Why a CAN/ULC-S561 Certification Matters

June 21, 2022 | By: mm-admin

aMany types of buildings require fire alarm monitoring based on the existing Fire Code and Building Code.  Examples of these types of buildings include care facilities and hospitals, schools and day cares, high-rise buildings, and buildings where a sprinkler system is present.

The standard for fire alarm monitoring is CAN/ULC-S561. To ensure your system meets this standard, you should receive a certificate from the monitoring company to attest to the proper installation and monitoring of your system. The ULC certificate is the only physical proof that the monitoring on your premises conforms 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 specific guidelines and requirements for power supplies, response times, staffing and security levels, and much more.

Why Should You Have It?

A ULC Certification is important because it provides physical proof to Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) and insurance companies that your system has undergone thorough testing and is being maintained to the highest standard.


  • ULC certification indicates that a certified technician inspects the installation annually. ULC auditors are subject it to further investigation to ensure compliance with the inspected systems.
  • Fire monitoring provider commits to specific alarm response protocol, and they are subject to penalty for failure to achieve these standards.
  • It may improve insurance benefits and reduce costs. Premiums may be lower, depending on the insurance provider.
  • It increases customer/tenant/board/investor confidence. The Listed alarm service company inspects, tests, and maintains the installation, as indicated by ULC certification.

Even though most fire departments widely recognize and embrace the CAN/ULC-S561 fire alarm monitoring standard, some monitoring providers still do not (or cannot) satisfy the requirements of this standard. As a customer, you need to ensure that you ask for a ULC certificate as part of your fire alarm monitoring system.  It is the only way to ensure that your provider performs to the level set out by the Fire Code.

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What Do The Certifications Do?

The CAN/ULC-S561 certification provides AHJs, insurance companies, and Municipalities/Government with a to identify code complying fire alarm monitoring systems.

Once certified, the ULC lists fire alarm monitoring companies to demonstrate their compliance with ULC standards.  Once a company goes through this evaluation process, they are then capable of issuing certificates within their listing category.  To ensure compliance to National Standars, these certificates are generally issued when mandated by a requesting body. The issuing alarm service company is required to maintain certified fire alarm monitoring systems under its care and inspection service. A ULC certificate indicates that the listed alarm service company inspects, tests, and maintains the installation.

Impact on Response Time

OPEN ACCESS fire monitoring white paperIn the early 2000s, an independent study was conducted by Leber & Rubes in which they discovered that it took, on average, two full minutes for fire alarm signals to be delivered to the fire department from a monitoring company.  The CAN/ULC-S561 standard requirement is a maximum of 30 seconds, which is a drastic improvement from the reported two-minute average.  Time is precious when dealing with a fire, which doubles in size after the first four minutes.

Learn More

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

If 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.