Fire Alarm Monitoring Requirements for Care Facilities & Nursing Homes

June 21, 2022 | By: mm-admin

Care facilities and nursing homes have unique fire alarm and monitoring requirements due to the nature of the activities and equipment that exists within their facilities.  Because of this, it’s important to ensure that you’re operating within code by installing and maintaining the correct fire, security, life safety, and communication systems.

What is Required?

New fire and life safety requirements for care facilities and nursing homes came into effect in 2014.  These requirements vary significantly based on the type, size, and use of the facility, as well as the existing systems that may be in place.

As part of these changes, the Ontario Fire Marshal announced that all care facilities and nursing homes must obtain a sprinkler system within five years.   At the time, it was mandated that these facilities have fire alarm monitoring in place by January 1, 2015.

Specifically, the Ontario Building Code states: Signals to Fire Department

  1. If a fire alarm system is required to be installed and a single stage system is provided, the system shall be designed to notify the fire department in conformance with Sentence (4) that an alarm signal has been initiated in:
    1. A Group A occupancy having an occupant load more than 300,
    2. A Group B occupancy,
    3. A Group F, Division 1 occupancy,
    4. A building regulated by the provisions of Subsection 3.2.6.,
    5. A building containing interconnected floor space required to conform to Articles to or
    6. A retirement home.
  2. A fire alarm system that includes waterflow indicating devices shall be designed to notify the fire department, in conformance with Sentence (4), that an alarm has been initiated.
  3. If a fire alarm system is required to be installed and a two stage system is provided, the system shall be designed to notify the fire department, in conformance with Sentence (4), that an alert signal has been initiated.
  4. Notification of the fire department required by Sentences (1) to (3) shall be by way of,
    1. Signals to a central station conforming to CAN/ULC-S561, “Installation and Services for Fire Signal Receiving Centres and Systems”, or
    2. The municipal fire alarm system.
  5. Where a single stage fire alarm system is installed in a building that is not sprinklered, and Sentence (1) does not apply, a legible notice, that is not easily removed, shall be affixed to the wall near each manual pull station stating,
    1. That the fire department is to be notified in the event of a fire emergency, and
    2. The emergency telephone number for the municipality or the telephone number of the fire department.

Building Occupancy Types

Group Division Description of Major Occupancies
A 1 Assembly occupancies intended for the production of the performing arts.
A 2 Assembly occupancies not elsewhere classified in Group A
A 3 Assembly occupancies of the arena type
A 4 Assembly occupancies in which occupants are gathered in the open air
B 1 Detention occupancies
B 2 Care and treatment occupancies
B 3 Care occupancies
C Residential occupancies
D Business and personal services occupancies
E Mercantile occupancies
F 1 High hazard industrial occupancies
F 2 Medium hazard industrial occupancies
F 3 Low hazard industrial occupancies


If you are unsure about what type of occupancy your building is, please contact your local building department or fire department.

What Does This Mean for Care Facilities and Nursing Homes?

This means that if your building falls into the applicable categories, you are required to have your fire alarm system or sprinkler system monitored to the CAN/ULC-S561 standard.

If you already have a monitoring panel installed, you may require an upgrade, and a ULC Certificate issued.  A ULC certificate is important to have because it constitutes physical proof to Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) and insurance companies that your system has been thoroughly tested, and is being maintained to the highest standard.  Learn more about why a ULC Certification matters in the article below.

why a ulc certification matters header image

 Learn More

fire monitoring of canada logoAt Fire Monitoring of Canada, we firmly believe the fire alarm monitoring is a valuable life safety service, and accepting anything less than a CAN/ULC-S561 certified fire alarm monitoring system leaves you vulnerable.

If you operate a care facility or nursing home and you have questions about your requirements, please contact us at 1 888 789 FIRE (3473), email, or fill out the contact form below.