Canadian Consulting Engineer

News (May 01, 2003)

May 1, 2003
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

SPECIFICATIONSBig changes to MasterFormatThe final draft of the new MasterFormat was presented at the Construction Specifications Institute conference in Chicago in mid-April.A CSI team has been worki...


Big changes to MasterFormat

The final draft of the new MasterFormat was presented at the Construction Specifications Institute conference in Chicago in mid-April.

A CSI team has been working for three years on completely reorganizing the Masterformat system. Over 40 years it has become the main tool building designers have used to organize construction specifications and documents.

The CSI team has consulted with over 500 organizations in the architectural, engineering and construction industry. Their guiding principals are to make the format more acceptable to building engineers. They are also expanding it to cover civil engineering more thoroughly.

The latest and final version — Draft 4 — has reverted to a more familiar format than the previous draft which had caused a lot of unease in the industry because its proposed changes were so extreme.

The new version will have all the current MasterFormat’s basic structure for the traditional architectural divisions. However, there are still big differences in the latest version. For example, the revamped format will use a six-digit numbering system rather than the existing five-digit system. This gives it much greater scope for future expansion.

The new format will have separate divisions 29-29 for mechanical systems, for fire suppression, electrical communications, safety and security and integrated systems.

It also has new divisions 30-39 for heavy civil construction, including utilities, transportation and waterways. It has set aside divisions 40-49 for process engineering.

The new draft will be posted for feedback throughout the fall, and the new document is scheduled to be published during the summer of 2004.


Firewalls best for escape routes

The National Concrete Masonry Association in the U.S. is objecting to a two-tier testing system allowed under ASTM E-119 Standard Methods of Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials. The association sponsored tests at an independent laboratory in which a 10′ x 10′ steel stud and gypsum board shaft wall was constructed. The wall assembly disintegrated when a hose was applied to it after it had been exposed to fire for two hours. However, the back-up test that manufacturers are allowed to use subjects the assembly to fire for only one hour.

In a press release, Mark B. Hogan, president of the Concrete Masonry Association, says “These tests dramatically show the difference in the integrity provided by concrete masonry walls in comparison to walls made of gypsum materials. Unfortunately, both the public and building designers are left unaware of this stark difference since both types of walls receive the same rating.” The release suggested that in the aftermath of the World Trade Center disaster it’s become clear that firewalls with concrete masonry are needed to protect escaping occupants and firefighters.

Clearing smoke from high-rises

Tests to see whether positive pressure ventilation (PPV) is an effective firefighting tool in high-rise residential buildings have found mixed results. PPV units are used to clear access to exits and to vent smoke for firefighting and during post-fire salvage. Carried out for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the Ottawa Fire Department, the National Research Council and others, the tests used a variety of commercially available portable PPV fan sets in a 19-storey fire-test facility. The research indicated that though the units improved access conditions on the fire floor they can provide increased combustion air to the fire so should be used with caution. See CMHC Research Highlights, Technical Series 02-133, October, 2002.

Objective-based codes on way

This spring, the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes invited users to test drive and comment on the proposed new objective-based building and fire code of Canada. The national code is due out in 2005.

Similar invitations were issued in Ontario and British Columbia, two provinces that are introducing objective-based versions of their own building and fire codes. In Ontario, codes fall under the authority of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. In B.C. they are under the Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services.

Nightclub fires prompt NFPA review

After more than 100 people died in two separate nightclub fires in the U.S. early this year, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) began an immediate review of standards for public assembly buildings. On February 17, 21 patrons were killed trying to escape a burning building in Chicago. Three days later 97 people died in a nightclub in Rhode Island.

NFPA’s technical committee met in March and initiated interim amendments to the NFPA Life Safety code that eliminate the use of general seating unless certain conditions are met and increase the use of automatic sprinklers. The committee is also considering interior finishes, exiting, and the retroactive application of code requirements.


Pearson Airport begins testing critical systems

As the opening of the massive $3.3 billion new terminal complex at Toronto Pearson International Airport grows close, steps are under way to ensure that all the life safety and other systems are in place and in good working order.

Members of the Canadian Fire Safety Association who met at the Airport Emergency Support Centre on March 19 heard from Paul Ritchi, senior manager in charge of activating the new facilities for the Greater Toronto Airport Authority. He indicated that the months ahead will be the real testing time. A series of trials will be held between June until September 15, a few weeks before the new terminal opens in October. Ritchi said they are using 700 volunteers — not staff, “they know too many shortcuts” — to do the trials.

How complex a job it is to coordinate such a large project with so many different components was shown when Ritchi held up a binder listing an astonishing 774 acronyms used at the GTAA. “Part of my task is to make sure everyone knows what the acronyms mean,” he said.

The new Terminal 1 has a gross floor area of 82 acres and over 250 check-in counters in the main departure hall. The parking garage will eventually be the largest in North America with 12,500 spaces.

Baggage handling has 15 kilometres of conveyors, designed to handle 18,000 bags an hour — all of which will have to be screened for explosives. As Ritchi explained, in a post-September 11 world, airports are a high profile location where security is critical. Every bag has to be matched to a passenger and suspicious items will be scanned in five different ways, using everything from MRI-type equipment to sniffer dogs.

New infield structures such as new cargo buildings, hangars and a holdroom terminal are already open. A tunnel almost half a kilometre long has also been built to take traffic out to the infield facilities. It consists of two “cells” so that in case of a fire or emergency, people can escape through fire doors into the other cell.

The new road system is extensive, with 84 kilometres of single lane roadway. Much of the new road is elevated, and it includes 64 bridges. During the question and answer period, CFSA members asked whether having so many elevated roads could hinder emergency operations and cause icing hazards.

Many international and local consulting engineering firms are involved in the project. They include Ove Arup, Yolles, Mitchell Partnership, Smith & Anderson, Mulvey & Banani, Hatch Mott MacDonald, Trow and UMA/Holmes & Narver. Marshall Macklin Monaghan, Giffels and Parsons International are joint project management consultants responsible for coordinating and overseeing much of the new terminal work. Leber Rubes and Locke MacKinnon Domingo Gibson are fire protection consultants.


Morden Yolles, P.Eng. and Kari Valli, P.Eng. of Yolles were structural engineers for the suicide barrier recently completed along the Bloor Street Viaduct in Toronto. Before the barrier was constructed, someone would leap o
ff the historic bridge down onto the Don Valley highway below at the average rate of one every 22 days. The controversial $5.6 million barrier is an award-winning design by architecture professor Derek Revington. It is called the “Luminous Veil” and consists of two elements. The outer masts lean and are tied into a series of I-beams under the bridge. Inside is a layer of vertical stainless steel strands strung about five inches apart.


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