The monitoring of a fire alarm system to meet ULC S561 is something we’ve covered before in detail. These systems need a new ULC fire monitoring panel installed and then wiring connected to the “fire alarm”, “fire trouble” and “fire supervisory” relays in the fire alarm panel. It’s these relays which activate alarms which ULC monitoring operators then react to and begin either notifying the fire department of the system’s keyholders.
But, while there are newer buildings with fire sprinkler suppression systems are required to have a fire alarm component, not all buildings with fire sprinkler systems have this requirement. However, every building with a sprinkler has a requirement for ULC fire sprinkler monitoring. So without a fire alarm system, how does a monitoring company go about providing ULC S561 monitoring for sprinklers?
First of all, the fire sprinkler system should have switches installed for each item that needs monitoring. This will need to be done by your sprinkler company. These switches will act in a similar way to the relays in your fire alarm system work. When one of the areas goes into alarm, the switches activate a relay which the fire sprinkler monitoring panel is connected to. The sprinkler switches (depending on the size of the sprinkler system) provide specific information on the area or zone of the building that the alarm is occurring in, unlike a fire alarm alarm, which only provides general level information. These switches typically provide alarms for the following conditions:
• Low Pressure
• Gate Valve
We’ll cover each one of these in more detail below.
Waterflow Sprinkler Alarms
Waterflow sprinkler alarms are the same as a “fire alarm” condition on a fire alarm system. These alarms tell the monitoring panel that water is flowing through the sprinkler system in order to suppress a fire. Upon receipt of a waterflow alarm, a ULC monitoring company following ULC-S561 must dispatch the fire department within 30 seconds, without verification.
Low Pressure Alarms
Every sprinkler system requires the pipes on the system to maintain a certain pressure in order to properly function. If the pressure falls too low, the sprinkler system may not activate properly. Low Pressure Alarms notify the ULC fire sprinkler monitoring company that the pressure in the sprinkler system has dropped below an acceptable threshold for that system. Upon receipt of a low pressure sprinkler alarm, the monitoring company would notify the keyholders associated with that system and advise them of the situation so that they may begin to rectify it.
Gate Valve Alarms
Gate valves are just that – valves on the sprinkler system which can turn on and off the flow of water to the sprinkler system. Switched for these gate valves on the fire sprinkler system are typically located near a device which looks like a wheel to turn. If a gate valve is closed, no water can flow through the system, rendering the sprinkler system inoperable. If a gate valve alarm is received, then keyholders are notified by the monitoring company.
As mentioned previously, since sprinkler systems can have multiple zones, a ULC fire sprinkler monitoring system may have multiple waterflow, low pressure and gate valve alarms, each for different zones of the building.
These three monitoring items are present in every ULC sprinkler monitoring system. Other systems may have different, additional zones to monitor, depending on the complexity of the system. This can include items associated with a fire pump, low temperature alarms, and more.
However, making sure that you have an understanding of these three items will give you a greater understanding of ULC sprinkler monitoring and how a fire sprinkler system works.