Question and Answers

Fire Code*

*

Please be advised that the Chief Fire Official has the authority to enforce the Fire Code within his or her jurisdiction and should be contacted prior to implementing any opinion expressed in the following information.

Division A

Article 1.4.1.2. - Defined terms

Care Occupancy

Q1:

How does one determine if an occupancy is a care occupancy?

A1:

Prior to making this determination, all elements of the “care occupancy” definition need to be considered. An occupancy is deemed to be a care occupancy if it has all of the following characteristics:

  1. Special care is provided by a facility, either directly through its staff or indirectly through another provider,
  2. The people who receive special care are residents of the facility,
  3. Residents require special care because of cognitive or physical limitations, and,
  4. Residents, as a result of these limitations, are incapable of evacuating the occupancy without the assistance of another person.

Q2:      

What is meant by the term “facility”?

A2:      

Facility means a building or a portion of a building designed, built or used to serve a specific function.

Q3:      

An apartment building contains several apartments occupied by persons who contract directly with an outside agency for the provision of special care services.  These occupants lease their apartments directly from the building landlord.  The landlord has no involvement, directly or indirectly, with the provision of special care services. Is either the landlord or the outside agency operating a facility within the meaning of the definition of “care occupancy”? 

A3:      

No.  Neither the landlord nor the agency is operating a facility within the meaning of the definition of “care occupancy”.

Q4:      

An apartment building contains several apartments that are leased by an outside agency for the purpose of providing special care services and living accommodation to its clients.  The landlord has no involvement, directly or indirectly with the provisions of the special care services. Is either the landlord or the outside agency operating a facility within the meaning of the definition of “care occupancy”?

A4:      

Yes. The outside agency is operating a facility because it is providing both the living accommodation and the special care services to its clients.

Q5:

What is meant by the term cognitive limitation as used in the definition?

A5:

Someone is considered to have a cognitive limitation within the meaning of the definition if, for example, they do not understand or remember what activation of the fire alarm system means or do not understand or remember what to do once the alarm has been activated.

Q6:

Is an occupancy within a home that is regulated by the Homes for Special Care Act considered a care occupancy or a residential occupancy?

A6:

Homes that are regulated by the Homes for Special Care Act are not automatically classified one way or the other. The occupancy classification, like any occupancy, is determined by comparing the occupancy to the elements of the definitions. An occupancy is a care occupancy if it has all of the elements within the definition of a care occupancy. Otherwise it is considered a residential occupancy.

Q7:

Is an occupancy of a Group Home considered a care occupancy or a residential occupancy?

A7:

Group Homes are not automatically classified one way or the other. The occupancy classification, like any occupancy, is determined by comparing the occupancy to the elements of the definitions. The occupancy is a care occupancy if it has all of the elements within the definition of a care occupancy, otherwise it is considered a residential occupancy.

Retirement Home

Q1:

Does the term retirement home refer only to retirement homes that are licensed under the Retirement Homes Act (RHA)?

A1:

No. The term refers to retirement homes that are regulated under the RHA, whether they happen to be licensed or not.

Q2:

How does one determine if a facility is regulated under the Retirement Homes Act (RHA), 2010?

A2:

The first step is to check the Retirement Home Regulatory Authority (RHRA) website – www.rhra.ca - to determine if the retirement home is listed on their Public Register. If the home is listed it is regulated under the RHA. If the home is not listed in the Public Register the RHRA should be contacted for their assistance to make a determination.

Division B

Part 2

Article 2.1.2.1. – Classification of buildings or parts thereof

Q1:

Can some care occupancies be classified as residential occupancies?

A1:

Yes. Ontario Building Code Article 3.1.2.5. permits a care occupancy to be classified as a residential occupancy where:

  • The occupants live as a single housekeeping unit in a suite,
  • Sleeping accommodation is provided for no more than 10 persons, and
  • Not more than 2 occupants require assistance to evacuate in an emergency.

Note: the reference to occupants and persons refers to persons receiving care. It does not refer to staff.

Q2:

Is it necessary to classify a retirement home that is regulated by the Retirement Homes Act as a care occupancy or a residential occupancy to the purpose of Fire Code application?

A2:

No, the requirements in the Fire Code for such retirement homes are specifically identified independent of occupancy classification.

Article 2.8.2.2. –Sufficient Supervisory staff

Q1:

When determining staffing levels required in a care occupancy or a care and treatment occupancy, are all residents/patients assumed to require assistance to evacuate?

A1:

Yes. Appendix D of OFMEM Guideline TG-03-2016 Staffing Levels in Care Occupancies, Care and Treatment Occupancies and Retirement Homes provides guidance on assistance that patients or residents may require.

Q2:      

Are supervisory staff required to assist every resident in a retirement home regulated by the Retirement Homes Act?

A2:      

No. Supervisory staff are required only for those residents that need assistance to evacuate. Other residents are expected to follow the procedures outlined in the fire safety plan.

Q3:      

What criteria should be used when determining if a resident in a retirement home regulated by the Retirement Homes Act requires assistance to evacuate?

A3:      

If a resident is unable to respond to a fire alarm and initiate self-evacuation because of physical or cognitive limitations, then they require assistance to evacuate.  Examples include residents that require assistance to get out of bed, and residents that may not be awakened by a fire alarm at night due to hearing impairment.

     

Q4:

When assessing sufficiency of supervisory staff levels for compliance with Article 2.8.2.2., are owner of care occupancies, care and treatment occupancies and retirement homes required to complete the exercise contemplated in Section 6 of OFMEM TG 03 2016 "Staffing Levels in Care Occupancies, Care and Treatment Occupancies and Retirement Homes”?

A4:

The guideline was published to assist owners and fire officials establish if there are sufficient supervisory staff in buildings regulated by Sentence 2.8.2.2.(1), however, use of the guideline is not mandatory. Undertaking the table top calculations outlined in OFMEM TG-03-2016 are a means of assessing sufficiency of supervisory staffing levels. The use of fire drills and other evaluation methods could also be used to assist with this assessment.

     

Q5:

What steps can be taken by an owner if it is determined by calculations, conducting the fire drill described in Sentence 2.8.3.2.(6) or any other evaluation method, that there are insufficient supervisory staff available to carry out the duties of the fire safety plan in compliance with Sentence 2.8.2.2.(1)?

A5:

Part 6 of technical guideline OFMEM-TG-03-2016 ”Staffing Levels in Care Occupancies, Care and Treatment Occupancies and Retirement Homes” provides guidance on adjustments that may be considered.

     

Q6:

Are the staff referred to in Sentence 2.8.2.2.(1) required to be always in the buildings that contain the occupancies described (care occupancies, care and treatment occupancies, detention occupancies and retirement homes), or can they be located elsewhere?

A6:

No, the staff referred to in Sentence 2.8.2.2.(1) can be located anywhere on the site or premises provided that sufficient staff will be available in the event of a fire emergency to respond to carry out the duties prescribed in the fire safety plan.

2.8.3.2. (1) Frequency of Fire Drills

Q1:

How often are fire drills required to be conducted for supervisory staff in retirement homes?

A1:

Fire drills are required to be conducted at least annually, except that they must be held:

  1. At least monthly for retirement homes that contain care occupancies, and
  2. At least every three months for retirement homes in buildings that are within the scope of Subsection 3.2.6. of the Building Code

2.8.3.2.(6) Approved Fire Drill Scenario

Q1:

How does the annual fire drill scenario/worksheet take into consideration those residents in a retirement home that do not require assistance to evacuate in a fire emergency?

A1:

The approved fire drill scenario is intended to demonstrate that there are sufficient staff to assist those residents that require assistance to evacuate. Staff do not have to be allocated to the residents that do not require assistance to reach the approved point of safety.

Q2:      

Where a building contains both a care and treatment occupancy, such as a long term care home, and a retirement home, does this sentence require a separate approved fire drill scenario for each occupancy?

A2:      

Yes. Where a building has more than one of the occupancies listed in this Sentence, a separate approved fire drill scenario is required for each occupancy.

Q3:

A fire drill is conducted in accordance with the provisions of Sentence 2.8.3.2.(6) for a scenario approved by the Chief Fire Official. The drill reveals that the requirements of Sentence 2.8.2.2.(1) are not met, that is, staffing levels are not sufficient for carrying out the duties in the fire safety plan. Is this a contravention of Sentence 2.8.3.2.(6)?

A3:

No. The owner has met their obligation under Sentence 2.8.3.2.(6) since the drill was conducted for a scenario approved by the Chief Fire Official. However, the drill demonstrates that there is a contravention of Sentence 2.8.2.2.(1) for the scenario in question.

Q4:

Are owners required to complete the exercise contemplated in Section 6 of technical guideline OFMEM TG-03-2016 "Staffing Levels in Care Occupancies, Care and Treatment Occupancies and Retirement Homes” as part of the mandatory annual fire drill required by Sentence 2.8.3.2.(6)?

A4:

No, there is no requirement under Sentence 2.8.3.2.(6) to calculate staffing levels in accordance with the guideline. The guideline was published to assist owners and fire officials establish through table top calculations if there are sufficient supervisory staff in buildings regulated by Sentence 2.8.2.2.(1) to carry out the duties in the fire safety plan for various scenarios.

Fire Marshal Directive 2014 -002 prescribes that assistants to the Fire Marshal must use Annex A to establish the scenario representing the lowest staffing level complement for use in the annual fire drill. 

Q5:

Does the annual fire drill required by Sentence 2.8.3.2.(6) have to be carried out at the time the staffing complement is at its lowest?

A5:

No. As stated in Annex A, referenced in FM Directive 2014-002, the annual fire drill may be undertaken on any day and at any time provided that it involves the number of staff that would be available to carry out the duties in the fire safety plan at the time the staffing level is at its lowest.

Q6:

Does the annual fire drill have to involve residents or patients?

A6:

No. As stated in Annex A in FM Directive 2014-002, the owner may consider the use of proxies in lieu of actual residents or patients.

Q7:

The resident room of fire origin, selected in developing an annual fire drill scenario, is joined to another resident room by a shared bathroom. Does Step 2, as outlined in the form contained in Annex A, require that residents of both rooms be removed?

A7:

No. However closing the bathroom door is a task under Step 2.

Q8:

If an owner/operator installs closures having a higher rating than the rating for the walls, can they be given increased time for evacuation based on the doors?  For instance, the walls have a fire resistance rating of 30 minutes and they want to put in a door with a rating of 45 minutes.

A8:

No. The time available for evacuation is based upon which feature, the walls or the door, provides the lowest rating. The time available is 30 minutes for the example given.

9.1.1.2 Compliance Options for Retrofit

Q1:

A building, regulated by Section 9.7 was regulated by Section 9.5 before Section 9.7 became effective. The owner achieved compliance with Section 9.5 by implementing an approved Life Safety Study. What is the status of the Life Safety Study now that the building is regulated by Section 9.7?

A1:

The approved Life Safety Study should be reviewed/refreshed to ensure that it takes into account how an acceptable level of life safety can be achieved where some life safety performance requirements are not met. In particular, where the previous Life Safety Study made use of enhanced systems that are now required by Section 9.7, the original deficiencies may need to be addressed in another way.

9.1.3.1. Schedule of Compliance

Q1:

What is the deadline for the installation of automatic sprinklers in a building that has both a Retirement Home that is regulated by Section 9.7 and a Long Term Care Home that is regulated by Section 9.4?

A1:

The building, except for the Long Term Care Home, must be sprinklered by January 01, 2019. Due to the exemption in 9.7.1.1., the deadline for sprinklering the Long Term Care Home is January 01, 2025 as specified in Sentence 9.1.3.1.(1) .

9.4.5.5. Sprinkler Systems

Q1:

Under Sentence 9.4.5.5.(3), how can NFPA 13R be used for buildings up to 6 storeys high when the scope of NFPA 13R is for buildings up to 4 storeys high?

A1:

The code reference is to the design and installation provisions of the standard and not to the application statement(s) of the standard.

9.7.1.1. Application

Q1:

Does Section 9.7 regulate every building where seniors reside?

A1:

Section 9.7 regulates only those buildings that have a care occupancy, as defined, or a retirement home, as defined. Other seniors’ homes are not regulated by Section 9.7

9.7.1.3.,9.7.2.1,9.7.3.1,9.7.5.1 Sleeping Accommodation provided for persons

Q1

Is the code referring to staff when it refers to the number of persons provided with sleeping accommodation?

A1:

No. the code is not referring to staff, even if they live in the building

9.7.4.1. Fire Signal to Fire Department

Q1:

Is a monitoring service required to monitor more than activation of a fire alarm signal or an alert signal on a fire alarm system?

A1:

No.  Despite the fact that ULC and NFPA compliant fire alarm monitoring stations can monitor various types of fire alarm signals, such as supervisory or trouble signals, plus details of fire detection location in the building, a single fire alarm or alert signal from the fire alarm panel is all that needs to be monitor.

9.7.4.2. Sprinkler Signal to Fire Department

Q1:      

Do all sprinklers systems require provision for notifying the fire department when systems have activated?

A1:      

Yes, unless the building has a fire alarm system or an interconnected smoke alarm system that has provisions for notifying the fire department upon activation.

9.7.5.1. Sprinkler Systems

Q1:

Under Sentence 9.7.5.1.(2), how can NFPA 13D be used for buildings up to 3 storeys high that have sleeping accommodation for up to 10 persons when the scope of NFPA 13D is for one and two family dwellings?

A1:

The code reference is to the design and installation provisions of the standard and not to the application statement(s) of the standard.

Q2:      

What water supply duration is required for an existing sprinkler system designed and installed to NFPA 13D for a building within the scope of Sentence 9.7.5.1.(2)?

A2:      

Although the standard generally requires a minimum water supply of 10 minutes, the minimum supply required under Sentence 9.7.5.1.(2) is 20 minutes.

Q3:      

Under Sentence 9.7.5.1.(3), how can NFPA 13R be used for buildings up to 6 storeys high when the scope of NFPA 13R is buildings up to 4 storeys high?

A3:      

The reference is to the design and installation provisions of the standard and not the application statement(s) of the standard.

Q4:      

If a sprinkler system is connected to a fire alarm system such that water flowing through the sprinkler system causes activation of the fire alarm system, does this comply with Sentence 9.7.5.1.(5)?

A4:      

Yes. Such an arrangement provides a local electric waterflow alarm.

Division C

1.2.3.2. – Qualifications of Persons who are Required to Implement the Provisions of Section 2.8 of Division B

Q1:

Are supervisory staff, as defined in the Fire Code, required to take the course referred to in Sentence 1.2.3.2.(1) of Division C?

A1:

No. The course that has been approved by the Fire Marshal for supervisory staff is not mandatory.

The course referred to in Sentence 1.2.3.2.(1) of Division C applies to the owner or to a person designated by the owner to be responsible for implementing the fire safety plan. This course is mandatory and has been approved by the Fire Marshal.

Both courses are available through the Public Services Health and Safety Association (PSHSA) website at http://www.pshsa.ca/ofmem/.