Amendments, Errata and REvisions 

Amendments, Errata and Revisions: Important Updates for Fire Protection and Life Safety Professionals

Originally posted on January 18, 2021 at

Building Code

Have you ever applied the wrong edition of a standard? Or referenced an incorrect requirement because you missed an amendment? Or done work in a jurisdiction and didn’t account for a local amendment? 

It’s easy to do and even some of the most experienced people in our profession have likely done it. Did you know that the 2015 Edition of the Canadian National Model Codes (Model Codes) were revised in 2018? Not only were there technical revisions but the referenced documents were updated. These revisions affect not only the typical code users such as building/fire code officials, architects, engineers, and interior designers but also the fire protection and life safety system installers and inspection, testing and maintenance (ITM) contractors. If your line of business interacts with the codes and standards you need to keep up to date with the Model Code revisions, but also provincial amendments and municipal bylaws.

If your line of business interacts with the codes and standards you need to keep up to date with the Model Code revisions, but also provincial amendments and municipal bylaws.

Amendments, errata, revisions … what does it all mean? I’m sure there are a bunch of legal definitions for each of the terms. But, in my opinion, the legalese doesn’t matter. What is important is that these terms indicate something was changed in the Code. 

Canadian National Model Codes

The National Building Code and Fire Code of Canada (NBC & NFC) are produced through the National Research Council of Canada. Each province has some enabling legislation in which the Model Codes are adopted. When the provinces adopt the Model Codes, they amend them to suit their needs. Keep in mind that each province may adopt the Model Codes at different times as well. 

In 2018 a “Revisions and Errata Package” was released for both the NBC and NFC. Both packages contained “revisions, errata and editorial modifications that apply to the National Building/Fire Code of Canada 2015

Each package contained a Change Summary table, as well as the specific changes that were made to each Code. The Change Summary table is handy. It provides the Division, Code Reference and Description of Change. After the Change Summary Table are printable pages to replace pages in your printed edition. Note if you are in the digital world you can download the 2nd printing from NRC Store here

Which Printing do I Have? 

If you’re not sure if you have the First Printing or Second Printing (i.e., with all of the revisions, errata and editorial updates/changes), look on the back side of the first page (of the printed edition) or on the second page of the digital version. On the lower half of the page, you will see the “First Printing” or “Second Printing” under “Printed in Canada”.

It is important to note that not only were there changes to some of the technical provisions, which I think many of us pay attention to, there were also changes to Table Documents Referenced of Division B. 

Here are a couple of examples of referenced document revisions that are applicable to those of us in the fire protection and life safety industry. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

Table identifying changes to referenced standards

If you need the latest Revisions and Errata package from NRC, it is found here. The revision package states, “Code users should contact their local authority having jurisdiction to find out if these revisions and errata apply in their province or territory.” It is important that you are applying the correct edition of the code, as there may be important changes that are applicable to your business, your projects, and your clients. 

Saskatchewan amendments to referenced standards

Provincial Amendments

It is also important to note that while some provinces print their own edition of the Building and Fire Codes, others do not. However, that doesn’t mean that these provinces don’t have provincial amendments. You need to check the specific province for their revisions. For example, Alberta’s Codes are available from the NRC Store in a consolidated single document (print or digital), while Ontario’s Codes are available for order in hardcopy or free online in a consolidated single document, and Saskatchewan’s amendments are available online as a separate standalone document. 

As noted, Saskatchewan does not produce a separate consolidated single document of the Model Codes complete with Saskatchewan amendments. As such, if the Code user is not aware of the provincial amendments, they may be applying the wrong requirements.  

It is important to check the provincial amendments for technical changes and revisions. Failure to do so may lead to delays in your project and potentially non-compliant designs. 

The Provincial Amendments may include changes to any of the requirements. For example, a new definition was introduced in Saskatchewan, Alternative Family Care Home (AFCH). These homes have specific requirements based on the number of occupants in care and the ability of the occupants to “self-preserve”. Another example is the 2018 Edition of the British Columbia Building Code which contains provisions for Encapsulated Mass Timber Construction, that are not included in the 2015 Model Codes. 

In addition to changes in technical requirements, amendments may also update Table of Division B. I put an asterisk note under the previous table. While the Model Codes reference the 2012 edition of the Canadian Electrical Code, the Saskatchewan Amendments reference the 2018 Edition as noted. There are also a couple of other updated standards. 

It is important to check the provincial amendments for technical changes and revisions. Failure to do so may lead to delays in your project and potentially non-compliant designs. Here is a list of the applicable codes for each province and territory. 

Municipal Bylaws

To make things more complicated municipalities may also have specific requirements. These requirements are made through bylaws. Some municipalities have extensive bylaw requirements, such as Vancouver, while others may have very few. It is important for an architect, engineer, ITM contractor or fire protection system installer to check into the municipal bylaws as well. 

As a father of two that was fortunate enough to take parental leave with both kids, the one addition to the Regina Building Bylaw that I really appreciate is the inclusion of infant change facilities to men’s washrooms. While this is minor in the grand scheme of things, there are local requirements that need to be addressed. But in relation to fire and life safety, some municipalities in Saskatchewan require specific fire protection and life safety contractors to obtain a license. These requirements are outlined in their fire bylaw.   

The Latest and Greatest 

Sometimes a version of a standard may be available but not referenced in the applicable Code. What do we do then? I’ve seen some people apply the latest edition of a standard regardless of the fact that it is not the referenced edition. If you opt for this approach you need to speak with the AHJ as this may require an alternative solution. By choosing a standard that is not specifically referenced you may encounter incompatibilities or inconsistencies between the requirements of the codes and standards. 

The 2020 editions of the Model Codes were slated for release in early 2021. That has changed. As of January 2021, the Codes Canada website indicates that “the 2020 editions of the national model codes are now anticipated to be published in December 2021. The more important point is, when will they be adopted and with what amendments?