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  • Writer's pictureNick Harris

CAN/ ULC - C561 Fire Monitoring - What is It?

When speaking to customers, they often ask, “What is ULC-S561 and how can we ensure we are compliant?”.  ULC-S561 is a monitoring standard that is written by the Underwriter’s Laboratories of Canada (ULC), an internationally recognized standards body.  This standard is the point of reference in the Fire Code and Building Code for any building that is required to have its fire alarm or sprinkler monitored, and defines the following:

  • What type of equipment may be used

  • How the Signals Receiving Centre (SRC) is constructed

  • How the monitoring panel is physically installed on site

  • How the monitoring panel communicates with the SRC

  • How alarms are handled when received in the SRC

CAN/ULC-S561 Fire Monitoring Compliant Equipment

The CAN/ULC-S561 standard requires that the equipment used to monitor fire alarm systems be manufactured and tested to the CAN/ULC-S559 standards.  This includes all equipment used at your building as well as the equipment used to receive your building’s signals in the SRC.  This standard ensures the equipment is properly constructed and has the ability to properly handle fire alarm-related signals.  For example, fire monitoring panels that are compliant to CAN/ULC-S559 must be able to prioritize fire alarm signals before all others, and be able to deliver that signal to the SRC within 60 seconds of being activated.

Signals Receiving Centre Construction

CAN/ULC-S561 also oversees how Signals Receiving Centres are built, ensuring that the building that is being used is secure and efficient.  Fire detection, 24/7 back up power, fire rated doors, and controlled security access are just a few of the elements included in this standard.  When you choose a monitoring company with a CAN/ULC-S561 listed SRC, you ensure that they have invested in security and redundancy so that your building remains monitored at all times.

Fire Alarm Monitoring Panel Installation

The CAN/ULC-S561 standard also covers how your fire alarm monitoring panel is installed in your building to ensure its security.  Mechanically protected wiring between the fire alarm and the monitoring panel, tamper-protected cabinets, and a dedicated power source are 3 main components that must be a part of every installation.  Installations must be listed with the ULC; their installations are subject to random inspection by ULC on an annual basis.


CAN/ULC-S561 also regulates how alarms are transmitted to a Signals Receiving Centre.  This can be done through active or passive means of communication.  Additionally, there are also different forms of communication that can be used to ensure you are CAN/ULC-S561 compliant, which include:

  • IP

  • Cellular

  • Phone Line

Fire Alarm Monitoring Signal Handling

The CAN/ULC-S561 standard also regulates how alarms are to be handled when received at a Signals Receiving Centre.  For example, fire alarms must be dispatched to a fire department within 30 seconds of receipt without pre-verification.  Other alarm conditions also have time criteria attached (ex. trouble conditions and communication troubles must be dispatched within 5 minutes).  The ULC will audit a SRC’s execution of these alarm handling criteria so they are held accountable to their performance by an independent third party.

ULC Certificates

As you can see, there are many criteria to fulfill in order to become a ULC compliant site.  The easiest way to verify that the fire alarm monitoring on your site meets all of these criteria is to ask for a ULC certificate from your installer.  These certificates are the only physical proof that the entire process outlined above meets the ULC criteria, and most fire prevention offices only accept this certificate as proof.

Harris Industries and ULC Fire Monitoring:

Harris Industries is not ULC Fire Listed at this time (We are working towards accreditation and expect this to be completed by Q4 of 2024.) In the meantime we have partnered with an Amazing provider to offer our clients the solution they require.

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