Reply To: Inspection – 2 apartments over an insurance business

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HOME Forums Forums Fire Code & Enforcement Inspection – 2 apartments over an insurance business Reply To: Inspection – 2 apartments over an insurance business

Vicki VeldmanVicki Veldman

I would be happy to answer some of your questions.

Always remember, if you are going to ask an Owner to do something, you need a code reference to back you, or if you don’t have a code reference, you are writing a F Order.

Question #1:  You can order a one hour fire separation by issuing a F Order.  I would highly recommend you reach out to Joe from North Bay who posted in this string.  He has advised he has been issuing F Orders for these type of situations.  I would ask him if any of the Orders have been appealed by the Owners and if so, did the OFM hold up the Order.  I would like to know the answer myself.  If the OFM is upholding his Orders, I would write the F Order.  I am sure he will help you with the wording/send you a sample of what he is writing.

The Building Department won’t order the fire separation in.  An example when they should order it in is if it is proven there has been a Change of Use in this building at some point in time and a review wasn’t completed by the municipality.   For example, if at one time the upper floor of this building was offices and an Owner along the way converted it to apartments they should have had an architect submit for a Change of Use permit which would include a review under Part 10 of OBC, “Change of Use’ to determine whether construction is required.  If that wasn’t done, the Building Department could ask for that review now.  The one year limitation for acting on this is from the day of discovery, not the day of construction.  A lot of building inspectors try to say they can’t act on it because it happened too long ago, or they don’t know when it happened.  Not true, the Building Code Act was changed to say from the day of discovery.

Question #2 and #3:  smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are not required in an office, even in a new build.  Check out 9.10.19 of the OBC for application for smoke alarms and application for carbon monoxide alarms. If it isn’t required in the building code it won’t be required by Fire Code.   Check out the OFM Questions and Answers Carbon Monoxide Alarms which is very helpful

Question #4:  Carbon monoxide alarms would not be required in the apartments unless they have a fuel fired appliance within the apartment, or there is a service room containing a fuel fired appliance that has a wall, floor or ceiling that touches the apartments.  Only the apartments that are touching the service room require the CO alarm.  Service rooms containing a fuel fired appliance serving a residential occupancy require a CO alarm in the service room.  Any dwelling unit that has an attached garage requires a CO alarm between the sleeping area and the remainder of the dwelling unit.

Question #5:  smoke alarms are not required in hallways of any type of building including residential occupancies.  Smoke alarms are to be between sleeping areas and the remainder of the dwelling unit.  Be careful with your use of the term of smoke alarms and smoke detectors and know the difference.  Smoke alarms make a noise and are what we have in our homes.  Smoke detectors form part of a fire alarm system, don’t make noise, detect smoke and send a signal to the fire alarm panel to activate the fire alarm system audible devices.  A lot of people, including architects and engineers don’t use these two terms correctly.

The only exception to a residential occupancy not having smoke alarms in the hallways is where the building has a residential occupancy, meets the application of Section 9.5 of the Fire Code, meets the application to have a fire alarm system (more than four units sharing an exit) but there are not more than 10 dwelling units in the building.  In that case, the Owner is given the option to install an interconnected smoke alarm system and manual pull stations (specific design included in 9.5) in lieu of a full fire alarm system if they choose.

If at any time the main floor commercial space was converted into something that needed a fire alarm system, so for example a restaurant serving alcohol with an occupant load over 150, the restaurant would need a fire alarm system, and the fire alarm would have to extend throughout the whole building including the residential above.  At that time you would have smoke detectors forming part of the fire alarm system (which are different from smoke alarms) in the hallways.  Not likely this would happen in this building I am assuming, since there are only two residential units, that tells me the main floor space isn’t big enough to ever have an occupant load over 150.

Hope this helps!