The Fire Code and the Building Code are two important documents that determine what types of buildings are required to have fire alarm monitoring. Common examples of these buildings include (but are not limited to):
- Care facilities and hospitals
- Schools and daycares
- High-rise buildings
- Any building where there is a sprinkler system
CAN/ULC-S561 is the standard for fire alarm monitoring, and in order to prove that your monitoring company has installed and is monitoring your system to this standard, they must be able to produce a ULC Certificate. This ULC certificate is the only physical proof that the monitoring installation and service at your facility adheres to this standard.
What is a ULC Certification?
Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC) has established a standard that alarm companies must adhere to in order to be listed by them for fire alarm monitoring. This standard provides guidance and requirements for power supplies, response times, staffing, security levels, and much more.
What Does a ULC Certification Provide?
A ULC Certification provides proof to Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) and insurance companies that your monitoring system has been installed, tested, and is being maintained to the highest standard.
Once a monitoring company is certified, the ULC lists them to demonstrate their compliance with ULC standards. It is only once a monitoring company completes their evaluation process that they will be capable of issuing ULC certificates. The certificates are generally issued when mandated by a requesting body to ensure compliance to National Standards.
Although most fire departments have embraced and recognize the CAN/ULC-S561 fire alarm monitoring standard, you may still find monitoring providers who do not (or cannot) satisfy the requirements of this standard. As a customer, it is strongly recommended that you ask for a ULC certificate as part of your fire alarm monitoring system.
- A ULC Certification confirms that the installation receives an annual inspection by a certified technician, and is subject to further investigation by ULC auditors who will ensure that the inspected system is ULC compliant.
- The monitoring provider commits to following designated alarm response protocols, and they may be subject to penalty if they fail to uphold these standards.
- May improve insurance benefits and reduce premiums.
- It increases customer/tenant/board/investor confidence. ULC certification indicates that the installation is inspected, tested, and maintained by the Listed alarm service company.
Impact on Response Time
In the early 2000s, Leber and Rubes conducted an independent study, which discovered that it took an average of two minutes for a fire alarm signal to be delivered to the fire department from a monitoring company. The CAN/ULC-S561 standard requires a maximum delivery time of 30 seconds, an incredible improvement from the reported two-minute average. Time is critical when it comes to fighting a fire, which is documented to double in size every minute after the first four minutes.