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Ontario Building Code requires visual fire alarms

The 2012 Ontario Building Code came into force on January 1, 2014. Changes are being phased in over coming years, but anyone qualifying as a building practitioner for the first time or in a new category will be examined on the 2012 code.


The 2012 Ontario Building Code came into force on January 1, 2014. Changes are being phased in over coming years, but anyone qualifying as a building practitioner for the first time or in a new category will be examined on the 2012 code.

And on December 27, 2013 the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, which administers the Ontario Building Code, announced that amendments to the 2012 code had been filed requiring new accessibility and safety provisions. Filed as Ontario Regulation 368/13, the provisions will come into force on January 1, 2015 and will apply to most new construction and extensive renovations, but not to existing buildings.

The Ministry says that the new accessibility rules “will make Ontario a North America leader in barrier-free design.” For example, the new code requires that all smoke alarms in buildings, including houses, must have a visual component such as flashing lights. The visual fire alarms have to be installed in all public corridors of multi-unit residential buildings and suites. Integrated sprinkler and fire alarm systems are now required in multi-unit residential buildings in Ontario.

An elevator or other barrier free access means must be provided between storeys in most buildings (with some exceptions for small residential and commercial buildings). Power door operators have to be provided at the entrances to a wider range of buildings and at the entrances to barrier-free washrooms and common rooms in multi-unit buildings. There will also have to be barrier-free access to public pools and spas.

New energy efficiency measures that are also part of the 2012 code and will come into force on January 1, 2015. Under the new code, houses built in 2017 will have to consume 50% less energy than homes built to code before 2006.

Sewage back-water valves are required in residential buildings, window screens are no longer considered an acceptable fall protection device, and the acceptable radon thresholds have been lowered to reflect the national code. Changes to on-site sewage systems in the code come into force on December 31, 2016.

The Ministry also says it will soon launch a user-friendly e-version of the Building Code that can be used on smart phones and notepads.

The 2012 Code was revised partly to harmonize the provincial requirements with the National Building Code, but also to limit the extent to which construction strains infrastructure capacity, e.g. the electric grid, to limit green house gas emissions, limit the release of pollutants, and protect water and soil quality.

The first examination for building practitioners in the 2012 code is scheduled for January 23 this year.

Click here see an overview of the 2012 code changes.

Click here to see the 2012 Ontario Building Code.


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1 Comment » for Ontario Building Code requires visual fire alarms
  1. James Hardman says:

    Recently installed brk strobe smoke detectors throughout the house, as required by code.
    Big issue I have with these units is, during a power outage the visual signaling device (strobe) will not function.
    Back up battery is for the smoke detection portion. The battery is not large enough to power stobe light according to brk/ first alert manufacturer.
    According the the manufacturer, they where unaware of this issue, because not code in US and new product, and they haven’t gotten much feed back on product.

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