Darren Zettler

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  • in reply to: Vulnerable Occupancies #2666
    Darren ZettlerDarren Zettler
    Participant

    I’m not a fan of the huge overly cumbersome checklist that is really just printed right out of the Fire Code. It’s a bit of an insult to a person’s intelligence and I don’t believe a ‘checklist’ should be 17 pages long. It should be shortened by about 15 pages, streamlined and made so that all of the answers should be either YES or NO instead of switching back and forth between negative and positive responses like the current version does.

    in reply to: Hose Stations vs Hose Packs #2626
    Darren ZettlerDarren Zettler
    Participant

    Hi Bob:

    I’ve heard similar things from owners over the years. However, for me, using ‘cost’ as a justification for removing fire safety equipment doesn’t go over well for me. Next they will ask if they really need fire extinguishers, after all, fighting a fire is dangerous. While most of the time firefighters will use their own hose, there is a small percentage of the time where someone else ‘trained” (off duty firefighter, part time firefighter or even someone who has taken a training course) may need to use the hose. Also, I think there is also a chance that a firefighter may use the hose under some circumstances. The maintenance of the hoses is basically an inspection for damage and an annual ‘re-rack’. There is no requirement in the Ontario Fire Code to hydrostatically test the hoses or replace them due to age. They only require replacement when damaged. That said, the maintenance costs are not high. Contractors try to upsell building owners with hose replacements and HTests but these are NFPA requirements and not required under OFC. If the owners are doing what the fire code requires I would argue that most of the hoses out there would be safe for a firefighter to use.
    Usually my position is that removing fire safety equipment that is already installed and paid for is not generally a good thing.

    in reply to: Electronic devices used for inspections #2510
    Darren ZettlerDarren Zettler
    Participant

    Hi Susan:

    We have been using iPads for 2 to 3 years now. We have used an app called eCompliance InspectionPad which was free when we started but the price has since gone up. It works well and is very flexible so overall I would say it is a success. You can create your own forms very easily and embed photos and then email the building owner a complete PDF immediately at the end of the inspection. iPads currently cost anywhere from $600 to $1000 depending on size, features and specs.

    in reply to: Enforcement Question #2438
    Darren ZettlerDarren Zettler
    Participant

    I would think you can just charge for failing to comply with the original Order again? Am I missing something here?

    in reply to: Replacement of fire alarm systems #2213
    Darren ZettlerDarren Zettler
    Participant

    I see I have generated some good discussion. Someone in my own office put it this way: If I renovate my house built in the 1980s would I have to install hardwired interconnected smoke alarms with strobes? I guess it depends on the extent of the renovation. How many house renovations have you seen where the Building Inspector makes the owner put in hardwired smoke alarms? I’ve seen a bunch.
    I wonder if I removed the outside wall of an old commercial building and kept the same footprint but built a totally new wall to replace it would I have to put in drainage? Waterproofing? Insulation? Any of the other features that a new wall would have compared to an old wall. Probably would need to.
    Lots of good information from Lukasz. We can’t always assume that the old building is a Part 9 retrofit building though. Could be a school (no retrofit), commercial building or industrial building. Just seems wrong to me that buildings that are 50, 60 or 70 years old get building permits that don’t require upgrades. The Fire Code is supposed to be about maintenance not about forcing people through Orders to ‘upgrade’ buildings that slip through loopholes in (OBC) construction standards. Regardless of decibel readings fire alarms are to be checked for audibility ‘throughout the building’ as per CAN/ULC-536 on an annual basis during the inspection.
    Anyone have any old schools out there with fire alarm panels that have been replaced but they still don’t have smoke or heat detectors in the stairwells? Seems wrong to me.
    If it is considered a Part 11 OBC ‘renovation’ who is doing ‘design’ of these replacement systems? (Answer: noboby). Who is making sure the programming and the system operation is suitable for the building? (Answer: maybe the installing tech or company, the same people in many cases who are replacing the panel and even verifying.) {I know there is supposed to be a separate designer, installer and verifier, but how many panels get replaced with one ‘company’ doing it all?}
    Seems to me the Building Code needs to re-think this.
    Here’s the excerpt from the OBC. Sounds like a ‘new’ system should comply with ‘all other parts’ Is replacing the control panel or all of the devices or wiring a ‘repair”?
    11.3.1. New and Existing Building Systems
    11.3.1.1. Material Alteration or Repair of a Building System
    (1) Where an existing building system is materially altered or repaired, the performance level of the building after the material alteration or repair shall be at least equal to the performance level of the building prior to the material alteration or repair.
    11.3.1.2. New Building Systems and Extension of Existing Building Systems
    (1) Except as provided in Article 11.3.3.1. and Section 11.5., the design and construction of a new building system or the extension of an existing building system, shall comply with all other Parts.

    I’d like to hear from a few more departments.

    in reply to: Replacement of fire alarm systems #2207
    Darren ZettlerDarren Zettler
    Participant

    Hi Duncan:

    Thanks for the reply. Verification inspections have been done all along (hypothetically) and both 537 and 536 reports are in order and OK. However, I am talking about the design and performance of the system. No smokes in stairwells, no duct smokes (not in original post but a similar example), no monitoring. The design is a 1960s design and never met any Building Code because there was no building code at the time.
    Annual inspections, like much of the fire code, do not comment on design or require design changes. They only inspect what is there to ensure it is working as intended. Verifications also would not affect design when the building department gives them permission to do the project under OBC Part 11 instead of OBC Part 3.

    in reply to: Exit signs lacking in building #2175
    Darren ZettlerDarren Zettler
    Participant

    When was the original building constructed? If prior to 1975 there was no Building Code in Ontario. As Joe said, this is a bit tricky. Our job is to enforce the fire code and you won’t see installation of exit signs or most other things in there. Writing an Order under (f) is always an option, but so is an appeal by the owner. Sometimes a little education and persuasion speaking to the owner may get a voluntary installation done, but only if the project is not an expensive one. It’s easy to get someone to voluntarily add one exit sign or one emergency lighting unit, but a whole different story if the building needs 32 exit signs.
    Sometimes some research into the building history helps and I usually start with original drawings from our Building Department if available. Good luck. Let us know how it turns out and what you decide to do.

    in reply to: Furniture in corridor outcropping #2139
    Darren ZettlerDarren Zettler
    Participant

    The building is fully sprinklered. The sprinklers were added voluntarily by the owner when they were also sprinklering a retirement home they own nearby.

    in reply to: Furniture in corridor outcropping #2138
    Darren ZettlerDarren Zettler
    Participant

    Just to clarify the fire I mentioned was NOT in the same building as I am referring to in the above post. Just thought I would mention that. Good responses so far. The furniture is a mix of solid wood and upholstered. I wish there was a way to post pictures or at least drawings on this forum. I see that 2.4.1.2. allows for APPROVED furniture so long as it does not obstruct the means of egress. Most of this furniture is not an obstruction issue as it is not in the main part of the corridor, but is off to the side in a completely open room. Due to the possible fire load and smoke generation ability of the furniture, I’m not sure who would be comfortable approving a situation with so much upholstered furniture. There is one of these lobbies on each of the floors.

    in reply to: 99% of homes in Ontario have working smoke alarms! #2116
    Darren ZettlerDarren Zettler
    Participant

    We need a LIKE button for topics and posts.

    I LIKE the info here and the discussion.

    I find the 99% number really hard to believe just based on professional experience.

    Census information is probably full (some margin of error 🙂 of incorrect information.

    in reply to: Accelerant detectors #2034
    Darren ZettlerDarren Zettler
    Participant

    Hi Gary:

    Thanks for the info. I will definitely make a call to OFMEM. I am wondering if the investigator meant solely relying on an accelerant detector machine.

    I was thinking of using it for initial detection and then taking samples if something is discovered. Taking samples (in our municipality, in conjunction with the police) and involving the forensics guys (and the provincial Centre for Forensic Sciences) is obviously the best way to use the information as evidence. Using an accelerant detector would only be a pre-cursor to actually taking samples.

    I would not expect to rely only on information from an accelerant detector, especially if we purchase a model that does not require/involve calibration.

    in reply to: Fireworks Display Sites and Fire Extinguishers #1781
    Darren ZettlerDarren Zettler
    Participant

    Hydrostatic tests are indicated right on the extinguishers by means of a ‘sticker’ (usually foil or something that is difficult to remove). Generally no need for documents as you can read the H Test date right off the extinguisher and can also check the date on the VSC (Verification of Service Collar). Both the stickers and the VSCs are required as part of NFPA 10.

    Darren ZettlerDarren Zettler
    Participant

    I don’t see much in there about not working alone. The section on it simply says “The following high risk activities that may be required during a fire investigation should be avoided when working alone:” and goes on to talk about specific situations. Even the situations are open to interpretation. How many fire investigations don’t involve working with electricity or tagged or locked out electricity? How many don’t involve hazardous substances or materials? I think the whole fire scene is full of such substances and materials. I don’t believe this language is either strong enough nor does it suggest that you should have someone with you. It also refers to ‘allowing’ for a buddy system, but again, allowing for something is different than recommending it or requiring it.
    If I fall through a floor and my cellphone or radio lands away from me, I’m not sure how this guidance note is going to help save my life or get me prompt medical attention.
    If I am alone on a fire investigation with hazards such as holes in floors or areas with compromised building integrity then I think that only a second person on site constitutes a safe working condition. Many times our fire suppression crews are cleared when we arrive or shortly after. Climbing ladders (especially if removing plywood from windows), working in an attic with joists only or other situations, it surely makes sense to have a second person with you.

    in reply to: Section 21 Committee – Fire Prevention Officers #1550
    Darren ZettlerDarren Zettler
    Participant

    I don’t think radio contact is enough. If I have fallen through a floor and am unconscious and bleeding I don’t want to bleed out while waiting 59 minutes for dispatch to check on me. I still say we need two persons on most fire investigations and occasionally two persons on inspections (hostile people or environments).

    in reply to: Fire Alarm Activations due to Houkahs/other devices #1265
    Darren ZettlerDarren Zettler
    Participant

    I would treat this no differently than any other situation where smoke or products of combustion or dust or dirt may cause a false alarm. If a building owner is going to do welding, soldering, or even sanding of drywall I expect them to take the proper precautions. These steps would include calling the fire department, the monitoring station and bypassing the area where the work is taking place on the fire alarm panel. Bagging of detectors may be an option also. A fire watch may also need to happen while the area is bypassed.
    Smoke from a pipe or any other source, legal or not, can cause false alarms and I would treat it exactly like soldering, welding or drywall dust. The owner must take precautions to avoid the false alarm and notify all appropriate parties.
    Too many false alarms can cause building occupants to become complacent and not react to a real fire alarm, therefore we must ensure owners do whatever they can to avoid false alarms.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 18 total)