I had a "difference of opinion" on a code issue on a recent permit
application. The plans examiner says I need a 2 hour rating around an exit,
but it's pretty clear to me that the requirement is the minimum: 45 minutes.
The structure overhead in the one story building is unrated. If the fire
suppression system fails, this thing will come down in minutes, if a
hot-enough fire is near a steel column. The code generally does not require
integrity of any part to exceed that above it or below it, IOW if the roof
is going to fall on you in 20 minutes, or the floor you're on is going to
collapse in 45, requiring a 2 hour rating on a corridor is irrational and
The section of the code stipulating the required separation was pretty
explicit: match the rating of the floor above (2 hours required), and if
there is no floor above, then match the floor below (2 hours required), in
any case, not to be less than 45 minutes. In a one story, slab on grade
building, it seemed simple: no floor above, nor any floor below, so the
minimum applies. However, this guy just kept insisting, "this is how we
interpret it". It was like reasoning with a child.
After a delay, the client says "just give him the 2 hours. I've called
around, and the other architects all say this is how it's done", perhaps
implying that I don't quite know what I'm doing. I make the changes (on my
own dime), and drive down to submit again (on my own dime), but can't resist
one last attempt to convince him (on my own dime). At one point I say to
him, "they could say what you say it says in one-quarter of the words they
used. They wrote all these words for a reason. This is a three-tiered
conditional statement. If these sentences don't say what I think they say,
then tell me when you envisage them ever having any effect." He replied that
he doesn't want to get into it because he's actually on lunch.
An hour later, *I'm*
eating lunch in a restaurant and the cell rings. He
says, "You'll be pleased to know that I've checked with..(the provincial
authority on the code)...and they agree with your interpretation. I'm going
to have to check with my superiors because applying it this way would mean a
significant deviation from the way things have been done around here."
Surprised the hell outta me. The way this guy was hiding behind his
authority, I never imagined that he'd be *curious*
enough to lift the phone,
let alone *honorable*
enough to admit that he and his entire department been
wrong for who knows how long. For me, I guess this is the sweeter half of
"You win a few, you lose a few." Unfortunately, the client has already paid
the larger price in the form of a delay in occupying his new premises,
whatever they decide to make/allow us build.
There really should be some quick arbitration procedure in this
jurisdiction. The guy behind the counter has way too much power in Ontario.
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