Government of Ontario

OFM - Waste Handling 8

Protecting the Public and the Environment

Gaps to be Closed - ANNEX A

Gaps in Existing Ontario Fire Code - Appendix 1

The Ontario Fire Code currently has no requirements relating to the storage of flammable and combustible liquids. However, Part 4, which is in the final stages of development, will deal with hazards associated with flammable and combustible liquids.

Both Parts 3 and 5 are based on the 1980 National Fire Code and have remained unchanged (except for the addition of Subsection 3.5.3.) since the Ontario Fire Code was first published in 1981. Both Parts need to be updated to match the advances in fire protection technology and current practices in industry. Updating these sections will provide flexibility to owners in achieving an appropriate level of fire safety at reasonable cost and with minimum disruption to their normal activities.

In Subsection 3.3.2. all combustible storage is treated alike, with no consideration given to the actual degree of hazard presented by the material. The regulations do not apply at all if the storage is higher than 6.4 m (20.1 ft.).

There are no requirements for:

• sprinklers, standpipe and hose systems,

• adequate water supplies for fire fighting,

• fire department access routes to the building,

• fire alarm systems,

• maintaining building security,

• fire safety plans, and

• diking or other measures to contain fire water runoff.


Section 3.5 (except for Subsection 3.5.3.) also needs updating because there are no requirements for:

• adequate water supplies for fire fighting,

• fire department access routes within the storage yard,

• fencing, lighting or other security features,

• fire safety plans, and

• diking or other measures to contain fire water runoff.

Many recycling plants are less than 4 storeys in height and have low occupant loads, so there is no legal requirement for a fire safety plan.


Proposed Regulation for Closing the Gaps - ANNEX B

National Fire Code - Appendix 1

By contrast with the Ontario Fire Code, there was a major updating and reorganization of the storage requirements in the National Fire Code in 1995. Because this Code is developed by committees with representation from the fire service, industry and user groups from across Canada, there has been a great deal of public input into the code requirements.

The National Fire Code does have requirements for flammable and combustible liquids in Part 4. All other storage requirements are now grouped in Part 3 and organized in a "user friendly" manner. Part 3 contains requirements for:

• radioactive materials,

• explosives and fireworks,

• compressed gases,

• dangerous goods (as defined in the "Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations"),

• reactive substances, and

• all types of indoor and outdoor storage.


The requirements in the National Fire Code are related to the hazard presented by the material being stored. This not only provides better protection where it is appropriate, but also relieves owners of providing protection where it is not really necessary. For consistency, requirements which are common to all types of storage are in one section.

Part 3 of the National Fire Code has requirements relating to:

• building construction,

• pile size and dimensions,

• separation of incompatible products,

• clearances,

• access aisles,

• fire department access routes,

• sprinkler protection,

• fire extinguishers,

• special extinguishing systems,

• heating equipment,

• ignition sources,

• housekeeping,

• smoke venting,

• spill control,

• corrosion protection,

• labeling,

• training, and

• fire safety plans.


The requirements of the National Fire Code fill in several gaps in the Ontario Fire Code, as well as supplying more detail for requirements which are already included. Clearer and more detailed requirements give owners much better direction as to what is required of them and also makes enforcement easier for the fire service, if voluntary compliance cannot be obtained within a reasonable time. The additional provisions contained in Part 3 of the current (1995) National Fire Code, will enhance the level of protection and also provide flexibility to the owners to meet their responsibilities.

The National Fire Code also has provision in Article for the authority having jurisdiction to accept alternatives, where fire and life safety will be provided equivalent to the performance level required by the Code. This could be especially important when dealing with recycling operations, because some of them are using materials or procedures which are not common in industry. The authority to accept alternatives permits the fire service to tailor the protection to the operation and permits the removal of unnecessary roadblocks to recycling operations.

Adding Part 4 to the Ontario Fire Code - Appendix2

The Ontario Fire Code currently has no requirements relating to the storage of flammable and combustible liquids. However, Part 4, which is in the final stages of development, will deal with hazards associated with flammable and combustible liquids.

The proposed Part 4 will address the risks posed by storage, handling, processing or use of flammable and combustible liquids by controlling:

• storage quantities,

• containment of the liquid and vapours in acceptable containers,

• ventilation,

• handling procedures

• sources of ignition,

• fire compartmentation,

• piping and transport systems,

• fire prevention and protection features,

• minimizing the impact on the environment from fire, and

• accidental releases.


Coroner's juries and the Ontario fire chiefs have recommended Ontario proceed with implementation of Part 4 of the 1995 National Fire Code of Canada, dealing with the storage, processing, handling and use of flammable and combustible liquids.


Case Histories -- Annex C


Sandoz Chemical Plant Fire - Basel Switzerland, November 1, 1986

On the night of November 1, 1986 a traffic patrol discovered flames shooting out of the roof of a warehouse in Basel, Switzerland. Just 10 minutes later, the company fire brigade started to fight the fire. The fire spread rapidly and the Fire Chief opted to protect the neighbouring warehouses. However, exploding drums were flying through the air and damaging nearby buildings where some 1000 tons of highly combustible liquids were stored. To avoid a large scale catastrophe, he decided at that point to extinguish the fire. Up to 30,000 litres a minute of water was pumped into the fire. The contaminated fire water run-off containing approximately 30 tons of toxic materials, mainly pesticides, washed into the nearby Rhine river. A 25 mile long chemical slick drifted slowly downstream from the Swiss border to the North Sea. By the time the slick traveled 500 miles down the winding scenic river, half a million fish were dead and several municipal water supplies were contaminated and were shut down for fear of illness to the population. The North Sea's winter cod harvest was also threatened. This fire with its firefighting activities clearly illustrates the potential for environmental damage from uncontained fire water run-off. Containment of fire water run-off needs to be considered in pre-fire planning, especially where toxic chemicals or materials are present that produce toxic chemicals when burned. This property had a 12,000 gallon run-off catch basin, which was completely inadequate when fire water was being applied at the peak rate of 8,000 gallons per minute.


Sherwin Williams Paint Warehouse Fire - Dayton, Ohio, May 27, 1987

On May 27, 1987, an estimated 40 litres of flammable liquid were accidentally spilled in an automotive paint warehouse in Dayton, Ohio. Sparks from an electric lift truck ignited the spilled liquid and the resulting fire consumed 5,000,000 litres of flammable liquids, destroying the entire warehouse. This happened even though the building was equipped with sprinklers and the fire department arrived at the scene 11 minutes after ignition. The warehouse was erected in an area of major drinking water supply for a nearby town. The warehouse property did not provide adequate fire water retention facilities and, therefore, the firefighters opted for a controlled burn-out. The fire lasted for six days until it was finally declared out, producing large amounts of black smoke over the city. Due to the burn-out decision, rather than attempting extinguishment using fire water, only minor damage was done to the ground-water in the area.

In this fire, the decision not to apply water to the warehouse fire resulted in far less contamination to the ground-water. State and local air and water pollution experts were brought to the fire scene early for consultation.

Farmers' Cooperative Association Fire - Harrow, Ontario, July 23, 1990

At approximately 7:30 p.m. July 23, 1990, a fire erupted at a facility in Harrow, Ontario which stored insecticides, herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers for resale to the local farmers. This fire resulted in a property loss of $660,000 and the evacuation of around 3,000 people from a two mile radius around the fire. The evacuation lasted almost 24 hours. Non commercial fish (mainly carp) in nearby drainage ditches died. There was no known contamination of potable water supplies from this fire or the firefighting activities. Cleanup was contracted to an outside company specializing in chemical cleanup. Cleanup costs were as follows:

Off-site cleanup:

Pickup and disposal of contaminated water GHT > $225,000

Although this fire resulted in a relatively small direct damage fire loss, it did result in significant environmental impact by causing the evacuation of a whole community for 24 hours.

Horticultural Technologies Fire - Kitchener, Ontario, March 7, 1987

At approximately 1:00 a.m. March 6, 1987, a fire was reported at Horticultural Technologies Limited at 110 Hanson Avenue, Kitchener, Ontario. This company manufactures floral foam blocks. The foaming operation involved the use of phenol formaldehyde resin, freon gas as a blowing agent and phenol sulphonic acid as a catalyst to make large foam blocks which are cut into small blocks and packed for shipping. Foam blocks of three densities are made. This fire in the 1-storey, concrete block 19,200 ft.2 building resulted in a loss of $750,000 ($300,000 building loss and $450,000 building content loss).

For more than one hour, firefighter battled the fire, unaware of what chemicals were present. It took that long for the plant manager to arrive from his home in Mississauga bringing a list of the chemicals in the building. Firefighters managed to prevent the drums of phenol sulphonic acid from exploding by dousing them with water to keep them cool. Some water from the firefighting activities washed dyes and chemical into Schneider Creek. The amount is unknown, but since all of the dyes and chemicals were water soluble, no cleanup action was taken.

Smoke and fumes forced the evacuation of about 12 employees from the nearby Overland Express, which was located downwind from the burning plant. Ten men, including three employees of Overland Express and two police officers went to St. Mary's Hospital complaining they felt a tightness in their chest and sore throats. They were treated for fume inhalation, some were given oxygen, while those complaining of chest discomfort also received X-rays and an electrocardiogram. All results were reported to be negative.

Subsequent to the fire, there have been four deaths (three firefighters and one policeman) and currently there are 12 other firefighters who have a variety of illnesses including kidney and liver problems, fainting spells and Parkinson's disease. All these men were among the 69 firefighters and 16 police officers who were present for a period of time at this fire. Due to the common nature of these cancers and illnesses, a statistical link could not be proven.

Airport Fire - North Bay, Ontario July 27, 1997

This fire started on July 27, 1997 at 1:30 p.m. in a hangar situated at the North Bay Airport. The hanger contained recycled shredded/pellet tire material, which caught fire and was put out in about two hours. There were no casualties and no one was evacuated from the vicinity. There was approximately 910,000 kg. (2,000,000 lbs.) of rubber material at the site. The piles were approximately 2.4 m (8 ft.) in height. Water and foam were used to extinguish the fire. Smoldering rubber debris was removed and placed on the tarmac and extinguished.

building loss:

$ 500,000.00

contents loss:

$ 280,000.00

fire department expenses:

$   10,000.00

MOEE expenses:

$        300.00




Black smoke was emitted by the fire. Surface water (run-off) had seeped into the sandy soil around the hanger. However, the run-off did not enter adjoining drains or the Trout Lake Drainage Basin. The run-off water was clear in appearance, as such it appeared that oil had not been generated from the tires during the fire.

According to MOEE the ground water may not have been contaminated.

The fire department had used 750,000 litres (165,000 Imp. gal.) of water to fight the fire. The run-off was contained using 'soil dikes'.