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Care Facilities & CAN/ULC-S561 Fire Alarm Monitoring

nurseCall_iStock_000014371972_75021Since the year 2007, the CAN/ULC-SS561 standard for fire alarm monitoring has been referenced in the National Building Code and National Fire Code.  This is the same in the Province of Ontario, which has its own Fire Code and Building Code.   Following this line of thinking, any building which has a requirement under the code to have fire alarm monitoring has had a requirement to have their monitoring meet the CAN/ULC-S561 alarm monitoring standard.  Specifically, the Ontario Building Code States:

      (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,

(a)        a Group A occupancy having an occupant load more than 300,

(b)        a Group B occupancy,

(c)        a Group F, Division 1 occupancy,

(d)        a building regulated by the provisions of Subsection 3.2.6., or

(e)        a building containing interconnected floor space required to conform to Articles to

      (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 2 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.

For clarity, Occupancy Types are classified as:

Group Division Description of Major Occupancies
A 1 Assembly occupancies intended for the production and viewing 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

Should you require any clarification on your building type, please consult your local building department or fire department.

Last year, the Ontario Fire Marshall (http://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/FireMarshal/FireServiceResources/Announcements/Retrofit.html) required that all “care and treatment occupancies (e.g. long-term care homes – formerly known as nursing homes, municipal homes for the aged and charitable homes) and licensed retirement homes (i.e. homes for seniors who may require assistance with daily living)” have a requirement to obtain sprinkler systems within 5 years.  There was also a requirement for these facilities to have in place fire alarm monitoring put in place by January 1, 2015.

What does this mean if you operate a Care and Treatment Occupancy or Licensed Retirement Home? This means that there is now a requirement to have your fire alarm system or sprinkler system monitored to the CAN/ULC-S561 standard. This may mean that an upgrade to your current monitoring panel may be required, and a certificate issued.  We’ve noted in this post what is required for a ULC Certificated system, and here what we might need from you. Remember, a ULC Certificate is the only physical proof that the monitoring at your facility meets the CAN/ULC-S561 standard – a letter from your monitoring company does not constitute proof of monitoring conforming to the S561 standard.

Additionally, FMC can provide OPEN ACCESS™ fire alarm monitoring, which electronically retransmits valid fire alarms from your facility directly to the local participating fire department.  OPEN ACCESS™ has been independently proven to reduce fire department response times by almost 2 full minutes, a time which matters in a care facility who may need those extra minutes to evacuate a vulnerable population in the event of an emergency.

If you operate one of these types of facilities, and wish to speak to one of our expert customer service reps about your current monitoring situation, please click here to Contact Us or Call us at 888-789-3473.



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