The Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC) is taking a closer look at requirements in the 2010 National Building and Fire Codes of Canada that currently limit the height of wood buildings to no more than four storeys. The initiative was undertaken as a result of code change requests from the Province of British Columbia and the Canadian Wood Council asking that the current height limits for combustible construction be increased. Doing so would move the National Model Construction Codes towards harmonization with various code development initiatives and market access policies being established in jurisdictions across the country.
A joint task group encompassing several CCBFC standing committees was established in 2011, led by the Standing Committee on Fire Protection, to review current requirements and make recommendations. Four specific areas were examined: fire protection (building elements); emergency response (fire code requirements); building and plumbing services; and structural and earthquake design.
The task group determined that height and area limits for buildings constructed of combustible materials could safely be increased to six storeys by either introducing new and/or modifying various protective measures. These proposed changes would apply to residential and office-type buildings (Groups C and D occupancies, respectively, in the Codes). They would also include mixed-type occupancies where Group C and D buildings, depending on the top occupancy, may have office, residential, mercantile, assembly, low hazard or storage garage-type occupancies (Group D, C, E, A2, F2, F3 respectively) on the lower levels.