Understanding Fire Code Requirements

The primary objective of Canada’s national and provincial building codes relating to fire is to set forth minimum requirements for the design of buildings to ensure the public’s health and safety.

Whether a new construction or renovation of an existing building, the codes mandate the placement and attributes required of fire separations that, along with other fire prevention mechanisms, will mitigate the injury and property damage caused by fire.

Properly built firewalls are important in preventing spread to other buildings and in maintaining the integrity of a structure so that heat and flames do not result in collapse.  Horizontal and vertical fire barriers also serve to compartmentalize a structure, helping to contain fire and smoke to its point of origin while waiting for first responders.

Canadian Home Inspection Services has sourced a site that provides comprehensive, well-researched and current information on fire barriers.

We have found the information contained in this article complete and a useful, quick reference for adjusters, contractors, and property managers to check compliance with the fire separation and protection requirements of the building code applicable at the time of construction.

*DISCLAIMER:  It should be noted that, “while the authors have made every reasonable effort to ensure the information within is accurate, this note is nevertheless intended for educational purposes only and does not replace the need for project-specific investigative or design services by a qualified Professional Engineer.”

Detailed information can be found at this link on the following topics:

Table 1

Understanding Fire and Flame-Spread Ratings

Explanation of different types of Fire Ratings

Fire-Resistance Rating

Fire-Protection Rating

Flame Spread Rating

Table 2

Classes of major occupancy for buildings (under Part 9 of the OBC)

Fire-Resistance Ratings for structural members and assemblies

Table 3

Required Fire-Resistance Rating for fire separation between units in buildings (under Part 9 of the OBC)

Table 4

Closures Fire-Protection Ratings (reproduced from Table of the 2012 OBC)

Table 5

Fire Resistance Rating of some common assemblies (reproduced from MMAH Supplementary Standard SB-3)

Gives assembly type, description of composition and resistance rating

Table 7

Required Rating for firewalls

Table 8

Changes to minimum required Fire-Resistance Ratings in the Ontario Building Code from Edition 1975 to 2012

For residents of Ontario, see link below for province-specific guidelines for assessing existing fire separations and closures from the Office of the Fire Marshal.


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