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Smoke Tightness of Closures - Anatomy of a Building Code Change and Summary of Findings from the Task Group

A simple change proposed to the National Building Code of Canada led to a review of fundamental concepts meant to ensure fire protection and life safety.  The task group on smoke tightness of closures found the Code was subject to wide ranging interpretations because the intents were unclear.

The Code was unclear whether a fire separation should act as a barrier to smoke.  It was possible that in a fire, a door that was held open would be required to close upon smoke in the vicinity, yet a large air transfer opening immediately adjacent the door was allowed to remain open, allowing combustion gases to pass through until the heat-activated fire damper closes.  Some designers, and authorities having jurisdiction recognize only the literal wording in the Code; others however base their design and enforcement on the perceived intent and hence require the air-transfer opening to be closed at the same time as the door. 

A suite of code changes underwent public review, and finally incorporated into the 2015 NBC.  Of significance are the change of definition of “fire separation”, and the introduction of new code requirements for smoke tightness utilizing available technology such as smoke dampers.

This presentation outlines the process of updating the Canadian National Building Code to clarify the intent of smoke tightness at closures, resolving a long-standing problem of inconsistent application of the National Building Code.

The discussion will touch on how fire and life safety considerations were applied to successfully steer a contentious building code change from initial proposal to publication and in the end provide clarity to the intent.

Date: June 15, 2021
Time: 12:00PM (Pacific time) (TBC)
Location: On-line (MS Teams)
Cost: No charge
Registration Deadline: End of day June 11, 2021 (Late registrations may not receive the invite to join the meeting. Please register on time.)

Rick Cheung is a Professional Engineer, and a Certified Professional.  He has been actively involved in the development of both the building and fire codes for many years.  Rick is, and has been, an instructor for the BC Building Code Part 3 course at BCIT since 2005.    He’s been an active member of the National Building and Fire Codes Standing Committee on Fire Protection since 2006.

An Assistant Chief in the Community Safety Division of Vancouver’s Fire Department, Rick is responsible for development of the Vancouver Fire By-law, the UBC and UEL fire prevention office, and Public Education.

For several years, Rick was a Building Code Specialist with the City of Vancouver Building Department where he also helped develop the Vancouver Building By-law.  

Rick began his career in the private sector where he became an experienced fire sprinkler designer and building code consultant, before being appointed as the City of Surrey’s Fire Protection Engineer.

Start date: 
Tuesday, June 15, 2021 - 12:00

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