Commercial Fire Separations
Fire separations are required to protect occupants of a building, allowing them adequate time to evacuate a building to a place of safety. Fire separations are typically found in stairwells and places of egress (exits).
Another use of Fire Separations is to separate different Occupancies in a building. This ensures that the use of one tenant will not affect the safety of neighbouring tenants or anywhere in the building.
The Ontario Fire Code states that when a building contains more than one Major Occupancy, such Occupancies shall be separated from each other in accordance with the Ontario Building Code requirements.
There are specific rules for maintaining Fire Separations and also prescribed methods of penetrating a fire separation, whether for plumbing, electrical, heating or communications. Unfortunately many tradespersons are unaware of these requirements and routinely damage or compromise fire separations.
Heating systems may have Fire Dampers, which are required by the Ontario Fire Code to be inspected at prescribed intervals, many building owners have never had their dampers inspected and many may be defective. Fire Stopping is another required protection which is an integral part of the Fire Separation, its purpose is to seal any penetrations of the Fire Separation to prevent the passage of smoke, heat or flame.
Doors, Windows and Frames in a Fire Separation are required to be rated. Most fire rated doors are also required to be fitted with an automatic closing device which will close door and latch when released. Some larger buildings with a lot of traffic will have door closures which are operated in conjunction with the fire alarm system.
Any part of the Fire Separation unit or assembly is required to be installed in accordance with the manufactures specifications and no modifications are allowed to unit unless permitted in writing from manufacture or a rated testing agency such as ULC or Warnock Hersey.
Purchasing a Commercial Building with any significant damage to Fire Separations can lead to an unforeseen expense. Any work required to repair Fire Separations is required to be performed by qualified tradespersons who are trained specifically on proper methods of Fire Stopping, Fire Damper Inspection, Closure Repairs or damage to Fire Separation assemblies.
Many local Fire Departments do not have the manpower to inspect individual buildings for deficiencies in the Ontario Fire Code and many buildings may fall into a state of disrepair regarding Life Safety etc. Once the Fire Department is aware of any deficiencies in Life Safety Equipment they are obligated to ensure that building is brought up to an acceptable standard. Failure to comply can result in fines to the owner.