We get calls all the time, from all sorts of people (architects, engineers, building owners, property managers) asking us what is involved in ULC fire alarm monitoring in order to comply with ULC-S561. These questions can be very basic (“what is ULC fire alarm monitoring?”). They can also be more complex (“How do I make my IP-only fire alarm monitoring system ULC-S561 compliant?”). In general however, there are 6 main things that every ULC fire alarm monitoring system needs. These are those items.
A ULC-LISTED FIRE ALARM MONITORING TRANSMITTER
Every ULC fire alarm monitoring installation includes a piece of equipment (a transmitter) which has been tested to ensure it complies with the ULC fire alarm monitoring equipment standard ULC-S559. This is not the same as your fire alarm system, as we’ve detailed here. This standard makes sure that the equipment being used in any ULC fire alarm monitoring system installation can send a signal to the Signals Receiving Centre (SRC, or monitoring station) within 60 seconds and prioritizes alarms based on the type. For example, should a low battery signal and a fire alarm signal occur at the same time, the ULC fire alarm monitoring transmitter must be able to send the fire alarm information first, followed by anything else. This means that an installer cannot use “just any” piece of monitoring equipment for a ULC fire alarm monitoring system. It must be manufactured and tested in a certain way.
A CODES COMPLIANT FIRE ALARM SYSTEM OR FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEM
In order to monitor a building to meet the ULC-S561 fire alarm monitoring standard, the monitoring transmitter above must be connected to a codes compliant fire alarm system or fire sprinkler system. This means that the system is installed to the relevant standards in the fire code and building code, and is maintained according to those codes as well. These fire alarm systems and fire sprinkler systems provide our ULC fire alarm monitoring transmitter with outputs to send alarms to an SRC. Fire Alarms generally send fire alarm, fire trouble and fire supervisory alarms, and fire sprinkler systems generally send waterflow, low pressure and gate valve alarms. More info on these items is provided in this blog post, if you’re interested.
ULC FIRE ALARM MONITORING REQUIRES DEDICATED POWER
In order to issue a ULC certificate to your site, the ULC fire alarm monitoring transmitter needs its own dedicated power source. This source is generally a 120VAC power source, and is dedicated for the fire alarm monitoring transmitter only. Some jurisdictions may also require you to provide a lock on the breaker for this service, but this is not a ULC requirement. This power source should be unswitched and unburdened and separate from the fire alarm system. As well, the ULC fire alarm monitoring transmitter needs to be hardwired, so a plug-in transformer won’t do. If you have an emergency power source, such as a generator, hooking your ULC fire alarm monitoring transmitter up to this would be ideal.
A SOURCE OR SOURCES OF COMMUNICATION
A ULC fire alarm monitoring cannot transmit alarms to an SRC all by itself, it needs approved methods of communication in order to get signals to the monitoring station. Typical methods of communication can include a phone line, cellular and internet. Some more information on these types of communication are detailed in this blog post. Whether or not you need one or more forms of communication depends on if you set the ULC fire alarm monitoring system up as “active or “passive”. We’ve gone in-depth on the differences between active and passive monitoring before, in this blog post.
ULC FIRE ALARM MONITORING SYSTEMS REQUIRE INSPECTIONS
ULC fire alarm monitoring systems are required to have an annual inspection of the ULC fire alarm monitoring transmitter, testing for things such as wire conductance, battery power, transmission times and more. This ensures that the system is in proper working order and regular inspections have been shown to reduce false alarms and service calls. A ULC fire alarm monitoring system which is connected to a codes compliant fire alarm system requires one annual inspection of the monitoring transmitter, while a ULC fire sprinkler alarm monitoring system requires an annual inspection of the transmitter, plus bi-monthly inspections of the connections to the switches on the sprinkler system.
A ULC-S561 CERTIFICATE
A ULC fire alarm monitoring system is not a ULC fire alarm monitoring system unless it has a certificate issued stating compliance with ULC-S561. This ensures that the entire monitoring set-up is compliant with ULC-S561, and that includes the two items we haven’t mentioned – the installer and the SRC. Getting a ULC certificate issued to your site is the only way you can prove the your monitoring system is ULC compliant.
This should help clear up any questions you may have regarding ULC fire alarm monitoring systems installation. Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions!