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Providing Emergency Access to a New Laneway Suite.

The Ontario Building Code (OBC) requires that laneway suites have acceptable emergency access. This is critical to saving lives in the event of an emergency. Toronto Fire Service must be able to access every building in the city with firefighting and other emergency equipment.

 

  • Fire department access shall be provided to each building by means of a street, private roadway or yard.
  • Where access to a building as required above is provided by means of a roadway or yard, the design and location of such roadway or yard shall take into account connection with public thoroughfares, weight of firefighting equipment, width of roadway, radius of curves, overhead clearance, location of fire hydrants, location of fire departments connections and vehicular parking.

See OBC Div. B. 9.10.20.3 for reference.

  • A minimum of 0.9 metres wide by 2.1 metres high
    • Either on your own property or via a Limited Distance Agreement with your neighbour (hyperlink below)
  • Hydro and gas meters and other similar localized protrusions are allowed to project into this required 0.9 m path of travel width.

 

  • A maximum of 45 metres in length measured from the public street to the entry of the laneway suite,
  • A maximum of 90 metres in length measured from the public street or a flanking street through the laneway to the entry of the laneway suite along with at least one additional fire-safety measure, acceptable to the City of Toronto (see below- hyperlink in web).
  • A fire hydrant must also be located within 45 metres of where a firefighting vehicle would park in front of the subject property or at the intersection of a flanking street and the laneway.

A pair of sketches are available showing the laneway suite fire access travel distances (opens in new window) on a sample site plan.

 

There are two options for fire-safety measures developed by the City of Toronto that designers may incorporate within their Laneway Suite designs to allow the maximum travel distance to increase from 45 m to 90 m:

Option 1: Automatic sprinkler; exterior strobe light and smoke alarms/warning system

Option 2: Increased fire protection materials and building methods; exterior strobe light; and smoke alarms/warning system.

Projects Must Include:

Automatic sprinkler

  • Incorporate within the building an automatic sprinkler system designed to NFPA 13, 13R or 13D standards
  • Design of the automatic sprinkler system to be prepared by a Professional Engineer.

Exterior strobe light

  • Must have a strobe light on the exterior side of the building facing the laneway.
  • Must conform to CAN/ULC-S540, “Residential Fire and Life Safety Warning Systems: Installation, Inspection, Testing and Maintenance”
  • Must comply with CAN/ULC-S526, “Visible Signal Devices for Fire Alarm Systems, Including Accessories”.
  • Must be rated for exterior use and activated by the interconnected smoke alarms/warning system located within the laneway suite.
  • The strobe is to be located at a minimum height of 1.8 m above the adjacent ground level and be visible from the laneway with consideration of obstructions such as trees and fencing.

Smoke alarms/warning system

  • Must have a residential fire warning system that is inspected, tested and maintained in accordance with CAN/ULCS540 and the applicable provision in the Ontario Fire Code (OFC).
  • Design of the warning system shall be prepared by a professional engineer.

Increased fire protection materials and building methods

Designs must incorporate within the building increased fire protection on the exterior walls, reduce the required openings on the exterior walls and clad exterior building faces with non-combustible materials under certain conditions.

  • Where available limiting distances are not less than 2.4 m:
    • the area of glazed openings in the exposing building face shall conform to Article 9.10.15.4 of Division B of the Building Code considering the available limiting distance as halved.
  • Additionally, where the limiting distance is less than 2.4 m,
    • No unprotected openings are permitted,
    • the exposing building face will require a fire-resistance rating of not less than ¾-hour, AND
    • Where the available limiting distance is less than 1.2 m:
      • the exposing building face is required to be clad with non-combustible cladding.

Exterior strobe light

Must have a strobe light on the exterior side of the building facing the laneway:

  • Must conform to CAN/ULC-S540, “Residential Fire and Life Safety Warning Systems: Installation, Inspection, Testing and Maintenance”
  • Must comply with CAN/ULC-S526, “Visible Signal Devices for Fire Alarm Systems, Including Accessories”.
  • The strobe is to be rated for exterior use and activated by the interconnected smoke alarms located within the laneway suite.
  • The strobe is to be located at a minimum height of 1.8 m above the adjacent ground level and be visible from the laneway with consideration of obstructions such as trees and fencing.

Smoke alarms/warning system

  • Must have a residential fire warning system that is inspected, tested and maintained in accordance with CAN/ULCS540 and the applicable provision in the Ontario Fire Code (OFC).
  • Design of the warning system shall be prepared by a professional engineer

The City of Toronto is in the process of developing detailed guidelines to assist with incorporating one of the solutions into Laneway Suite design. In the meantime, staff are available to discuss these options. For questions on current applications please contact:

Selva Panchanatham, P.Eng.
Manager, Plan Review
Toronto Building, City Hall, Floor 16E
Toronto & East York District,
City of Toronto
416-392-7627
Selva.Panchanatham@toronto.ca

In cases where it is not possible to provide the minimum 0.9 metre wide path of travel for fire department access, this required width may be shared with a neighbouring property, provided both owners enter into a Limiting Distance Agreement.

The Solution: Establish Shared Access through a Limiting Distance Agreement.

  • Execute a Limiting Distance Agreement for fire access that provides 0.9 m of access
    • The agreement is an obligation that cannot be broken without all parties consent (includes The City)
  1.  Download this template agreement that has been prepared by the City of Toronto. [LDA Fire Access Template].  The template gives prompts for where the relevant property details are to be entered.
  2. An owner of property will likely want to retain a lawyer to assist them with the following:
    1. Filling out the template agreement with the relevant property details;
    2. Providing the property owner with any necessary legal advice in relation to the agreement;
    3. Registering the agreement on title of the property once it has been signed; and,
    4. Preparing and submitting the required title opinion.
      It is highly recommended that property owners refer their lawyers to this webpage and these instructions.
  3. Establish communication and coordinate with the adjoining owner of land. It is likely best to give the adjoining owner of land a link to this webpage and these instructions.
  4. Fill out the template agreement with the relevant property details. Have a sketch prepared for schedule C of the agreement. Here is an example of an acceptable sketch with notes about key features of the sketch: (sample for reference only) 
  5. Once the template agreement has been filled out (changes must be tracked), submit it to one of the following Toronto Building contacts:
    1. Daniella Lettieri-Crognale, Building Consultant, North York Civic Centre, 5100 Yonge Street, 1st floor, Phone:416-395-7167, Email: Daniella.Lettieri-Crognale@toronto.ca, City of Toronto, Toronto Building
    2. Nathan Wood, Building Consultant, City Hall, 1st floor, 100 Queen St. W. Phone: 416-392-7575, Email: nathan.wood@toronto.ca, City of Toronto, Toronto Building
    3. Marseel Shehata, Building Consultant, 2 Civic Centre Court, 1st floor, Phone: 416-394-8024, Email: marseel.shehata@toronto.ca, City of Toronto, Toronto Building
      Toronto Building will forward the filled out template agreement [ensure sketch at Schedule C is included] to the City’s Legal Services Division for review by a City Lawyer.
  6. Assuming the agreement is in a form that is satisfactory to the Deputy Chief Building Official, the City Lawyer will advise that the agreement can be executed by the non-City parties. An invoice will also be provided to the property owners for the City’s fees related to the limiting distance agreement. *Pursuant to Chapter 441 of the Municipal Code there is a Solicitor Fee for the time spent by the City’s Legal Services division. The fee is $251.36/hour. A typical limiting distance agreement will require between one and four hours of time spent by the City’s lawyers.
  7. Property owners sign the agreement and submit it to the City to the attention of the City Lawyer along with the required fees pursuant to the invoice provided. The agreement can be sent by email.
  8. The City will execute the agreement and return it to the property owners. It will generally be sent to the attention of the lawyer that the property owners have retained to register the agreement on title.
  9. Property owners submit to the City, to the attention of the City Lawyer, the title opinions required by the agreement. A template opinion letter is provided here for the property owners’ lawyers’ consideration. [LDA Opinion Letter Template]