What Goes Into CAN/ULC-S561 Fire Monitoring?

June 21, 2022 | By: mm-admin

When speaking to customers, they often ask, “What is ULC-S561 and how can we ensure we are compliant?”.  ULC-S561 is a monitoring standard that is written by the Underwriter’s Laboratories of Canada (ULC), an internationally recognized standards body.  This standard is the point of reference in the Fire Code and Building Code for any building that is required to have its fire alarm or sprinkler monitored, and defines the following:

  • Specify the type of equipment used
  • Outline the construction of the Signals Receiving Centre (SRC)
  • Detail the physical installation of the monitoring panel on-site
  • Explain how the monitoring panel communicates with the SRC
  • Describe how the SRC handles alarms upon receipt

CAN/ULC-S561 Fire Monitoring Compliant Equipment

The CAN/ULC-S561 standard mandates that manufacturers test and produce equipment to comply with CAN/ULC-S559 standards for monitoring fire alarm systems. This requirement encompasses all equipment used at your building and the equipment used in the SRC to receive signals from your building. The standard guarantees that the equipment is appropriately constructed and possesses the capability to effectively handle fire alarm-related signals. For instance, fire monitoring panels compliant with CAN/ULC-S559 must prioritize fire alarm signals before all others and deliver that signal to the SRC within 60 seconds of activation.

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Signals Receiving Centre Construction

CAN/ULC-S561 also governs the construction of Signals Receiving Centres, ensuring that the building used is secure and efficient. This standard includes elements such as fire detection, 24/7 backup power, fire-rated doors, and controlled security access. When you choose a monitoring company with a CAN/ULC-S561 listed SRC, you ensure that they have invested in security and redundancy so that your building remains monitored at all times.

Fire Alarm Monitoring Panel Installation

The CAN/ULC-S561 standard also covers how your fire alarm monitoring panel is installed in your building to ensure its security.  Mechanically protected wiring between the fire alarm and the monitoring panel, tamper-protected cabinets, and a dedicated power source are 3 main components that must be a part of every installation.  Installations must be listed with the ULC; their installations are subject to random inspection by ULC on an annual basis.


CAN/ULC-S561 also regulates how alarms are transmitted to a Signals Receiving Centre.  This can be done through active or passive means of communication, which you can learn more about HERE.  Additionally, there are also different forms of communication that can be used to ensure you are CAN/ULC-S561 compliant, which include:

  • IP
  • Cellular
  • Phone Line

Fire Alarm Monitoring Signal Handling

The CAN/ULC-S561 standard also governs how Signals Receiving Centres handle alarms. For instance, dispatching fire alarms to a fire department must occur within 30 seconds of receipt without pre-verification. Similarly, other alarm conditions, such as trouble conditions and communication troubles, must be dispatched within 5 minutes. The ULC will audit a SRC’s execution of these alarm handling criteria, holding them accountable to their performance through an independent third party.

ULC Certificates

As you can see, there are many criteria to fulfill in order to become a ULC compliant site.  The easiest way to verify that the fire alarm monitoring on your site meets all of these criteria is to ask for a ULC certificate from your installer.  These certificates are the only physical proof that the entire process outlined above meets the ULC criteria, and most fire prevention offices only accept this certificate as proof.

Learn More

fire monitoring of canada logoIf you would like to learn more about CAN/ULC-S561 and what it takes to ensure you are compliant, or if you have questions about your current installation, please contact us at 1 888 789 FIRE (3473), email fminfo@fire-monitoring.com, or fill out the contact form below.