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Cement Association of Canada challenges changes to building codes

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World Cement,

The Cement Association of Canada is set against a change in the National Building Code of Canada that would increase the maximum height of wood buildings to six storeys from four, claiming it will increase fire risks.

Michael McSweeney, CEO of the Cement Association of Canada, has said this is not a market share issue, but a safety issue, suggesting that the taller wooden buildings will present new challenges for fire fighters. The Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes is conducting a review of potential changes to the Building Code, which is a ‘model’ guideline that provinces and municipalities can adopt in whole or in part.

Speaking about the safety issue, Mr McSweeney pointed out that construction has moved away from building with wood because of the fire risk, adding “(i)t looks like we're taking a regressive step”. In addition to fighting changes to the height of wooden buildings, Mr McSweeney also wants to see the Building Code updated to make it mandatory for stairwells and elevator shafts to be constructed of non-combustible materials. This, he argues, would give firefighters more of a platform to work on. Additionally, non-combustible cladding and roofing are recommended to prevent fire spreading to adjacent buildings.

At a press conference, Mr McSweeney said: “Any building should be built once, built right and built to last. Building codes are minimum codes and surely Canadians deserve more than this.” Carl Pearson, a First Captain with the Thorold Fire and Emergency Services and the Past President of the Fire Fighters’ Association of Ontario, added: “If these proposed changes to the NBCC are implemented, Canadians’ lives could be at risk. We don’t want that to happen”.

Edited from various sources by

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