November 02, 2013 - 11:48 AM
KELOWNA - The recent spate of balcony fires in Kelowna over the summer has raised some concerns at city council over the lack of B.C. Building Code requirements for fire protection systems on balconies and decks.
Current regulations only require sprinklers on patios of buildings that are four storeys or taller, however regulation NFPR 13R would require sprinklers systems be installed on all buildings, regardless of height.
According to Kelowna Fire Chief Jeff Carlisle, fires that start at balcony level move vertically and spread along exterior siding into the attic where current building codes also require no extinguishing system.
Fire Chief Carlisle thinks that should change.
So far the province has not been in support of municipal changes to the building code. City of Kelowna staff experienced this firsthand when the fire department’s 2012 draft bylaw amendment to require sprinklers on balconies for buildings outside the department’s response time was denied.
In the latest reply, dated Oct. 1, the provincial manager of building policy and codes development Christine Webb informed the city that the Safety Standard Branch has prioritized the City of Kelowna’s request and that her office is working with the national counterpart to adapt a new fire protection standard.
This change will first address the issue of balcony fire protection in new construction before shifting focus to existing wood frame, multifamily residential buildings with fewer than four stories.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013