10 Facts you should know about
fire monitoring services


The Standard is referenced in the National Building Code and National Fire Code

The National Building Code and the National Fire Code requires that a fire signal receiving center and a fire protective signaling system at a protected property meet the requirements of CAN/ULC-S561, Installation and Services for
Fire Signal Receiving Centres and Systems.

In addition, the Standard for the installation of fire alarm systems –CAN/ULC-S524-06, Installation of Fire Alarm Systems – requires that the interconnection
between a fire alarm system control unit and a fire signal receiving center comply with the same CAN/ULCS561. These two Standards are not only separately referenced in the Code, but are integral to each other in that conformance to CAN/ULC-S561 is directly linked to CAN/ULC-S524.


The Standard covers more than signaling

In addition to signaling, the CAN/ULCS561 Standard requires that fire signal receiving centers conform to specifics such as ratings of fire separations, exiting, and other construction and safety requirements as well as operating procedures, standby/back-up systems, signal receivers, automation systems, emergency lighting and basic fire protection.


Trained staff and installation/ servicing requirements

The Standard defines the requirements for trained staff that handle operation of a fire signal receiving station. It also covers
the installation and service of a fire protective signaling system at a protected property. It should be noted that subcontracting is not permitted under
the ULC system certificate program.


Signal transmitting and receiving units must meet standards

The signal transmitting unit located at a monitored premises and signal receiving units located at a fire signal receiving center are required to comply with the requirements of CAN/ULC-S559, Equipment for Fire Signal Receiving Centres and Systems, or CAN/ULC-S527, Standard for Control Units for Fire Alarm System. Equipment and devices not Listed by a nationally accredited certification
body such as ULC do not meet the intent of the National Building Code.


Communications path systems are defined Communication can come in the form of passive or active communication.

Examples of passive systems are dual path systems and cellular back up; an example of an active system is Internet Protocol (IP). Transmitting and receiving equipment are ULC Listed to work with both types of communication channels and is tested to determine if there is telephone line supervision between a protected property and a fire signal receiving center.


Two Systems for Fire protection signaling systems

It is sometimes assumed fire protection systems apply to only monitoring fire alarms. In fact, fire protective signaling systems are categorized in two separate systems:

• Fire alarm panel monitoring

• Standalone sprinkler alarm monitoring


What constitutes a compliant system

For a system to be considered compliant, it has to include a Listed, i.e., tested and certified by a nationally accredited certification body, signal transmitting unit utilizing an approved communication path transmitting signals to a Listed fire signal receiving center. Supervision is required from the connections in a fire alarm system control unit to a fire alarm transmitter communicating on an approved communication path (passive or active) through to a Listed fire signal


Clarity on the disposition of signals

• Fire alarm signals to be transmitted to a fire signal receiving center within 60 seconds

• Fire signal receiving center personnel must contact the fire department within 30 seconds Defining the transmission time provides much more clarity for code users compared to previous requirements.


Clearly defined periodic testing

All fire protective signaling systems are required to be tested annually with records documenting the testing. These tests are required by CAN/ULC-S561 and are in addition to those required by CAN/ULC-S536, Standard for the Inspection and Testing of Fire Alarm Systems. Stand-alone sprinkler risers shall be tested bimonthly. For these systems to remain working at all times, regular maintenance and testing at a protected property is needed.


The assurance of a ULC certificate

Once the installer of the fire protective signaling system determines that fire protective signaling system has been installed in accordance with requirements of CAN/ULC-S561 the installer would then request a ULC Certificate for the protected property, ULC issues a ULC certificate and this is displayed at a fire alarm monitoring panel. The certificate states that an installation, equipment and method of communication adhere to applicable ULC Standards. This certificate is the only proof that a building is being monitored in accordance with applicable ULC Standards.


In summary, a ULC protective signaling services certificate provides a code authority the necessary evidence that a complete system complies with the CAN/ULC-S561 Standard.

*Excerpt from UL The Standard in Safety -The Fire & Security Authority 2010 Issue 2