters are on shift.

With consideration of the above, the local authority has established an operational policy throughout the jurisdiction, that all applicable buildings of new construction demonstrate compliance with Article 9.10.15.3. using response times greater than 10 minutes.

Appellant's Position

The appellant maintains that due to the physical proximity of the townhouse project being within 500 m to the firehall, a response time of 10 minutes or less is applicable. The appellant considers the volunteer firefighter response times during late night after hours inconsistent and should not be used in the application of Article 9.10.15.3.

Appeal Board Decision #1853

It is the determination of the Board that the projected response time would exceed 10 minutes in 10% or more of all calls to the subject building.

Reason for Decision

The Board’s decision is based on turn out time data provided by the local fire department. (All building fire calls in the past 18 months.) The data shows that the turn out time exceeds 10 minutes in more than 10% of calls. Therefore, total response time (turn out time plus travel time) to the subject building would exceed 10 minutes in 10 % of the calls.

The data used included calls throughout the 24-hour period as fire can occur at any time of the day.

Lyle Kuhnert

Chair, Building Code Appeal Board