BCAB #930 - Finished Grade and Egress from a Roof

August 20, 1987

BCAB #930

Re: Finished Grade and Egress from a Roof

With reference to your letter of June 15, 1987, which has been referred to the Appeal Board.

Our decisions on the three questions raised are as follows:

Question 1: The building in question has a complex elevation, with recessed sections forming a feature of the design, and balconies which become projecting patios at the lower level.

The Code defines "grade", and in this type of building, for the purpose of establishing building height, we take "grade" as the level from which it is possible to fight a building fire, and rescue occupants. In applying the definition to an actual situation, a realistic appraisal is necessary to ensure that these fundamental objectives are achieved. In this particular case we see no problem in applying this rationale. It does mean putting life safety before the desire to achieve aesthetic or economic objectives, but this is the purpose of the Building Code.

From the limited information provided regarding this building, we would, as an example, ignore the angled recess features, which seem to have been used in a building perimeter calculation. In the case of sunken patios there is no set decision which can be applied to all. Some are minor features which would not be serious impediments. If so they could be acceptable as "localized depressions". Others may effectively project the face of the building for fire fighting purposes, and must be considered. In this particular case they are too large, and too many, to ignore.

On the basis of the above, we are unable to accept your contention, that the elevation shown as 17.44 feet is logical for finished grade, although we note that it precisely represents a difference of 2 m from the level which you indicate as the second floor. We regard what is indicated as "main floor", to be the first storey of this building. We have ignored the "loft" level at this time, it has not been raised as a question, and details are insufficient to decide whether or not this constitutes an additional storey, or is a mezzanine. Under the circumstances the building must be considered as at least 4 storeys in height plus basement.

Question 2: In view of the decision above, this question is redundant.

Question 3: Sentence requires 2 separate means of egress from a roof, if it is used or intended for an occupant load of more than 60 persons. There is nothing, in the limited information submitted, to indicate that the roof will have any occupant load. If this is the case, one means of egress from the roof would be acceptable.

J.C. Currie, Chair