A Road Map to the Fire Code
A “Road Map” to the Fire Code
(Ontario Regulation 213/07, as amended)
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What is the Fire Code?
The Fire Code is a regulation made under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act. The Fire Code is a set of minimum requirements respecting fire safety within existing buildings and the surrounding property. The owner is responsible for complying with the Fire Code, except where otherwise specified. The municipal fire department enforces the Fire Code.
The Fire Code is organized into three Divisions:
Division A Compliance, Objectives and Functional Statements
Division B Acceptable Solutions
Division C Administrative Provisions
Division A provides two options for complying with the Fire Code:
- Comply with the acceptable solutions in Division B (described below), or
- Provide an alternative solution that will achieve the same level of performance as that provided by the acceptable solution.
Division B describes specific technical requirements intended to achieve fire safety in a building. The requirements are provided within nine (9) Parts, and are described below.
Division C describes Qualification requirements, Administrative Provisions, and Revocation and Commencement information of the Regulation. On January 2014, new qualification requirements were introduced requiring that for every building containing a care occupancy, a care and treatment occupancy, or a retirement home, every person required to implement the fire safety plan and every Chief Fire Official responsible for approving the fire safety plan, must have completed a training program or course acceptable to the Fire Marshal. The compliance date for this requirement is January 1, 2017.
How will I know where to look for various requirements in the Fire Code that might be applicable to my care facility, care and treatment facility, or retirement home?
Division B of the Fire Code is divided into 9 Parts. The following outline will assist you in finding your way through the Fire Code:
Part 1 Application and Definitions
In Part 1 you will find the following general information:
- Application of the Fire Code
- Definitions of Words and Phrases
For example, in Part 1, there is a requirement for written records of tests and corrective measures to be kept for 2 years and be available on request of the Chief Fire Official.
Part 2 Building and Occupant Fire Safety
In Part 2 you will find requirements relating to the following:
- Classification of Buildings by Major Occupancy
- Fire Separations
- Interior Finishing, Furnishing and Decorative Materials
- Fire Hazards
- Fire Department Access to Buildings
- Service Equipment
- Safety to Life
- Emergency Planning
- Installation of Smoke Alarms
- Installation of Carbon Monoxide Alarms
For example, in Part 2, you will find the requirement for buildings containing a care occupancy, a care and treatment occupancy, or a retirement home to have a fire safety plan. Part 2 also requires that supervisory staff be instructed in the emergency procedures outlined in the fire safety plan before they are given any responsibility for fire safety. Other important requirements include the need for sufficient supervisory staff available to carry out the duties in the fire safety plan.
Part 3 Property Protection for Industrial and Commercial Occupancies
Part 3 includes requirements relating to the following:
- Wood Products
- Indoor and Outdoor Storage
- Industrial Trucks
- Salvage Yards
Part 4 Flammable and Combustible Liquids
Part 4 provides for the storage, handling, processing and use of flammable and combustible liquids in buildings, structures and open areas.
This Part may apply to buildings containing care occupancy, a care and treatment occupancy, or a retirement home with maintenance shops where there is a use or handling of flammable liquids.
Part 5 Hazardous Materials, Processes and Operations
Part 5 applies to materials, processes and operations that involve a risk of explosion or high flammability, or that may otherwise create a hazard to life safety or health.
This Part will apply to buildings containing a care occupancy, a care and treatment occupancy, or a retirement home with maintenance shops where furniture is repaired using spray application of flammable and combustible materials, or where welding is performed.
Part 6 Fire Protection Equipment
In Part 6 you will find requirements relating to the inspection, testing, maintenance and operation of the following fire protection systems:
- Portable Extinguishers (includes installation)
- Fire Alarm and Voice Communication Systems for Life Safety
- Standpipe and Hose Systems
- Sprinkler Systems
- Water Supplies for Fire Protection
- Emergency Power Systems
- Special Extinguishing Systems
For example, in Part 6 you will find the requirement for smoke alarms in suites or sleeping rooms not in suites in buildings containing care occupancy, a care and treatment occupancy, or a retirement home, to be maintained in operating condition by the owner.
Part 7 Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Fire Emergency Systems in High Buildings
In Part 7, you will find requirements relating to the following:
- Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Fire Safety Systems
- Inspections and Tests for Smoke Control Equipment
For example, in Part 7 there is a requirement that smoke control systems designed to the Building Code be maintained to ensure they are fully operational.
Part 8 Demolition
Part 8 applies to the prevention and control of fire during any building demolition projects.
Part 9 Retrofit
Part 9 contains minimum mandatory life safety, or Retrofit, provisions for various classes of existing buildings including buildings containing care occupancy, a care and treatment occupancy, or a retirement home. The requirements within this Part are intended to ensure a minimum level of life safety to the occupants through the provision of:
- elements to contain a fire (e.g. fire separation of a furnace room)
- egress routes (e.g. corridors)
- early warning (e.g. fire alarm systems), and
- fire suppression (e.g. automatic sprinklers).
Note that Retrofit does not apply to buildings or parts of buildings that satisfy the construction requirements of specific editions of the Building Code. The rationale for this is that a building that was constructed to the referenced edition in Article 188.8.131.52. has a level of safety that meets or exceeds the level achieved through compliance with Retrofit.
For example, a building that contains a care occupancy that satisfies the construction requirements of the Building Code as it read on or after April 6, 1998, is exempt from Section 9.7 because those editions of the Building Code have provisions that meet or exceed the provisions of Section 9.7.
Section 9.1 General
Section 9.1 provides important information regarding:
- Scope/Application of Part 9
- Compliance schedule for Retrofit requirements in all sections
- Optional ways to comply with Retrofit requirements, such as:
- Alternatives may be approved by the Chief Fire Official
- Extension of time for completion (restrictions apply)
- Life Safety Study
Owners and operators of care occupancy, a care and treatment occupancy, or a retirement home should be aware that alternative materials, equipment or systems may be approved if in the opinion of the Chief Fire Official they will provide protection for life safety similar to the protection provided by compliance with the requirement.
Section 9.4 Health Care Facilities
Section 9.4 is the Retrofit section addressing minimum mandatory upgrading requirements for existing health care facilities regulated by legislation specified in Article 184.108.40.206.
Recent changes to the Fire Code will require the installation of an automatic sprinkler system in homes for special care, regulated under the Homes for Special Care Act, where sleeping accommodation is provided for more than 10 residents, and in long-term care homes, regulated under the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007, where the buildings containing such homes are either a care occupancy or a care and treatment occupancy. The automatic sprinkler system requirements are required to be operational by January 1, 2025.
Section 9.7 Care Occupancies and Retirement Homes
Section 9.7 is a Retrofit Section that came into effect on January 1, 2014, with a phased compliance schedule. It addresses minimum mandatory retrofit requirements for existing buildings containing care occupancies and retirement homes regulated under the Retirement Homes Act, 2010. The requirements are organized under the following subsections:
Subsection 9.7.1. Application
In addition to the requirements of Section 9.7, Article 220.127.116.11. also requires buildings regulated by Section 9.7 to comply with either Section 9.5 or Section 9.6, depending on building height. Buildings not greater than 3 storeys in building height and providing sleeping accommodation for not more than four persons do not have to comply with Section 9.5, but will still be required to comply with Section 9.7
Subsection 9.7.2. Containment
This subsection addresses the need to protect against fire spreading from one area to another. In addition to the requirements in Section 9.5 or Section 9.6, regarding fire separation for floor assemblies, suites and sleeping rooms not contained in suites, corridors serving suites, service rooms, and separating other major occupancies, and exit stairs, this subsection requires self-closing devices on doors to suites and sleeping rooms not in suites. Note that some exemptions are described.
Subsection 9.7.3. Means of Egress
This subsection addresses the requirements for getting occupants out of a building during emergency situations. In addition to the requirements in Section 9.5 or Section 9.6, regarding maximum travel distance to exits, minimum number of egress doors, exit signage and emergency lighting, this subsection requires emergency lighting in all exit stairways, public corridors and principal access to exits in buildings over three (3) stories high or buildings that provide sleeping accommodation for more than ten (10) persons.
This subsection addresses early detection of a fire to inform occupants of the need to evacuate. Smaller buildings may require less complex systems than larger buildings. In addition to the requirements in Section 9.5 or Section 9.6, regarding fire alarm systems and the various components, this subsection requires fire alarm monitoring, notification to the fire department when the sprinkler system is activated, smoke alarms in each suite or sleeping rooms not within a suite, and voice communication. Note that some exemptions and design options are also provided.
Subsection 9.7.5. Suppression
In addition to the requirements in Section 9.5 or Section 9.6, regarding the provision of standpipe systems and sprinkler systems, as well as features to enable firefighting such as access routes and firefighter elevators, this subsection provides the requirement for a sprinkler system in buildings that contain either care occupancy or a retirement home. Note that some exemptions and design options are also provided.
Care Occupancy – means an occupancy in which special care is provided by a facility, directly through its staff or indirectly through another provider, to residents of the facility
(a) who require special care because of cognitive or physical limitations, and
(b) who, as a result of those limitations, would be incapable of evacuating the occupancy, if necessary, without the assistance of another person.
Care and Treatment Occupancy – means an occupancy in which persons receive special care and treatment.
Chief Fire Official – means the assistant to the Fire Marshal who is the Municipal Fire Chief or a member or members of the fire department appointed by the Municipal Fire Chief under Article 18.104.22.168. of Division C or a person appointed by the Fire Marshal under Article 22.214.171.124. of Division C.
Major Occupancy – the principal occupancy for which a building or part thereof is used or intended to be used, and includes the subsidiary occupancies that are an integral part of the principal occupancy. Typically dining rooms/restaurants and meeting rooms would be considered subsidiary to the principal use, whereas an attached shopping mall will be a separate major occupancy.
Residential occupancy – means an occupancy in which sleeping accommodation is provided to residents who are not harboured for the purpose of receiving special care or treatment and are not involuntarily detained.
Retirement Home – means a retirement home regulated under the Retirement Homes Act, 2010, regardless of whether it is care occupancy or a residential occupancy.
Supervisory staff – means those occupants of a building who have some delegated responsibility for the fire safety of other occupants under the fire safety plan and may include the fire department where the fire department agrees to accept these responsibilities.