One of the most common questions we get from customers calling into our ULC-listed Signals Receiving Centre (monitoring station) is “why do I need fire monitoring?”. This question often comes from building owners or supervisors who are reviewing the services in their building. There are a couple of important reasons why you may need fire alarm monitoring in your facility:
It is a Code Requirement
The various Codes in our country define what types of buildings are to be monitored remotely by a third party. In Ontario, for example, the Building Code states:
18.104.22.168. 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,
(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 22.214.171.124. to 126.96.36.199
(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.
(4) Notification of the fire department required by Sentences (1) to (3) shall be by way of,
(a) signals to a central station conforming to CAN/ULC-S561, “Installation and Services for Fire Signal Receiving Centres and Systems”, or
(b) the municipal fire alarm system.
The Ontario Fire Code references the Ontario Building Code as a requirement for monitoring, but also references the CAN/ULC-S561 standard.
This means that if your building falls into any one of the above categories, there is a requirement by law to have your system monitored to the CAN/ULC-S561 standard. In this case, the monitoring should conform to the CAN/ULC-S561 standard, and should have a certificate from the monitoring company to attest to this fact. The ULC Certificate is the only physical proof that the monitoring on your premises conforms to the CAN/ULC-S561 standard.
Peace of mind
If your building is not required to be monitored, it is still advisable to have the alarm system monitored. Fire Alarm systems are designed to detect alarms and get people out of the building. Fire Alarm systems do not automatically notify the fire department. This means that if an alarm is activated the fire department may not necessarily be called, unless there is someone on site who remembers to do so. Having a monitored alarm system ensures that upon activation, the fire department is always dispatched.
A separate piece of equipment is required in order to have your system monitored, which needs to be installed in the area closest to the fire alarm panel or sprinkler system.
We hope this helps clarify why you may need or want to have your fire alarm system monitored, and what benefit it may have to you. Please call us at 888-789-FIRE to answer any questions you may have.