Part 3 - Appendix A - Division B

A-3    Application of Part 3.

A-3    Application of Part 3. In applying the requirements of this Part, it is intended that they be applied with discretion to buildings of unusual configuration that do not clearly conform to the specific requirements, or to buildings in which processes are carried out which make compliance with particular requirements in this Part impracticable. The definition of “building” as it applies to this By-law is general and encompasses most structures, including those which would not normally be considered as buildings in the layman's sense. This occurs more often in industrial uses, particularly those involving manufacturing facilities and equipment that require specialized design that may make it impracticable to follow the specific requirements of this Part. Steel mills, aluminum plants, refining, power generation and liquid storage facilities are examples. A water tank or an oil refinery, for example, has no floor area, so it is obvious that requirements for exits from floor areas would not apply. Requirements for structural fire protection in large steel mills and pulp and paper mills, particularly in certain portions, may not be practicable to achieve in terms of the construction normally used and the operations for which the space is to be used. In other portions of the same building, however, it may be quite reasonable to require that the provisions of this Part be applied (e.g., the office portions). Similarly, areas of industrial occupancy which may be occupied only periodically by service staff, such as equipment penthouses, normally would not need to have the same type of exit facility as floor areas occupied on a continuing basis. It is expected that judgment will be exercised in evaluating the application of a requirement in those cases when extenuating circumstances require special consideration, provided the occupants' safety is not endangered.

The provisions in this Part for fire protection features installed in buildings are intended to provide a minimum acceptable level of public safety. It is intended that all fire protection features of a building, whether required or not, will be designed in conformance with good fire protection engineering practice and will meet the appropriate installation requirements in relevant standards. Good design is necessary to ensure that the level of public safety established by the By-law requirements will not be reduced by a voluntary installation.

Firefighting Assumptions

The requirements of this Part are based on the assumption that firefighting capabilities are available in the event of a fire emergency. These firefighting capabilities may take the form of a paid or volunteer public fire department or in some cases a private fire brigade. If these firefighting capabilities are not available, additional fire safety measures may be required.

Firefighting capability can vary from municipality to municipality. Generally, larger municipalities have greater firefighting capability than smaller ones. Similarly, older, well established municipalities may have better firefighting facilities than newly formed or rapidly growing ones. The level of municipal fire protection considered to be adequate will normally depend on both the size of the municipality (i.e., the number of buildings to be protected) and the size of buildings within that municipality. Since larger buildings tend to be located in larger municipalities, they are generally, but not always, favoured with a higher level of municipal protection.

Although it is reasonable to consider that some level of municipal firefighting capability was assumed in developing the fire safety provisions in Part 3, this was not done on a consistent or defined basis. The requirements in the By-law, while developed in the light of commonly prevailing municipal fire protection levels, do not attempt to relate the size of building to the level of municipal protection. The responsibility for controlling the maximum size of building to be permitted in a municipality in relation to local firefighting capability rests with the municipality. If a proposed building is too large, either in terms of floor area or building height, to receive reasonable protection from the municipal fire department, fire protection requirements in addition to those prescribed in this By-law, may be necessary to compensate for this deficiency. Automatic sprinkler protection may be one option to be considered.

Alternatively, the municipality may, in light of its firefighting capability, elect to introduce zoning restrictions to ensure that the maximum building size is related to available municipal fire protection facilities. This is, by necessity, a somewhat arbitrary decision and should be made in consultation with the local firefighting service, who should have an appreciation of their capability to fight fires.

The requirements of Subsection 3.2.3. are intended to prevent fire spread from thermal radiation assuming there is adequate firefighting available. It has been found that periods of from 10 to 30 minutes usually elapse between the outbreak of fire in a building that is not protected with an automatic sprinkler system and the attainment of high radiation levels. During this period, the specified spatial separations should prove adequate to inhibit ignition of an exposed building face or the interior of an adjacent building by radiation. Subsequently, however, reduction of the fire intensity by firefighting and the protective wetting of the exposed building face will often be necessary as supplementary measures to inhibit fire spread.

In the case of a building that is sprinklered throughout, the automatic sprinkler system should control the fire to an extent that radiation to neighbouring buildings should be minimal. Although there will be some radiation effect on a sprinklered building from a fire in a neighbouring building, the internal sprinkler system should control any fires that might be ignited in the building and thereby minimize the possibility of the fire spreading into the exposed building. NFPA 80A, “Protection of Buildings from Exterior Fire Exposures,” provides additional information on the possibility of fire spread at building exteriors.

The water supply requirements for fire protection installations depend on the requirements of any automatic sprinkler installations and also on the number of fire streams that may be needed at any fire, having regard to the length of time the streams will have to be used. Both these factors are largely influenced by the conditions at the building to be equipped, and the quantity and pressure of water needed for the protection of both the interior and exterior of the building must be ascertained before the water supply is decided upon. Acceptable water supplies may be a public waterworks system that has adequate pressure and discharge capacity, automatic fire pumps, pressure tanks, manually controlled fire pumps in combination with pressure tanks, gravity tanks, and manually controlled fire pumps operated by remote control devices at each hose station.

A-3.1.2.    Use Classification. The purpose of classification is to determine which requirements apply. This By-law requires classification in accordance with every major occupancy for which the building is used or intended to be used. Where necessary, an application clause has been inserted in this Part to explain how to choose between the alternative requirements which multiple occupancy classification may present.

A-    Major Occupancy Classification. The following are examples of the major occupancy classifications described in Table

A-    Arena Regulation. The use of an arena is regulated in the Vancouver Fire By-law.

A-   Child Day Care Facility. The term Child Day Care Facility means the use of premises to provide care, supervision, social or educational training to children as defined by the Community Care Facilities Act and the Child Care Regulation made pursuant to the Community Care Facilities Act. It includes but is not limited to group day care, preschool, special needs day care, out of school care, emergency care, child minding or overnight care.

A-   Vertical Fire Separation. A vertical fire separation, if required by Table, between major occupancies is required around the perimeter of mezzanines and openings through interconnected floors when the requirements of Articles to are not met.

A- and A-   Artist Live/Work Studios. Artists Live/Work Studios are a unique occupancy in that they integrate Group C residential occupancies with Group F Division 2 occupancies (medium hazard industrial arts facilities). Accordingly, their fire safety design is required to incorporate the life safety requirements of residential buildings together with the higher fire load associated with Group F Division 2 occupancies.

The Zoning and Development By-law classifies Artist Live/Work Studios under two groups, Artist Studio — Class A and Artist Studio — Class B. Artist Studios — Class A means the use of premises for the production of dance, live music, creative writing, painting, drawings, pottery or sculpture, video, moving or still photography, none of which involves amplified sound or one or more or the processes specified under Artist Studio — Class B. Artist Studio — Class B means the use of premises for the production of dance or live music involving the electronically amplified sound; moving or still photography (excluding video) involving on-site film processing; and paintings, drawings, pottery or sculpture involving the use of fiberglass, epoxy and other toxic or hazardous materials or one or more of the following processes: welding, woodworking, spray painting, silk screening or fired ceramics.

A-   Minimum Live Load. Floor areas designated as solely residential, e.g. sleeping lofts, dinettes or bathrooms, may be designed for a minimum live load of 1.9 kPa.

A-    Thermal Barrier in Combustible Construction. Any thermal barrier that is accepted under the requirements of Sentence for noncombustible construction is also acceptable for combustible construction.

A-    Wire and Cable Equivalence. Electrical wires and cables that conform to the requirements of Sentence are deemed to satisfy the requirements of Sentence

A-    Raceway Definition. The term raceway is defined in CSA C22.1, “Canadian Electrical Code, Part I,” and includes both rigid and flexible conduit.

A-    Skylight Spacing. The minimum spacing dimensions for skylight assemblies are based on the distance that flame must travel along a flat ceiling surface. If ceilings have projecting beams or other features that would increase the distance the flame would have to travel along the surface, the distances specified may be measured accordingly.

A-    Combustible Cladding. These requirements allow for exterior wall assemblies incorporating combustible cladding elements on buildings of noncombustible construction. Since the tested assemblies must be representative of actual construction, the performance of the entire assembly is assessed with regard to its ability to resist flame propagation up the outside of a building. The thermal barrier protection limits the impact of an interior fire on the wall assembly.

These requirements, in combination, thus allow for wall assemblies containing both combustible cladding elements and non-loadbearing combustible framing members. These wall assemblies can be used as infill or panel type walls between structural elements, or attached directly to a loadbearing noncombustible structural system. These requirements, however, do not waive others specifically intended for the protection of combustible insulation in buildings of noncombustible construction.

These requirements are predicated upon the assumption that the manufacturing process and field installation procedure are both carried out under an independent quality assurance program designed to confirm that the product and its application are consistent with the system as tested.

A-    Flame-Spread Distance. The maximum flame-spread distance refers to the distance between the top of the opening and the highest observable instance of flaming along the wall assembly and thus allows intermittent flaming to a height of 5 m above the opening.

A-    Heat Flux Measurement. The heat flux to the assembly referred to in Sentence is the maximum one-minute averaged heat flux measured by transducers located 3.5 m above the top of the opening. The intent of this criterion is to limit the spread of fire on the wall assembly to a height of 3.5 m above the opening. Since the exact location of flaming on the exterior surface of a wall assembly can be influenced by the presence of furring strips, cavities, etc., in the assembly, which could channel the flame away from a heat flux transducer, sufficient transducers should be located at any given height to intercept any flaming that could occur along the assembly. The exact position of the transducers will depend on the location of cavities, joints, studs or furring strips in the assembly.

A-    Foamed Plastic Insulation Protection. The standard fire exposure temperature in CAN/ULC-S101, “Fire Endurance Tests of Building Construction and Materials,” is the same as in CAN4-S124-M, “Test for the Evaluation of Protective Coverings for Foamed Plastic.” A thermal barrier that, when tested in conformance with CAN/ULC-S101, “Fire Endurance Tests of Building Construction and Materials,” will not exceed an average temperature rise of 140°C on its unexposed face after a period of 10 min satisfies this requirement.

A-    Wire and Cable Flammability. In regulating the flammability characteristics of electrical wires and cables installed in a building, it is intended that the requirements of this Sentence and of other similar Sentences in the By-law apply to wires and cables that are essentially a part of the distribution systems for power or communications. These distribution systems will normally include branch circuits that terminate at an outlet box in the space to be served and at that location cable terminators or plugs for individual items of equipment will be plugged in.

A-3.1.6.    Tents and Air-Supported Structures. The requirements in this Subsection are intended to be limited to certain types of structure. For instance, the word “tent” as used in the By-law is intended to refer to a temporary shelter which is used at an open air event such as a fair or an exhibition. A tent will normally be constructed of a fabric held up by poles and attached to the ground by ties. The requirements for tents, however, are not intended to be applied to fabric structures located on buildings.

The term “air-supported structure,” as used in the By-law, refers to an envelope which is held up by air pressure alone and which is erected on the ground or above a basement. The structure will usually require ballast or a positive ground anchorage system around the entire perimeter to secure it to the ground or basement. To reinforce this intent, the By-law prohibits the location of an air-supported structure above the first storey of any building.

The requirements of Subsection 3.1.6. are not intended to apply to air-supported roof assemblies on buildings, such as domed stadia, or to other types of air-supported structures, such as those over swimming pools situated on the roofs of buildings, which would not be anchored at or near ground level. These assemblies or structures are normally designed and evaluated on the basis of equivalents as permitted by Article of Division A.

A-    Barrier to Control Smoke Spread. Although a fire separation is not always required to have a fire-resistance rating, the fire separation should act as a barrier to the spread of smoke and fire until some response is initiated. If the fire-resistance rating of a fire separation is waived on the basis of the presence of an automatic sprinkler system, it is intended that the fire separation will be constructed so that it will remain in place and act as a barrier against the spread of smoke for a period of time until the sprinklers have actuated and controlled the fire.

A-    Installation of Closures. Although there is no explicit performance statement in the NBC, that means of egress should be free of smoke, it is the intent that during the period when occupants are using a means of egress to evacuate from a floor area, the smoke contamination should not reach levels that would inhibit movement to the exit. This is particularly critical for persons with disabilities, who may not move at the same rate as other persons and who could be more susceptible to the effects of smoke contamination. NFPA 80, “Fire Doors and Fire Windows,” requires that a fire door protecting a means of egress be designed to minimize the possibility of smoke passing through the opening.

Although self-closing devices are not required for all doors in a fire separation (see Article, it is assumed that in a fire situation every door in a fire separation is closed. Article prohibits grilles and similar openings for certain doors in hospitals and nursing homes.

Although fire dampers that release on the fusion of a fusible link will help to control the spread of fire, a substantial quantity of smoke could have passed through the opening before that event. They are frequently located below the upper levels of a room and so the release of the fusible link of the fire damper that protects an opening will be delayed until the temperature at the level of the opening becomes high enough to fuse the link.

Similar concern has to be considered for other closure devices that are permitted to remain open on fusible links, and their location should be restricted in accordance with NFPA 80, “Fire Doors and Fire Windows,” and the NBC, except where their installation in another location will not allow the products of combustion to spread into means of egress.

A-    Fire Separation Continuity. The continuity of a fire separation where it abuts against another fire separation, a floor, a ceiling or an exterior wall assembly is maintained by filling all openings at the juncture of the assemblies with a material that will ensure the integrity of the fire separation at that location.

A-    Fire Damper Access. It is intended that an access door be provided in the duct and, if the duct is enclosed with an architectural finish, that a second access door be provided through that finish.

A-    Wired Glass and Glass Block. The permission to include wired glass and glass block in doors and fire separations between an exit and the adjacent floor area does not permit the inclusion of those items in fire separations between exits and other parts of the building that are not included in the floor area. Examples include other exit facilities and vertical service spaces, including those used for building services and elevator hoistways.

A-    Fire-Protection Rating for Doors. The provisions in Articles, and do not waive a requirement for a door to have a fire-protection rating. To achieve this rating in a door test, it may be necessary to limit the area of glass in the door. If this area is less than the area limits of Article, it is the governing criterion. Conversely, if the area limits of Article are less than the area required to achieve a fire-protection rating, then the area limits of this Article govern.

A-3.1.9.    Service Penetrations. In the application of Subsection 3.1.9., a building service is considered to penetrate an assembly if it passes into or through the assembly. In some situations a service item enters an assembly through a membrane at one location, runs within the assembly, and then leaves the assembly through a membrane at another location.

A-    Service Penetration. The intention behind the use of the term “cast in place” is to reinforce that there are to be no gaps between the building service and the membrane it penetrates. The term ”cast in place” describes a typical means of fire stopping for a service penetration through a concrete slab or wall.

A-    Penetration of Fire Separations by Electrical Boxes. The provisions dealing with outlet boxes assume size, quantities and concentrations of partial depth penetrations that would not significantly affect the fire resistance of the assembly, including the temperature rise on the unexposed side of a wall. Sentence is not intended to allow large electrical distribution and control boxes to be recessed into an assembly required to have a fire-resistance rating unless they were incorporated in the assembly at the time of testing.

A-    Firewall Construction. Inherent in the use of a firewall is the intent that this specialized wall construction provide the required fire-resistance rating while also being designed to resist physical damage—arising out of normal use—that would compromise the rating of the assembly. Traditionally, this has been accomplished by prescribing the use of noncombustible materials, which was in fact restricted to concrete or masonry. Sentences and (4) are intended to retain both of the characteristics of firewalls, while permitting greater flexibility in the use of materials and designs. The fire-resistance rating and damage protection attributes of a firewall may be provided by a single fire- and damage-resistant material such as concrete or masonry, by a fire- and damage-resistant membrane on a structural frame, or by separate components—one that provides the fire-resistance rating and another one that protects the firewall against damage.

If the firewall is composed of separate components, the fire-resistance rating of the fire-resistive component needs to be determined for this assembly on its own. In addition, if the damage protection component is physically attached to the fire-resistive component (for example, as a sacrificial layer), then for the purposes of determining the overall performance of the assembly, it is also necessary to determine through testing whether failure of the damage protection component during a fire affects the performance of the fire-resistive component.

A-    Fire Stopping in Combustible Construction.

A-    Fire Stopping in Combustible Construction. Combustible construction referred to in Sentence includes all types of construction that do not comply with the requirements for noncombustible construction. All the elements within the concealed space can be combustible, unless required to be of noncombustible materials (e.g., certain categories of pipework and ducts), but the value of the flame-spread rating of the combustible materials determines the permitted extent of the concealed space between fire stops. The materials to be considered include all construction materials regulated by this By-law, including the framing and building services that are located in the concealed space.

A-    Fire Stopping. Figure A- shows the location of the semi-rigid fibre insulation board at the intersection between walls and floors in wood-frame construction. The figure is intended to illustrate the fire stopping detail and not a design of a fire separation.

Figure A-

Fire stopping

A-    Folding Partition. Folding partitions used to divide a space into separate rooms are not considered as doors for the purposes of this Sentence.

A-   Overhead Skylight Glazing and Anchorage. This sentence requires glazing to remain in place, when fractured and when subject to impact by flying objects, for conditions not regulated elsewhere in this By-law. Other types of glazing such as tempered, annealed or heat strengthened glass has long been recognized as a potential hazard when located overhead and normally requires protective screens to protect occupants below from injury caused by falling glass.

A-    Mezzanine Area. The following sketches illustrate the intent of this Sentence.

Figure A- -A

Concept of Horizontal Plane

Notes to Figure A- -A

(1)  The horizontal plane (A, the dashed line) is measured at the mezzanine floor finish line.
(2)  At least 60% of the horizontal plane (B) must be open to the floorspace below.

Figure A- -B

Intersection Point

Notes to Figure A- -B

(1)  This Figure describes Clause
(2)  The length of the horizontal plane (A) is taken from the rear of the mezzannine to the point it intersects a wall, ceiling, roof or other major component.

Figure A- -C

Projections, Including Guards

Notes to Figure A- -C

(1)  This Figure describes Clause
(2)  Projections should not be permitted below the horizontal plane (A, the dashed line). This includes large beams, trusses, the roofline, or any other projection that will impede vision lines.
(3)  Visual obstructions onthe mezzanine may include 1 070 mm high guards, and columns, posts and other structural elements of a minor nature.

Figure A- -D

Enclosed Spaces within a Mezzanine

Notes to Figure A- -D

(1)  This Figure describes Sentence
(2)  The horizontal plane is demonstrated by the dashed line, A.
(3)  Up to 10% of the horizontal plane may be enclosed. This must be located so as to avoid contravening the open requirements of Clause; in effect no dead areas are permitted.

If a floor has more than one mezzanine, each may be treated individually. For example in a one storey building with five tenancies, each tenant would be permitted to have a mezzanine up to the limits indicated, without the building being considered two storeys in building height. However, should one of the mezzanines exceed any of the limitations the building would then be considered to be two storeys in building height.

Regarding the floor space under a mezzanine, there are no restrictions on partition construction in this area. The space on the floor beyond the mezzanine, i.e. below the open portion of the horizontal plane should, with discretion, be visually open to view from the mezzanine.

A-    Mezzanines in Suites.. The defined term "suite" in this case could be equally applicable to a suite in an apartment or commercial building, or even an entire storey such as may occur in a curling rink. There may be more than one enclosed mezzanine in the suite but in no instance can the combined total mezzanine area exceed 10 per cent of the suite in which they are located.

Figure A- -A

Mezzanines in Suites

Notes to Figure A- -A

(1)  This Figure describes Clause
(2)  Mezzanines up to 10% of area of a suite (A) may be enclosed.
(3)  More than one mezzanine (B) is permitted in a suite provided the total area of mezzanines does not exceed 10% of the suite in which they are located.

Figure A- -B

Mezzanines in Multi-Room Suites

Notes to Figure A- -B

(1)  This Figure describes Clauses and (b).
(2)  The curling rink has several ‘rooms,’ but should be regarded as ‘one suite.’ The enclosed mezzanine may be up to 10% of the area of the entire suite.

Figure A- -C

Mezzanines in Multi-Tenanted Suites

Notes to Figure A- -C

(1)  This Figure describes Clauses and (b).
(2)  In this example, the 10% of the suite area is of Suite ‘A’ as if it is part of that series of rooms, or suite. It has no user of tenant relationship with Suite ‘B.’ (Suite ‘B’ may also have 10% of totally enclosed mezzanines).

A-    Accessible Service Space. These service spaces are often referred to as interstitial spaces and are designed to allow service personnel to enter and undertake maintenance or installation within the space. Catwalks or flooring are usually included to provide a walking or access surface. Even when flooring is included, it is not intended that the interstitial space should be considered as a storey for the purposes of the By-law unless the space is used for purposes other than servicing or the storage of materials and equipment to be used for building services within that space.

A-    Special and Unusual Structures. Examples of structures which cannot be identified with the descriptions of buildings in Articles to include grain elevators, refineries and towers. Publications that may be consulted to establish good engineering practice for the purposes of Article include the NFPA Fire Protection Handbook, Factory Mutual Data Sheets, and publications of the Society for Fire Protection Engineering.

A-   Fire Separations and Fire-Resistance Ratings. Fire separations and their corresponding fire resistance rating if required may or may not be governed by the structural fire requirements under Subsection 3.2.2. In establishing the fire separation and fire-resistance rating requirements the practitioner must remember to consult all requirements for fire separations and fire resistance ratings as detailed in Sections 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, and 3.5. (See Article

A-    Sprinkler Extent. A literal interpretation of Article and Sentences and (2) could require installation of an automatic sprinkler system throughout all storeys of a building regardless of options in Articles to to construct one or more storeys without installation of sprinklers. It is the intent of the By-law that all storeys below a storey in which an automatic sprinkler system is installed should also be protected by an automatic sprinkler system to ensure that a fire in a lower storey does not incapacitate the automatic sprinkler system or overwhelm an automatic sprinkler system in an upper storey. Persons in an upper storey in which waivers or reductions of other fire safety systems are permitted would be exposed to an increased risk from a fire on a lower storey. This concept also applies to situations in which an automatic sprinkler system has been installed within a floor area in order to modify other safety requirements applying within the floor area. If the uppermost storey or storeys of a building can be constructed without the installation of an automatic sprinkler system it is not necessary that an automatic sprinkler system required in a lower storey be extended into the upper storey or storeys.

A-    Sprinkler Requirements. Spaces in a building of Group A, Division 4 occupancy that are intended to be equipped with sprinklers include, but are not limited to, dressing and changing rooms, concession stands and areas, toilet rooms, locker rooms, storage areas, service rooms, offices and other spaces that provide service to the building. The enclosure of seating areas with glazing needs special consideration in determining the requirements for sprinklers. For example, if the enclosed area is used for the consumption of food and beverages, it should be classified as Group A, Division 2 and the appropriate requirements of that classification applied. Enclosure of limited spaces above seating areas for press and media purposes is not considered to require the installation of sprinklers.

A-    Spatial Separation Design. In the application of Sentences and (4) it is intended that Sentence (3) be used first to establish the basic requirements for the exterior wall in terms of fire-resistance rating, type of construction and type of cladding. The percentage of unprotected openings determined from the application of Sentence (3) would be unnecessarily restrictive if the actual unprotected openings occur in a plane that is set back from the front of the building face.

Sentence (4) applies to the calculation of the allowable percentage of unprotected openings based upon projection onto a plane that is in front of all unprotected openings. The application of these two Sentences is shown in Figure A- The modifications permitted by Article would be applied, if applicable, to the area of unprotected openings derived from Sentence (4).

Figure A-

Spatial separation design

A-    Noncombustible Cladding. The requirement for the exterior protection of foamed plastic insulation in an exposing building face is intended to limit the exposure of the insulation to flames, thereby reducing the possibility of increased radiation to an exposed building. The permission to use combustible cladding systems conforming to Article does not waive the requirements for noncombustible construction or noncombustible cladding in Sentences and (4).

A-   Garages Facing Lanes. This provision allows unprotected openings where a 6 m city lane exists, without requiring 25% cross ventilation.

A-    Wall Exposed to Another Wall. The requirements of this Article are to ensure that the control of fire spread by the interior fire separations between fire compartments is not defeated through the spread of fire by thermal radiation outside the building. Minimum spatial separations are specified between the openings in separate fire compartments where the exterior faces of these compartments are deemed to expose each other to a thermal radiation hazard. This situation may arise where the angle, θ, between the intersecting planes of the exposing building faces is 135° or less. Examples are shown in Figures A-, A- and A- of situations which would be addressed by this Article.

Figure A- -A

Openings in walls at a right-angle corner

Figure A- -B

Openings in walls that are parallel to one another

Figure A- -C

Openings in walls with an included angle of 45°

A-3.2.4.    Fire Alarm System. The term “fire alarm system” used in this Subsection applies to fire alarm systems with or without voice communication capability.

A-    Single Stage Fire Alarm System. This requirement, in combination with Article, is intended to allow for the provision of voice communication capability as an integral part of a single stage fire alarm system.

A-    Fire Alarm Alert Signal. In a 2 stage fire alarm system described in Sentence, the alert signal may be transmitted to audible signal devices in designated locations or to audible signal devices throughout the building. If actuated, the second stage alarm signal in a 2 stage fire alarm system may sound throughout all zones in the building. All manual station key switches would typically initiate the alarm signal.

Sentence also allows the implementation of a “zoned 2-stage” sequence of operation, whereby the alarm signal sounds in the zone of key switch actuation (and perhaps in the adjacent zones, which may be the storey above and the storey below) and the alert signal sounds throughout the rest of the building. This sequencing would be created automatically by the fire alarm control unit.

A-    Fire Alarm Alert Signal. The key or special device referred to in Clause should be immediately available to all persons on duty who have been given authority to sound an alarm signal.

A-    Two Stage Fire Alarm System. Sentence, in combination with Article, is intended to allow for the provision of voice communication capability as an integral part of a 2 stage fire alarm system.

A-    Access to Silencing Switches.

A-    Access to Silencing Switches. This requirement is intended to prevent easy access to silencing switches. The satisfactory operation of a fire alarm system to alert the occupants of a building to an emergency is predicated on the assumption that the alarm signal will be silenced only after responsible staff have verified that no emergency exists. Details on the emergency procedures to be used in case of fire are contained in the Vancouver Fire By-law.

A-   Silencing Alarms. This requirement is intended to provide the Vancouver Fire Department and building management the ability to silence the fire alarm at the main annunciator (in addition to the main control panel). A special keyed switch is considered to meet the intent of this requirement.

A-    Fire Department Notification. In some jurisdictions, the fire department may utilize, or have available, a municipal fire alarm system or equipment intended for receiving notification by means of a direct connection. If used, it is expected that these systems and installations conform to the requirements of Sentence (4) so as to achieve and provide a uniform and reliable level of service. It is also intended that a proprietary central station as well as a fire brigade used by a large corporation, university campus or similar site comply with Sentence (4).

A-    Emergency Telephone Number. In many municipalities an emergency telephone number, for example 911, is used for all emergency services and it is preferable to post that number.

A-    Fire Alarm Zones. Alarm initiating devices referred to in this Sentence include fire detectors, waterflow switches and manual stations. If a room or space in a building extends through more than one storey of the building, as in the case of multi-level dwelling units and machinery rooms, judgment must be exercised in the zoning and annunciation of the fire detectors in that room or space. In general, the lowest storey on which access is provided into the room or space should be indicated on the annunciator to avoid unnecessary delays for the responding firefighters. Consideration should also be given to the use of numbers or letters on the annunciator that correspond to those used in the building elevators.

A-    Supervision for Fire Pumps. Specific electrical supervision for fire pumps is stated in NFPA 20, “Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection,” which is referenced in NFPA 13, “Installation of Sprinkler Systems.”

A-    Smoke Detector Location. In the design and installation of the smoke detection system, consideration must be given to all features which could have a bearing on the location and sensitivity of the detectors, including ceiling height, sloped ceilings, diffusion from air conditioning and ventilating currents, obstructions, baffles, and other pertinent physical configurations that might interfere with the proper operation of the system.

A-    Visible Signals. If staff located in each zone or compartment can see each sleeping room door, visible signals may be located above each door. If staff cannot see every door, it is intended that the visible signals be provided at the location where the staff are normally in attendance. The audible signal is intended to alert staff of the need to check the visible signals.

A-    Manual Station. Only one manual station need be provided near a group of doors serving as a principal entrance or as a single exit facility.

A-    Acoustic Measurement and Terminology. The following notes on acoustic measurement and terminology are intended to assist in the application of the requirements for audibility of fire alarm system sounding devices.

The background or ambient measurement should be a spatial averaged A-weighted equivalent sound level measured for 60 s. This can be obtained using an integrating sound level meter with the integration time set to 60 s. During the measurement period the meter should be slowly moved about so as to sample the space uniformly but coming no closer than 0.5 m from any solid wall, floor or ceiling. Alternatively, measurements can be made at 3 or more positions throughout the space and an energy average calculated.

The measurement of the alarm level depends on the type of alarm signal. If the signal is a continuous signal from a bell or siren, the spatial averaged A-weighted equivalent sound level should be obtained. The integration time should be long enough to obtain a reasonable spatial average of the space, but not less than 10 s.

If the alarm has a temporal pattern, then the A-weighted sound level should be measured using the `fast' time constant during the `on' part of the cycle. In this situation it is not appropriate to use an integrating sound level meter. Since the duty cycle of the alarm is only 37.5% at best, that type of meter would give a reading that is 4 or more decibels lower than the level while the alarm is `on.' A number of measurements should be made about the space in question and the average value used to obtain a good spatial representation. Strictly speaking, the energy average of the measurements should be used; however, the frequency spectrum associated with most alarms is of a type that should give little variation about the space. If the measured levels don't vary by more than 2 to 3 dB, then an arithmetic average rather than an energy average can be used.

Effect of Furnishings

The final inspection of a fire alarm system is seldom made when the building is furnished and ready for occupancy. This results in measured levels which may be several decibels higher than will be found in the occupied building. The importance of this difference depends on the situation.

If the building is complete except for furnishings, so that the sources of ambient noise are present, then the amount by which the alarm signal exceeds the ambient level will not change appreciably with the introduction of furnishings. In this case both levels will be reduced by about the same amount.

If the primary source of ambient noise will be office equipment and workers, as would be expected in an open plan office, then measurements made prior to occupancy may differ substantially from those made afterwards. This may be true for both the absolute sound levels and the difference between the alarm level and the ambient.

A problem arises in trying to estimate what the absolute sound levels will be after the building is occupied.

In general, if the measurement is made in a totally bare room then the level will be about 3 dB higher than if the room were carpeted, assuming a reasonable carpet with an underlay. In most cases this will account for most of the absorption in the room and no further correction will be necessary. Adding heavy drapes and absorptive furnishings to a carpeted room can reduce the sound level by a further 2 to 3 dB.

Commercial buildings are more problematic. For example, if an open plan office is measured before any office screens are installed, there could be a substantial difference in the before and after levels, depending on the distance to the nearest alarm device.

Glossary of Acoustical Terms

Audible: A signal is usually considered to be clearly audible if the A-weighted sound level exceeds the level of ambient noise by 15 dB or more.

Awakening threshold: The level of sound that will awaken a sleeping subject 50% of the time.

A-weighted: A frequency weighting network which emphasizes the middle frequency components similar to the response of the human ear. The A-weighted sound level correlates well with subjective assessment of the disturbing effects of sounds. The quantity is expressed in dBA.

Masked threshold: The level of sound at which a signal is just audible in ambient noise.

Sound level: A sound pressure level obtained using a signal to which a standard frequency-weighting has been applied.

Sound pressure: A fluctuating pressure superimposed on the static pressure by the presence of sound. The unqualified term means the root-mean-square sound pressure. In air, the static pressure is barometric pressure.

Sound pressure level: Ten times the common logarithm of the ratio of the square of the sound pressure under consideration to the square of the standard reference pressure of 20 mPa. The quantity obtained is expressed in decibels.

A-    Alert and Alarm Signals. Alert signals are part of a 2 stage fire alarm system. The intent of the first, alert, stage is to notify persons in authority of a potential threat to building occupants. If a continuously staffed location is available, the alert signal can be restricted to that location.

A-    Alarm Signal Temporal Pattern. The temporal pattern of an alarm signal relates to the time during which the signal is produced and the intervals between the individual signal pulses. The international standard ISO 8201, “Acoustics – Audible emergency evacuation signal,” includes a pattern that is becoming widely used in different countries and it is appropriate for this pattern to be adopted in Canada. The temporal pattern can be produced on most signalling devices. Most existing alarm systems can be modified, and this pattern could be phased in when the systems require modification. The characteristic of the pattern is a 3-pulse phase followed by an off phase. The 3 pulses each consist of an on phase lasting for 0.5 ± 0.05 s followed by an off phase lasting for 0.5 ± 0.05 s sounded for 3 successive on periods and then followed by an off phase lasting for 1.5 ± 0.15 s. A- indicates the pattern that is intended.

Figure A- -A

Temporal pattern for fire alarm signal

Although the diagram shows a square wave form, the wave can have other shapes that produce a similar effect.

If single stroke bells are to be used, the temporal pattern can be produced by having the bell struck three times at a rate of one stroke per second followed by an interval of 2 s of silence. Figure A- shows the pattern that results.

Figure A- -B

Temporal pattern imposed on a single stroke bell or chime

Note to Figure A- -B

(1)  The on phase represents the time that the striker mechanism is actuated. The sound produced by the bell or chime will continue at a level that decreases until the striker mechanism is re-actuated.

A-    Audibility of Alarm Systems. It is very difficult to specify exactly what types of sound patterns are considered to be “significantly different” from one another. The intent is to ensure that there is a noticeable or measurable difference between the alert signals and the alarm signals such that it reduces the possibility of confusion.

A-    Sound Pressure Level. For the purposes of this requirement, an audible signalling device should not produce a sound pressure level more than 110 dBA when measured at a distance of 3 m.

A-    Residential Sound Level. In a building in which corridors or hallways serve more than one suite or dwelling unit, there will be situations in which an audible signal device cannot be placed in the corridor or hallway to alert persons sleeping in suites and dwelling units, because the sound level in the vicinity of the device would exceed that permitted by Sentence In these situations it will be necessary to supplement the building fire alarm system with an audible signal device in the suite or dwelling unit. These devices could be piezoelectric devices similar to the sounding units in many smoke alarms, subject to the device emitting the appropriate temporal pattern required by Sentence

A-    Disconnect Device for Dwelling Units. In order to minimize the annoyance caused by false and unwanted alarms, the disconnect will permit a person to silence the local audible device within the dwelling unit. At that time the person would be aware of sounds from devices in common spaces and could plan appropriate action. The disconnect will reduce the possibility of tampering with the audible devices.

A-    Signal Circuits. Clause permits Class A wiring, or Class B wiring with signal circuit isolators located outside of the suites, to serve audible signal devices within residential suites.

Clause permits a separate signal circuit to serve each suite without the need for signal circuit isolators or Class A wiring.

Open circuits and Class A and Class B wiring circuits are terms defined in CAN/ULC-S524, “Installation of Fire Alarm Systems.”

A-    Visual Alarm Signal. CAN/ULC S526, “Visible Signal Devices for Fire Alarm Systems,”published by Underwriters' Laboratories of Canada, applies to visual signalling units. This document is referenced by the most recent standard for the installation of fire alarm systems and would automatically apply. Current Canadian technology does not integrate visual and audible alarms to have the same temporal pattern. Visual and audible alarms should have as close a temporal pattern as possible but without interference beats that might have a deleterious effect on some persons. Visual signalling devices with the same temporal pattern as required for audible devices are available from some sources and they should become available in Canada. Not all units that comply with the ULC standard will have sufficient power to adequately cover large areas; care will have to be taken to specify units with adequate power when large spaces are being designed.

A-    Smoke Alarm Installation. The BC Electrical Safety Regulation permits a smoke alarm to be installed on most residential circuits that carry lighting outlets and receptacles. It is the intent of the Vancouver Building By-law that any other item on a circuit with a smoke alarm should be unlikely to be overloaded and trip the breaker with a resultant loss of power that is not sufficiently annoying for the breaker to be restored to the on position. It is considered that an interior bathroom light or a kitchen light fulfills this intent, but that circuits restricted to receptacles do not fulfill this intent.

A-    Voice Messages. The concept of intelligibility expressed in Clause is intended to mean that a person with average hearing and cognitive abilities is able to understand the messages that are transmitted into the space occupied by the person. There is no absolute measure to predetermine the effect of loudspeakers and it may be necessary, once the building has been furnished and occupied, to increase the number of loudspeakers to improve the quality of the messages.

The intelligibility of the message depends on the speech level, the background level, and the reverberation time of the space. ISO 7731, “Ergonomics – Danger signals for public and work areas – Auditory danger signals,” addresses audibility. The standard suggests that an A-weighted sound level at least 15 dBA above the ambient is required for audibility, but allows for more precise calculations using octave or 1/3 octave band frequencies to tailor the alarm signal for particular ambient noise conditions. Design of the alarm system is limited to ensuring that all areas receive an adequately loud alarm signal.

If a public address system is to be used to convey instructions during an emergency, then the requirements of the system are less straightforward. In general, however, a larger number of speakers operating at lower sound levels would be required.

A-   Access Through Locked Doors. There are no restrictions on locking devices to prevent access to (as distinct from egress from) floor areas except in buildings regulated by Sentence

A-    Fire Department Access for Detention Buildings. Buildings of Group B, Division 1 used for housing persons who are under restraint include security measures that would prevent normal access by local fire departments. These security measures include fencing around the building site, exterior walls without openings or openings which are either very small or fitted with bars, and doors that are equipped with security hardware that would prevent easy entry. These buildings would have firefighting equipment installed and the staff would be trained to handle any small incipient fires. It is expected that appropriate fire safety planning would be undertaken in conjunction with local fire departments in order that special emergencies could be handled in a cooperative manner.

A-   Location of Access Routes and Paths of Travel. The national building code and the provincial building code prescriptive requirements for access routes, paths of travel and hydrant locations, currently, do not reflect the operational requirements of the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services nor the existing City of Vancouver fire hydrant locations. Therefore, the VBBL has been modified from the national and provincial building codes to reflect the unique to Vancouver requirements.

A-, (2) and (3)   Access Route and Path of Travel. Except as indicated below, no building face or portion thereof should be located less than 3m from an access route nor should the principal entrance of each building be located more than 15m from an access route. These provisions are provided to facilitate Fire Department vehicle staging to the building and to provide direct access for firefighters from the access route to the principal entrance of each building. For sprinklered single family dwellings or sprinklered residential row houses, the path of travel from the access route to the entrance door of each residential suite may not be more than 45 m. See Figure A-, Figure A- and Figure A-

Figure -A

Figure -B

Figure -C

A-, (5) and (6)   Location of Hydrant and Principal Entrance. In the City of Vancouver, hydrants are normally located at street intersections with typical City block lengths of approximately 200 m. If the principal entrance of a building is located mid-block, then the operational procedures and equipment used by the Fire Department will facilitate the 90m distance between the hydrant location and the principal entrance location as measured in Figure A., Figure A. and Figure A.

Figure A-, (5) and (6)-A

Figure A-, (5) and (6)-B

Figure A-, (5) and (6)-C

A-   Fire Department Access Route. The design and construction of fire department access routes involves the consideration of many variables, some of which are specified in the requirements of this By-law. All these variables should be considered in relation to the type and size of the fire department vehicles available for response to the building under review. The general concept is that where a fire department access route is required, access should be accessible for fire department vehicles at all times. This consideration should take into account the possibility of other vehicle parking along the access route. A city lane is not considered as an acceptable access route, due to legal parking and overhead utility concerns.

A-    Water Supply. The intent of Sentence is that an adequate water supply for firefighting be readily available and of sufficient volume and pressure to enable emergency response personnel to control fire growth so as to enable the safe evacuation of occupants and the conduct of search and rescue operations, prevent the fire from spreading to adjacent buildings, and provide a limited measure of property protection.

The water supply requirements for buildings containing internal fire suppression systems, including sprinkler systems and standpipe systems, are contained in specific standards referenced in the By-law. Compliance with the referenced standard, including variations made by this By-law, provides adequate water for fire fighting purposes. However, it will be necessary to verify that an adequate source of water is available at the building site to meet the required quantities and pressures.

For a building with no internal fire suppression system, the determination of the minimum requirements applicable to the water supply for firefighting is relevant mainly to building sites not serviced by municipal water supply systems. For building sites serviced by municipal water supply systems, where the water supply duration is not a concern, water supply flow rates at minimum pressures is the main focus of this provision. However, where municipal water supply capacities are limited, it may be necessary for buildings to have supplemental water supplies on site or readily available.

The sources of water supply for firefighting purposes may be natural or developed. Natural sources may include ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, bays, creeks, and springs. Developed sources may include aboveground tanks, elevated gravity tanks, cisterns, swimming pools, wells, reservoirs, aqueducts, artesian wells, tankers, hydrants served by a public or private water system, and canals. Consideration should be given to ensuring that water sources will be accessible to fire department equipment under all climatic conditions.

The volume of on-site water supply is dependent on the building size, construction, occupancy, exposure and environmental impact potential, and should be sufficient to allow at least 30 minutes of fire department hose stream use.

For the purposes of calculating adequate water supply requirements for fire fighting the following documents may be useful:

A-    Fire Department Pumping Equipment. Availability of appropriate pumping equipment from the local fire department or, in the case of industrial plants or complexes, from their fire brigade, is considered sufficient to meet the intent of this requirement.

A-    Hose Stations. A building that is partially sprinklered may have some floor areas where local sprinklers are installed that do not cover the entire floor area. It is intended that hose stations be provided in these floor areas to allow emergency responders to fight fires that cannot be controlled by local sprinklers.

A-    Sprinkler System Design. In NFPA 13, “Installation of Sprinkler Systems,” reference is made to other NFPA standards that contain additional sprinkler design criteria. These criteria apply to industrial occupancies with high fire loads, including warehouses with high piled storage, and industrial occupancies intended for the use, manufacture or storage of highly flammable materials. Therefore, while only NFPA 13 is called up directly by Sentence, the additional criteria in the other NFPA standards are included automatically.

In some NFPA standards, certain aspects of sprinkler protection are dependent on the fire-resistance rating of the vertical structural members. In these cases, the sprinkler system design options can be affected by the fire-resistance rating of these elements. For example, in buildings used for the storage of rubber tires, sprinklers directed at the sides of a column are required if the column does not have the required fire-resistance rating.

Other NFPA standards may require that certain occupancies be sprinklered in conformance with NFPA 13, as in the case of some garages. These requirements do not supersede the requirements in the By-law. An occupancy is required to be sprinklered only when this is specified in the By-law, but when it is so required, it must be sprinklered in conformance with NFPA 13 and its referenced standards.

A-   Suite Separations. Suite and corridor fire separations and their corresponding fire resistance ratings are required at the suite attic and corridor attic interface. Although the building is sprinklered, suite to suite and corridor to suite fire separation requirements need to be retained. Articles and illustrate the requirements in these areas.

A-    Sprinklering of Roof Assemblies. Sprinkler protection for roof assemblies in lieu of fire resistance is based on the assumption that the sprinklers will protect the roof assembly from the effects of fire in spaces below the roof. If a ceiling membrane is installed, the sprinklers would have to be located below the membrane in order to react quickly to the fire. In certain instances, however, sprinklers may be required within the concealed spaces as well as below the membrane. NFPA 13, “Installation of Sprinkler Systems,” requires sprinklers in certain concealed spaces.

According to NFPA 13 and 13R, rooms and closets in the storey immediately below the roof assembly do not require sprinklers.However, the NBC requires sprinkler protection within all rooms and closets immediately below the roof so as to control any fire that might start in that space and thereby limit the probability of the fire spreading into the roof assembly.

Moreover, NFPA 13D, “Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes,” also allows the omission of sprinklers in such rooms and closets under certain circumstances, provided the building is sprinklered in conformance with this standard. In this case, the NBC concurs with the provisions of the NFPA 13D standard.

A-    Fast Response Sprinklers. Several types of sprinkler will respond to a fire faster than a conventional standard response sprinkler. The Response Time Index (RTI) is used to quantify the sensitivity of the sprinkler link for any given sprinkler. The RTI for the group of fast response sprinklers described below will on average range from 22 s0.5•m0.5 to 33 s0.5•m0.5. RTI values for standard response sprinklers will typically be in the range of 83 s0.5•m0.5 to 110 s 0.5•m0.5.

Any confusion as to the appropriate type of fast response sprinkler for different types of building should be alleviated by considering the testing criteria described below and the reference to the appropriate NFPA installation standards.

Although the By-law specifies where fast response sprinklers are required it does not prevent the appropriate use of fast response sprinklers in other occupancies.

Residential sprinklers are tested in accordance with ANSI/UL-1626, “Residential Sprinklers for Fire-Protection Service.” They are installed in accordance with NFPA 13R, “Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Residential Occupancies up to and Including Four Stories in Height,” with NFPA 13D, “Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes,” and with Section 5-4.5 of NFPA 13, “Installation of Sprinkler Systems,” for residential occupancies and for dwelling units.

Quick-response sprinklers are tested in accordance with ANSI/UL-199, “Automatic Sprinklers for Fire-Protection Service.” They are installed in accordance with NFPA 13, “Installation of Sprinkler Systems,” for spacing, density and location. They are acceptable for limited use as described in NFPA 13R, “Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Residential Occupancies up to and Including Four Stories in Height,” but are not permitted for use under NFPA 13D, “Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes.”

Early suppression fast response sprinklers are tested in accordance with FM 2008, “Early Suppression - Fast Response Sprinklers.” They are installed in accordance with NFPA 13, “Installation of Sprinkler Systems,” but are not accepted for use under either NFPA 13R, “Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Residential Occupancies up to and Including Four Stories in Height,” or NFPA 13D, “Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes.”

Quick response extended coverage sprinklers are tested in accordance with ANSI/UL 199, “Automatic Sprinklers for Fire-Protection Service.” They are installed in accordance with NFPA 13, “Installation of Sprinkler Systems,” for spacing, density and location. They are acceptable for limited use as permitted by NFPA 13R, “Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Residential Occupancies up to and Including Four Stories in Height,” but are not permitted for use under NFPA 13D, “Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes.”

A-    Sprinkler Rating. The requirements of this Sentence can be met by using sprinklers with a rating of 79°C to 107°C.

A-    Hazard Classification for Sprinkler Selection. The reference to light hazard occupancies is based on the descriptions of these occupancies given in NFPA 13, “Installation of Sprinkler Systems,” and is intended only for use in the design of sprinkler systems. These descriptions should not be confused with the occupancy classifications in the By-law.

A-    Hazard Classification for Sprinkler Selection. In NFPA 13 a light hazard occupancy is one in which the quantity or combustibility of contents is low and fires with relatively low rates of heat release are expected. Typical buildings or parts of buildings include: churches; clubs; eaves and overhangs, if of combustible construction with no combustibles beneath; educational buildings; hospitals; institutional buildings; libraries, except very large stack rooms; museums; nursing or convalescent homes; offices, including data processing rooms; residential buildings; restaurant seating areas; theatres and auditoria, excluding stages and proscenia; and unused attics.

Although NFPA 13R, “Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Residential Occupancies up to and Including Four Stories in Height,” and NFPA 13D, “Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes,” as referenced by NFPA 13, are concerned with specific types of residential occupancy, namely apartment buildings up to four storeys, one and two family dwellings, and mobile homes, for the purpose of acceptance of combustible sprinkler piping these occupancies are considered to be included in the category of residential buildings under light hazard occupancies.

A-    Fire Pumps. In order to ensure an adequate water supply, it may be necessary to install a fire pump for a building that has either a standpipe system or an automatic sprinkler system installed. Reference to NFPA 20, “Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection,” provides the necessary guidance to designers.

A-   Coordination of Fire Fighting Facilities. In most cases, the principal entrance for fire fighting is the street address entrance. Some designs locate the fire fighters' elevator and stairwells equipped with standpipes in remote locations which often make it difficult for fire fighters to find these facilities quickly. Access for fire fighters should be directly available from the principal entrance to above and below grade stairs that serve all floor areas of the building. The location of utility shutoffs should be known and directions available at the principal entrance.

A-   Electrical Conductors. The intent of this Sentence is to provide protection of riser conductors serving components of a building fire alarm and voice communication system and equipment required for smoke control and smoke venting such as fans and dampers. Conductors supplying fire alarm and voice communication system devices, smoke control and smoke venting equipment on individual floors are not intended to be protected in conformance with this requirement.

Conductors supplying fire fighters' elevators and fire pumps are intended to be protected in accordance with this requirement from the source of the emergency power supply (emergency generator) to the terminals of the equipment (fire pump or elevator motors).

The following issues for conductor protection are required to be considered:

  1. A list of emergency equipment served by the protected conductors,
  2. Specific methods of the conductor protection utilized for the project. (See note a.)
  3. Electrical plans indicating the routes for protected conductors from the emergency power supply to the equipment served.
  4. The satisfactory operation of electrical equipment supplied by the protected conductors while operating at elevated temperatures (more than 30° C).
  5. The protection of riser conductors from potential pressurized hot gases which could travel inside the electrical conduits originating from the fire floor. (See note b.)
  6. Access to electrical riser conductor junctions for maintenance or testing. (See notes a. & c.)


  1. Acceptable protection methods for electrical conductors to ensure the operation of equipment for a period of at least one (1) hour are illustrated in the table below.
  2. Derating of a conductors' ampacity may be required. Where conductors are protected in accordance with methods B to F, as illustrated in the table below and where the conductors are sized to accommodate 110% of the rated load current, then no additional derating of conductors is required. Where conductors are protected in accordance with method A, an assessment of the conductors performance (MI cables) under exposure to fire, would need to be provided by an electrical engineer.
  3. Location of riser conductor junctions in exit stairwells is not acceptable.

Submission of the chosen methods of compliance and the submission of Schedule B-1 and B-2 Letters of Assurance need to be provided by the professional electrical engineer responsible for the project at the design stage. Upon completion of the installation, a Schedule C-B Letter of Assurance would be required.

Acceptable methods for the protection of electrical conductors from fire exposure to ensure operation of the emergency equipment for a period of at least one (1) hour (based on a sprinklered building) are illustrated in the table below.

A Provide mineral insulated cables or other cables that conform with the ULC S139 circuit integrity test and are marked “ULC S139 2hr fire rated” cables.
B Provide a minimum cover over the conduit of at least 100 mm in concrete. floor slabs or walls that form part of fire separations. Cover from the ends of slabs or walls that form part of the fire separations shall be at least 125 mm.
C Provide a minimum cover over the conduit of at least 125 mm in concrete columns, beams or walls that are not forming part of a fire separation.
D Enclose conductors in a shaft enclosure of at least two hour fire resistance construction. These shaft enclosure walls can be of concrete or any ULC, cUL or WH listed wall or shaft wall assembly.
E Any junction boxes or access points required for the protected conductors shall be protected with listed access panels which have been tested to limit the temperature rise on unexposed side to less than 90 C for one (1) hour. An air space shall be provided between the access panel and the conductors, to ensure that there will be no contact.
F Conduits leading from protected enclosures to branch circuits must be protected at junction boxes at both ends of the connecting conduit. This protection will consist of plugging the conduits to a depth of at least 12 mm with an approved firestop caulking. An acceptable alternative to the above is to use an EYS fitting at the protected enclosure end.

The above provides options for the protection of electrical conductors. Other solutions may be proposed by a Fire Protection Engineer retained to analyze the arrangement and develop a solution on an equivalency basis for acceptance by the Chief Building Official.

A-    Emergency Power Reliability. In some areas power outages are frequent and may be of long duration. These local conditions should be taken into account in determining the type of system for supplying emergency power for lighting. This should be studied at the planning stage of a building project in conjunction with the local fire safety and building officials.

A-    Emergency Power for Hospitals. CAN/CSA-Z32, “Electrical Safety and Essential Electrical Systems in Health Care Facilities,” contains requirements other than those that relate specifically to the installation of emergency equipment. Compliance with these other requirements is not intended by the reference in Article The standard refers to three classes of health care facilities — Class A, Class B and Class C — and states that the standard applies to Class A and Class C health care facilities but not to Class B health care facilities. Since the standard CAN/CSA-Z32 does not apply to facilities in which residents, as a result of physical or mental disabilities, are unable to function independently and require daily care by health care professionals, the standard applicable to these facilities is CAN/CSA-C282, “Emergency Electrical Power Supply for Buildings.”

A-    Emergency Power Duration. The times indicated in this Sentence are the durations for which emergency power must be available for a building under fire emergency conditions. Additional fuel for generators or additional battery capacity is required to handle normal testing of the equipment, as indicated in the Vancouver Fire By-law. If the operation of emergency generators or batteries is intended for other than fire emergency conditions, such as power failures, fuel supplies or battery capacity must be increased to compensate for that use.

A-    Emergency Power Reliability. In some areas power outages are frequent and may be of long duration. These local conditions should be taken into account in determining the type of system for supplying emergency power for building services. This should be studied at the planning stage of a building project in conjunction with the local fire safety and building officials.

A-    Special Protection of Opening. In manufacturing operations involving the use of conveyor systems to transport material through fire separations, it may not be possible to use standard closure devices. NFPA 80, “Fire Doors and Fire Windows,” includes appendix information concerning protection of openings through vertical fire separations. NFPA 13, “Installation of Sprinkler Systems,” includes methods of protecting openings through floor assemblies, however, it is assumed by that standard that the remainder of the building would be sprinklered. Combinations of methods may be required to ensure that the level of safety inherent in the requirements of the By-law is maintained.

A-    Stairway Opening. The phrase “used only for stairways, escalators or moving walks” is intended to restrict a floor opening to the size that is necessary to accommodate the stairway, escalator or moving walk.

A-    Waiver of Occupancy Separation Continuity. The typical application of this Sentence is to buildings with a mixture of occupancies that are randomly located throughout the building. Examples include shopping centres, podia of large commercial and business complexes, and recreational buildings that are combined with mercantile and business operations. A shopping mall with two interconnected storeys is an example that is frequently encountered in many jurisdictions. The permission to breach the floor assembly between the storeys does not override requirements for separation of specific suites or occupancies. For instance, although storage garages are Group F, Division 3 occupancies, the requirement in Article for the storage garage to be separated from other occupancies by a fire separation with at least a 1.5 h fire-resistance rating must be observed. In a similar manner, a theatre or cinema (Group A, Division 1 occupancy) must be separated from other occupancies in accordance with Sentence and seats in an arena-type building (Group A, Division 3) must be separated from space below in accordance with Sentence

A-    Smoke Exhaust System. The mechanical exhaust system is intended as an aid to firefighters in removing smoke and is to be designed to be actuated manually by the responding fire department. Although smoke is normally removed from the top of the interconnected floor space, exhaust outlets at other locations may be satisfactory.

A-3.3.    Safety Within Floor Areas. Section 3.3. regulates safety within floor areas including rooms and other spaces within a building, with the exception of service rooms and service spaces, which are regulated by Section 3.6. The requirements are grouped according to the occupancy of the floor area, room or space, which is not necessarily the same as the major occupancy for which the building is classified. For example, a building may be classified by major occupancy as an office building: therefore, the provisions for structural fire protection and fire protection equipment for office buildings prescribed in Section 3.2. apply. However, within that building, a room or floor area may be used for mercantile, care or detention, business, residential, industrial or other occupancy.

Life safety for the occupants of any floor area depends in the first instance on the use or occupancy of that floor area. The risks to the occupants occur in the early stages of a fire. These special life risks differ from one occupancy to another and, consequently, must be regulated differently. Section 3.3. regulates risks within floor areas: these requirements apply regardless of the major occupancy of the building that contains the floor areas. For example, an assembly room must comply with the requirements for assembly occupancy whether it is contained in an office building, hospital, hotel, theatre, industrial building or other major occupancy.

Since this By-law regulates new construction, alterations and changes of occupancy, the construction of kiosks and similar structures in public corridors must take into consideration all the requirements that apply to the remainder of the building, including structural fire protection, construction type, finish materials, egress widths and sprinkler installations. Special activities of an occasional nature that were not contemplated in the original design of a public corridor and that represent only a temporary change in occupancy are regulated by the Vancouver Fire By-law. These regulations include maintaining egress paths clear of obstructions, controlling combustible contents and providing measures to ensure quick response for firefighting.

A-    Hazardous Substances. Dangerous goods, as defined in the Vancouver Fire By-law and regulated by the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and its Regulations, constitute one type of hazardous substance in the sense of the Vancouver Building By-law. They include gases and radioactive, corrosive, poisonous, oxidizing, reactive, explosive and flammable substances. The term “hazardous substance” in the Vancouver Building By-law also means materials and products that are not regulated by the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations but that pose a fire or explosion hazard due to their own properties or because of the manner in which they are stored, handled or used. These include combustible products, rubber tires, combustible fibres, combustible dusts, products producing flammable vapours or gases, etc.

A-    Cooking Equipment Ventilation. Cooking equipment manufactured for use in dwelling units and other residential suites is often installed in buildings used for assembly and care or detention purposes. It is not obvious from the By-law requirements or those of NFPA 96, "Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations," whether a ventilation and grease removal system is required in all assembly and care or detention uses. If the equipment is to be used in a manner that will produce grease-laden vapours that are substantially more than would be produced in a normal household environment, then it would be appropriate to apply the requirements of NFPA 96. If the equipment is used primarily for reheating food prepared elsewhere or is used occasionally for demonstration or educational purposes, there would be no expectation of applying the requirements of NFPA 96. In all cases the circumstances should be reviewed with the Chief Building Official.

A-    Obstruction in Corridor. The sweep of a cane used by blind or visually impaired persons normally detects obstructions that are within 680 mm of the floor. Any obstruction above this height would not normally be detected and can, therefore, create a hazard if it projects more than 100 mm into the path of travel.

A-    Movable Partitions. Should an emergency situation arise outside of normal working hours but when occupants are still in the space, they could be left without a clear way out. This could occur during inventory or after closing time when all occupants have not yet left, but staff close the door to prevent other persons from entering. In many small tenant areas, the movable partitions (store fronts) provide the only way out. There should always be a second way out or a swinging door within or adjacent to the sliding partitions.

A-    Door Hardware. The permission to have additional door releasing devices is intended to allow the use of a security chain, night latch or dead bolt to supplement the normal door latching device. These are permitted for dwelling units and locations where guests in a hotel or motel require additional security. The height of these items is also governed by the maximum height stipulated in Sentence to ensure that they can be operated by persons with physical disabilities. This additional hardware should not require appreciable dexterity by the user and the general requirements on the ability to operate the device without the use of keys, special tools or specialized knowledge still apply.

A-    Controlled Egress Doors. It is intended that Sentence apply to doors used at the perimeter of a contained use area or an impeded egress zone. If the contained use area consists of a single room, the requirements would apply to that room. In the case of individual cells within a contained use area, exterior keyed locks could be used on the cell doors consistent with the fire safety plan and continuous supervision by staff who can release the doors in an emergency.

A-    Doorway Width. Standard wheelchair width specifications indicate a range of sizes from 584 mm overall to 685 mm overall. Every doorway that is located in an accessible path of travel must have a clear width of not less than 800 mm when the door is in the open position and therefore it is important that this dimension be measured correctly. Figure A- shows a door opened to 90°. It is clear that the door, and to a lesser extent the stop, impinges on the space within the door frame. The clear width of not less than 800 mm is measured from the face of the door to the outside edge of the stop on the door frame. It is not sufficient just to measure the inside width of the door frame. Other factors, including location of door stops other than on the door frame, and the installation of door closers and exit devices, should be taken into account. The intrusion of a door handle into the space is of lesser importance. It is recognized that there are many types of door frame and door mounts but the overall objective is to maintain a clear width of not less than 800 mm. The diagram depicts a somewhat restrictive scenario, as many doors can open wider than 90°, however, a door smaller than 864 mm would not be wide enough to ensure the minimum clear width of 800 mm that is required.

Figure A-

Clear doorway width

A-    Lever Handles. Lever handles are usable by most persons with limited hand mobility and will meet the intent of this requirement. Lever handles with an end return towards the door are less prone to catch the clothing of someone passing through the doorway.

A-    Air Pressure Differences. Differences in air pressure on opposite sides of a door may be due to the operation of mechanical systems such as those associated with smoke control. So-called "stack action" in buildings in winter can also cause differential pressures due to the buoyancy of warm air. Stack action is usually most noticeable between stairwells and the remainder of the building, and at the entrances to buildings; the taller the building, the greater the effect. Doors with automatic closers have to operate with sufficient opening force to allow the return action to overcome the differential pressure.

A-    Delayed Action on Door Closers. In some circumstances, closers with a delay feature which keeps the door open for several seconds before it begins to close might be desirable. However, closers with this feature have limited back-check, a feature of a normal door closer where resistance to opening increases as the door reaches the full arc of swing. Doors equipped with a delayed action closer are therefore more susceptible to damage should the door be opened with too much force or should someone try to force it closed, thinking the closer has failed to operate. Delayed action closers are not recommended for such occupancies as schools.

A-    Obstructions in Means of Egress. Obstructions including posts, counters or turnstiles should not be located in a manner that would restrict the width of a normal means of egress from a floor area or part of a floor area unless an alternative means of egress is provided adjacent to and plainly visible from the restricted means of egress.

A-    Tablet Arms. Although it is intended that the motion to raise the tablet arm be essentially a single fluid motion, it is acceptable that the motion be a compound motion of raising the tablet arm and including an articulation to allow the tablet to fall back alongside the arm rest.

A-    Safety in a Care or Detention Occupancy. Fire safety for patients in bedroom areas in hospitals and nursing homes is predicated on the ability of staff to carry out at all times essential life safety functions in accordance with the fire safety plan. Details for a plan are contained in the Vancouver Fire By-law.

A-    Safety in a Care or Detention Occupancy. Many factors may affect the ability of staff to carry out life safety functions, including the mobility of patients who cannot fend for themselves and the built-in protection for patients who cannot be moved except under exceptional circumstances.

Should a patient area in a hospital or nursing home contain factors which would increase the time normally required for staff to evacuate patients or to undertake other life safety measures, consideration should be given to providing additional fire protection measures to ensure that equivalent safety is available.

A-    Doorway Width. The 1 050 mm minimum clear width of doorways accounts for door stops and, thus, is intended to allow for the use of 1 100 mm doors.

A-    Hospitals and Nursing Homes. The basis for the requirements in this Article is that staff will be in attendance at all times on the same storey, either in each fire compartment or in a fire compartment immediately adjacent.

A nursing home occupancy is intended to include nursing and convalescent homes, skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities and some homes for the aged. Occupants of nursing homes are assumed to be, for the most part, non-ambulatory. The use of physical restraints and tranquilizing drugs which may render occupants immobile are also factors which should be considered.

Although the age of patients by itself is not sufficient justification for a floor area to be included in a nursing home occupancy, it should be recognized that many homes for the aged are in fact nursing homes. The factor that determines whether or not a home for the aged is a nursing home and, therefore, a care or detention occupancy as opposed to a residential occupancy, is whether or not continuous nursing care is required for the occupants. If it is not required, then the occupancy would normally be classified as residential rather than care or detention.

A-    Weatherstripping. “Weatherstripped or otherwise” is intended to provide for adequate draft resistant sealing material to retard the passage of smoke through closure assemblies used in fire separations.

A-    Intercommunicating Rooms. Rooms that are interconnected can include more than one sleeping room, together with ensuite toilet rooms, shower rooms, and storage closets used for the storage of personal items of the persons occupying the sleeping rooms. It is not intended that storage rooms for other purposes be included within the group of interconnected rooms.

A-    Grilles and Louvres. In order to permit the supply of make-up air to compensate for the removal of exhaust air from these toilet rooms, shower rooms and similar spaces, it is permitted to incorporate grilles and louvres for the transfer of air provided the air movement cannot allow smoke to pass through these spaces to other parts of the building. It is considered that in normal designs the air is exhausted directly to the exterior and is not circulated. If air is to be circulated back to other parts of the building, smoke operated dampers should be included in the air circulating system.

A-   Fire Damper Activation. This requirement is to ensure that fire dampers are activated by any smoke detector in either zone or fire compartment.

A-    Landing in Egress Stairway. A landing level used in an egress stairway from a dwelling unit is not considered to be a storey of that dwelling unit if the landing is used only for pedestrian travel purposes.

A-    Automatic Locking Prohibited. Doors that must be manually reset to lock them when they are opened from the inside meet the intent of this requirement.

A-    Type of Exit Facility. The requirements for exits in Section 3.4. were developed for new construction. If alterations are made to an existing building or changes of occupancy occur, other design solutions than those in Section 3.4. may have to be developed to maintain an acceptable level of safety if it is not practicable to fully conform to the requirements of this Section. In some cases the use of fire escapes to supplement the existing exit facilities may be the only practicable solution. Because of the variety of conditions that may be encountered in existing buildings, it is difficult to standardize or codify such requirements. Alternative means of providing acceptable levels of safety may have to be tailored to the particular building design. In all cases, however, the requirements described in Section 3.4. are intended to provide the level of safety to be achieved. If alternative measures are used, they should develop the level of safety implied in these requirements.

A-    Sleeping Area. Areas serving patients' sleeping rooms include sleeping areas and areas where patients are taken for treatment.

A-    Least Distance Between Exits. The least distance measurement does not apply to each combination of exits on a multi-exit storey. It only applies to at least 2 of the required exits from that storey.

A-    Evacuation of Interconnected Floor Space. This Sentence ensures that egress facilities allow for the simultaneous evacuation of all portions of an interconnected floor space. It does not contemplate the phased evacuation of occupants; thus in buildings where that type of evacuation is intended, fire protection requirements in addition to those prescribed in the By-law may be necessary.

In the first instance, this Sentence provides for cumulative exiting that can accommodate the efficient movement of all occupants in the exit stairs. Clause permits an alternative approach that will accommodate all the occupants in the stairs but will restrict the egress flow rate. Clause provides a second alternative that assumes the occupants must queue before entering the stair. A “protected floor space” conforming to Article is intended to provide an intermediate area of safety that is protected from the hazards of the interconnected floor space. It does not provide a holding or refuge area for all occupants of a floor area for an extended period of time.

To ensure that evacuation is not unduly delayed and that queuing of the occupants in the protected floor space can be accommodated, requires careful consideration in the design of the interface between the interconnected floor space/protected floor space/exit.

It is not appropriate, for example, to share a common vestibule in complying with Sentences and Under evacuation conditions, occupants entering the vestibule would flow towards the exit, as opposed to the protected floor space, thus resulting in queuing outside the vestibule and potential exposure to fire. To comply with the intent, it is necessary to design the egress path such that the occupants enter the protected floor space through a vestibule, then in turn enter the exit stair from the protected floor space. In addition, sufficient space should be provided between the vestibule and the exit to allow for the queuing of occupants in the protected floor space.

A-    Temporary Safety Area. The objective of Clause is to provide an area of temporary safety in the exit stair shafts for the occupants of the interconnected floor space. This requirement is considered to be met if 0.3 m2 per person is provided in the stair shaft between the floor level served and the floor level immediately beneath it.

A-    Requirements for Lobby. If an exit is permitted to lead through a lobby, the lobby must provide a level of protection approaching that of the exit. As well as meeting the width and height requirements for exits, the lobby must be separated from the remainder of the building by a fire separation having a fire-resistance rating at least equal to that required for the exit, unless one of the exceptions in this Clause is applied.

A-3.4.6.    Application to Means of Egress. The requirements in Subsection 3.4.6. apply to interior and exterior exits, as well as to ramps, stairways and passageways used by the public as access to exit. The treads, risers, landings, handrails and guards for the latter access to exit facilities must thus be provided in conformance with the appropriate requirements for exit facilities.

A-    Continuity of Handrail. Blind or visually-impaired persons rely on handrails to guide them on stairways. A continuous handrail will assist them in negotiating stairs at changes in direction. The extended handrail is useful to persons with physical disabilities to steady themselves before using the stairs. Handrails should, however, return to the wall, floor or post, so as not to constitute a hazard to blind or visually-impaired persons.

A-   Guards. Guards shall not be designed to facilitate climbing. It is also important to consider the implications of architectural components built or installed adjacent to guards which may facilitate climbing. The following figures show some configurations which may facilitate climbing and provide solutions to prevent these potential problems.

Other design alternatives may also meet the intent of the by-law such as installation of tempered glass or acrylic glass on the inside face of guards which may minimize climbing.

Figure A-

Where a balcony door is installed above the finished elevation of the balcony floor, the upstand supporting the balcony door may facilitate climbing. In order to meet the intent of the By-law, the end of the upstand should be at least 600 mm away from the nearest portion of the guard.

Figure A-

Where a balcony door is installed above the finished elevation of the balcony floor and the upstand supporting the balcony door is less than 600 mm away from the nearest portion of the guard, then the adjacent guard should be reconfigured with a minimum 200 mm height extension and a minimum 600mm length extension.

Figure A-

Architectural components should be installed away from guards so that they do not facilitate climbing. These architectural components should be anchored to a floor or deck so that they are not easily removed and placed adjacent to the guard. It is suggested that the architectural components not be placed within a 1070 mm radius from the top of a guard.

Figure A-

Where a guard is installed in front of a curb, it may facilitate climbing if the openings in the guard are wide enough to allow the foot of a child to pass through the opening and use the curb as a step. It is recommended that the guard be installed at least 300 mm away from the curb in order to minimize climbing.

Figure A-

Where a guard is installed in front of a curb and the curb is less that 300mm from the guard, it is recommended that the maximum openings of the guard be reduced to not more than 50mm in order to minimize climbing.

A-    Stair Tolerances. The term “uniform run and rise” assumes normal construction tolerances.

A-   Tread Angle. This requirement is intended to prevent the front edge of treads from varying in the direction of travel and creating a hazardous condition. At the same time, it does not prevent the curving or splaying of bottom treads, sometimes a feature of stairs.

A-    Door Swing. Although it is required that the door on the right hand side of a pair of doors shall swing in the direction of travel through the exit, the direction of swing of the door on the left side will depend on the function of the horizontal exit. If the horizontal exit provides for movement from one building to the adjacent building but does not require movement in the reverse direction, both doors must swing in the direction of travel to the adjacent building. If the design is based upon both buildings providing complementary movement in either direction, then the doors must swing in opposite directions. Location of a required exit sign directly above a door that swings in the direction of travel is deemed to meet the intent of Clause

A-    Exit Concealment. Hangings or draperies placed over exit doors may conceal or obscure them.

A-    Fastening Device. Turnpieces of a type which must be rotated through an angle of more than 90° before releasing a locking bolt are not considered to be readily openable. The release of a locking bolt should allow the door to open without having to operate other devices on the door.

A-    Electromagnetic Lock. Electromagnetic locks are intended for use where there is a need for security additional to that provided by traditional exit hardware. They are not intended for indiscriminate use as alternative locking devices. The design of these devices requires evaluation to ensure that their operation will be fail-safe in allowing exiting in the event of foreseeable emergencies. If more than one locking device is used in a building, it is expected that one switch will release and reset all devices simultaneously.

A-    Special Security for Doors. The need for security in banks and in mercantile occupancies requires the ability to use positive locking devices on doors that may not readily be opened from inside the building. In a fully sprinklered building, the risk to persons inside the building is substantially reduced. The provisions of Sentences to (9) assume that the area is illuminated and that a means of communication is available to any occupant during times that the doors are locked.

A-    Colour Contrast. The identification of floor and other signs intended to facilitate orientation for visually-impaired persons should offer maximum colour contrast to be effective. For this reason, it is recommended that white on black or black on white be used, as this combination produces the best legibility. It is also recommended that the sign surfaces be processed to prevent glare.

A-    Elevator Design. The reference to “Elevating Devices Safety Regulation” in this Sentence implies conformance with all requirements of that standard for elevator cars, hoistways, pits and machine rooms, including restrictions on other services in these areas and detailed design criteria.

A-    Elevator Car Dimensions. In some circumstances it is necessary to maintain a patient on a stretcher in the prone position during transit to a hospital or to treatment facilities. Inclining the stretcher to load it into an elevator could be fatal or at the very least detrimental to the patient's health. Many ambulance services use a mobile patient stretcher whose size is 2 010 mm long and 610 mm wide. As well as space for the stretcher in the elevator, there should be sufficient additional space for at least two attendants who may also be providing treatment during transit. Common elevator units that can satisfy this requirement include:

A-    Combustible Refuse Storage. Storage of refuse consisting of combustible materials including waste paper, cardboard and plastic, and noncombustible materials such as glass and metallic containers can be accumulated in these rooms for the purpose of recycling. This storage is allowed in consideration of a less stringent collection schedule when compared to that of garbage or refuse, which is collected regularly.

A-   Sprinklering of Electrical Equipment Rooms. Refer to NFPA 13 for exclusion of sprinklering of electrical equipment rooms.

A-    Explosion Relief. Examples of good engineering practice for this application can be found in NFPA 68, “Venting of Deflagrations,” NFPA 69, “Explosion Prevention Systems,” and the NFPA Fire Protection Handbook.

A-    Vertical Service Spaces. Sentence does not prohibit the internal subdivision of a vertical service space to allow different building services to be installed in physically separated spaces unless other requirements apply (see, for example, Article Fire separation requirements apply to the perimeter of the group of service spaces. Article has special requirements for linen chutes and refuse chutes.

A-    Ceiling Membrane Rating. In construction assemblies that utilize membrane ceiling protection and have been assigned a fire-resistance rating on the basis of a fire test, the membrane is only one of the elements that contribute to the performance of the assembly and does not in itself provide the protection implied by the rating. For the fire-resistance rating of membrane materials used in this form of construction, reference should be made to the results of fire tests which have been conducted to specifically evaluate the performance of this element.

A-    Clearance for Warm-Air Supply Ducts. Applicable to forced-air furnaces where permissible clearance C above plenum is 75 mm or less.

Figure A-

Clearance for warm-air supply ducts

A-    Clearance for Warm-Air Supply Ducts. Applicable to forced-air furnaces where permissible clearance C above plenum is more than 75 mm but not more than 150 mm.

Figure A-

Clearance for warm-air supply ducts

A-    Clearance for Warm-Air Supply Ducts. Applicable to forced-air furnaces where permissible clearance C above plenum is more than 150 mm.

Figure A-

Clearance for warm-air supply ducts

A-    Water Closets. Sentence assumes that there will be a sufficient number of persons in the building to justify the provision of separate water closet facilities for both males and females. In some circumstances overall low occupant loads would not require more than one water closet for males and one water closet for females and yet the building has more than one storey. It is deemed that rooms each containing a single water closet available for both males and females would satisfy the intent of the By-law. The total number of water closets must be adequate for the total number of occupants. Requirements for barrier free accessibility also need to be considered. If the entrance storey is accessible and the upper storeys are not required to be accessible, a room in the accessible storey must meet the requirements of Section 3.8. and can serve both males and females. If provided, a nonaccessible room, designed to serve both males and females, in each nonaccessible upper storey would be acceptable. Sentence permits a single water closet to serve both males and females if the total occupant load is low.

A-    Accessible Water Closets. Wheelchair users generally require a higher toilet seat to facilitate transfer from their chair to the toilet. Removable high-lift seats are not acceptable in public washrooms as they will most likely disappear or be damaged. Permanently installed vandal resistant high-lift seats are available for installation on standard height toilet bowls and these could be considered in place of the high bowl required by this Clause.

A-    Shower Doors. Shower doors are not permitted because those generally available impede access for disabled persons to the tub or shower or are difficult for disabled persons to operate. This Clause is not intended to prohibit shower curtains.

A-3.8.    Design Assumption Relating to Accessibility. This Section contains minimum provisions to accommodate a person using a typical manual wheelchair or other manual mobility assistance devices such as walking aids, including canes, crutches, braces and artificial limbs.

   Building Access Handbook. An illustrated guide and commentary has been produced to assist users of Section 3.8 of the Vancouver Building By-law and other access requirements of the Vancouver Building By-law. This handbook contains the entire text of Section 3.8. and other access requirements, and is supplemented by commentary and illustrations on specific requirements where necessary.

A-    Access to Rooms and Facilities. Deleted.

A-    Access to Small Storeys. Elevators and elevating devices for people with disabilities are relatively expensive and in small buildings they may form a significant percentage of a building's cost. This Clause is intended to exempt such small second storeys or basements from access requirements when they are self-contained or contain the same facilities as on the first storey. Examples where access is not required are office tenants on the second storey of a small building and the second storey of a restaurant which contains only additional seating. If, on the other hand, the restaurant's washrooms are in the less than 600 m2 basement there must be access to them as they are an integral part of the principle function on the first storey. Likewise, staff lunchrooms and washrooms are integral with the principle function and when they are on a small second storey or mezzanine they must be accessible when a disabled person could reasonably be expected to be employed there.

This exemption applies to buildings of two storeys in building height containing not more than three storeys. A building of three or more storeys in building height must be fully accessible.

A-    Small Mercantile Occupancies. Any individual Group E shop with a total retail floor space of less than 50 m2 is exempt from the requirements of Section 3.8. A building could contain several such stores and each one would be exempt from the access requirements although other large stores and the building containing them all would be accessible.

A-    Universal Toilet Rooms. Clause (2)(a) requires an accessible universal toilet room in every building required to have water closets. There are a significant number of disabled persons whose daily lives depend heavily on assistance from their spouse or a care giver of the opposite sex. This companion is precluded from assisting in multiple stall public washrooms. The universal toilet room not only solves this problem but also serves the needs of other disabled persons who simply prefer the relative ease of using a toilet room. It can also serve as a washroom for parents with small children and, with the addition of a counter, as a changing room for infants.

A-   Enhanced Accessibility for Residential Buildings. These measures are designed to provide a series of modest accessibility improvements to multi-unit residential buildings at minimal cost, using some of the concepts of universal design. They are designed to enable disabled persons to visit and socialize with people in their homes. They also include simple provisions which will facilitate future adaptation of a dwelling unit so that the unit may be occupied by a person with a range of physical mobility restrictions, and are intended to extend the length of time that elderly persons may remain safely in their own homes.

It should be noted that these improvements apply only to newly constructed multi-unit residential buildings containing three or more suites and served by an elevator and a common corridor. They are NOT intended to provide full accessibility and do not, except where explicitly stated, require conformance to Article and Articles to

A-   The provision for providing reinforcement in wall assemblies adjacent to the toilet and bathtub is intended to assist with future installation of grab bars adjacent to toilets and bathtubs. It is often difficult to add this reinforcement in walls after construction is complete. Therefore solid reinforcement must be installed in the walls adjacent to toilets and bathtubs. (See City of Vancouver Bulletin 2002-006-BU).

A-   The provision for providing a 750 mm by 1 200 mm clear space in the washroom is to allow direct entry into the washroom and reverse exiting without the need for a 1 500 mm turning circle. Washroom fixtures should be located so as to permit side or end-on transfer from a wheelchair without undue difficulty. (See City of Vancouver Bulletin 2002-006-BU).

Figure A-

Signs indicating accessible facilities

Figure A-

Signs indicating accessible facilities

A-    Mercantile Buildings. Where fitting rooms are provided in a store an accessible fitting room is required. An enclosure about 1 500 mm by 1 500 mm is suggested.

A-    Deleted.

A-   The number, size and headroom clearance required for parking stalls for persons with disabilities must comply with the City of Vancouver Parking By-law. It should be noted that under the authority of the Parking By-law, the number of parking stalls for persons with disabilities may be relaxed by the Director of Planning. Unless specifically relaxed by the Director of Planning, the following table outlines the required number of parking stalls for persons with disabilities in accordance with Section 4 of the Parking By-law:

In accordance with Section 4 of the Parking By-law, all parking stalls for persons with disabilities are required to be provided with a minimum width of 4.0 m, a length of 5.5 m and a vertical clearance of 2.3 m. The minimum 2.3 m vertical clearance must be provided above the disability parking stall as well as above the entrance and drive aisle providing access to the required disability parking space in accordance with Section 4 of the Parking By-law. These requirements are intended to apply to existing buildings only where it is reasonable. In cases where no development permit is required, the Chief Building Official, in consultation with the Director of Planning and the City Engineer, may relax the length, width and vertical clearance requirements for existing buildings where the provisions cannot be reasonably accommodated. Relaxations for the size and vertical height clearance of disabled parking stalls may be granted to development permit applications by the Director of Planning in consultation with the Chief Building Official and City Engineer.

Table of Required Disability Parking Spaces
Required Number of Disability Parking Spaces Total Number of Parking Spaces Provided
Column 1 Column 2 Column 3
0 0 – 9 0 0 – 24
1 10 – 39 1 25 – 74
2 40 – 74 2 – 29 75 – 149
3 75 – 124 30 – 44 150 – 249
4 125 - 174 45 - 59 250 - 349
One additional disability parking space for any portion of each additional 50 parking spaces for any portion of each additional 15 parking spaces for any portion of each additional 100 parking spaces

Column 1 - Multiple dwelling units, retail uses, hospitals, health care offices, health enhancement centres, animal clinics, hotels, churches, chapels, funeral homes, places of worship or similar places of assembly.

Column 2 - Special Needs Residential Facilities - Community Care - Class B and Special Needs Residential Facilities - Congregate Housing for Seniors.

Column 3 - Office, theatre uses and all other uses not mentioned for Columns 1 and 2.

A-    Doors with Power Operators. Doors equipped with a power operator actuated by a pressure plate identified with the international symbol for accessibility or, where security is required, by a key, card or radio transmitter, and that can otherwise be opened manually, meet the intent of the requirement. The location of these actuating devices should ensure that a wheelchair will not interfere with the operation of the door once it is actuated. Swinging doors equipped with power operators which are actuated automatically and open into passing pedestrian traffic should be provided with a guard or other device designed to prevent pedestrians from stepping in the swing area of the door. These guards or devices should be detectable by blind persons. For example, inverted U-shaped guards should have an additional rail at a height not more than 680 mm so that it is detectable by the long cane. These doors should also have a device (mat or other sensor) on the swing side to prevent the door from opening if someone is standing in the swing area.

A-    Tactile Warning System. The diagrams below illustrate one acceptable design of tactile warning strip.

Figure A-

Tactile Surfaces

A-    Telephone Shelf. Many hearing impaired persons use a telecommunication device for the deaf (TDD) with a standard telephone to communicate visually. A shelf is needed to hold this device.

A-    Counter work surfaces.. It is not intended that all counters be accessible, but that sufficient accessible counter space be available. Examples of counters that should be accessible include check-in and registration counters and those in financial institutions and reception areas as well as any counter at which processing and signing of documents takes place. It is not intended to apply to work surfaces in industrial occupancies.

A-    Temporary Refuge for Persons with Disabilities. These measures are intended to provide temporary refuge for persons with disabilities. It is acknowledged, however, that the measures cannot provide absolute safety for all occupants in the fire area. It may, therefore, be necessary to develop special arrangements in the fire safety plan to evacuate persons with disabilities from these areas. Details for a suitable plan are contained in the Vancouver Fire By-law.

The protected elevator referred to in Clause is intended to be used by fire fighters as a means for evacuating persons with disabilities. It is not intended that this elevator be used by persons with disabilities as a means of egress without the assistance of fire fighters.

If an estimate is to be made of the number of persons with disabilities in a floor area who can be accommodated in each zone in Clause, this estimate may be based on Table, which is used to determine the minimum number of spaces to be provided for wheelchair occupants in fixed seating areas. If more precise information is available, it should be used for sizing the zones.

A-    Assistive Listening Systems. Wireless sound transmission systems, including FM, infrared or magnetic induction loop systems, improve sound reception for persons with hearing disabilities by providing amplification which can be adjusted by each user while blocking out unwanted background noise. These systems transmit a signal that is picked up by a special receiver available for use by a person with a hearing disability, whether or not a hearing aid is used. Neither system interferes with the listening enjoyment of others.

The transmitter can be jacked into an existing P.A. system amplifier or used independently with microphones. The induction loop system requires users to sit in the area circumscribed by the loop; though installation of the loop is relatively simple, the installer should be knowledgeable about these systems if proper functioning is to be achieved. FM or infrared systems can be designed to broadcast signals which cover the entire room and thus do not restrict seating to any one area. and show the general configuration of FM and infrared systems. Although portable systems (FM in particular) are available, these are best suited to small audiences. Generally, the systems installed in church halls, auditoria, theatres and similar places of assembly are not easily portable, as they are installed in a fixed location by a sound technician and form an integral part of the P.A. system of the room or building.

Hard-wired systems (where a jack is provided at a particular seat) will not meet this requirement unless adequate provisions are made to accommodate persons with hearing aids. In choosing the most appropriate system, a number of factors must be taken into account including cost, installation and maintenance, suitability to the audience, ease of operation and the need for privacy. Information on designers and suppliers of these systems may be obtained from the Canadian Hearing Society.

Figure A- -A

FM sound transmission system

Figure A- -B

Infrared sound transmission system

A-   Grab Bar Installation. This provision is intended to ensure there is adequate backing for the installation of grab bars by a future occupant of the adaptable dwelling unit. Plywood, waferboard, particleboard or solid lumber behind the wall finish and encompassing the location of future grab bars located as described in Clause and Clauses or would provide suitable backing for the grab bar fasteners.

[Rev. 6, B.C. Reg. 221/2009.]