The 2018 BC Fire Code Legislation was adopted by the BC Government on December 10, 2018. This new code has in turn mandated the CAN/ULC-S536-13 Standard for the Inspection and Testing of Fire Alarm Systems, and the CAN/ULC Standard for the Testing and Inspection of Smoke Alarms.
These new standards impact Building Owners, Property Managers, and Fire Alarm Service Companies that provide the testing and reporting in order to comply with these regulations and standards. All buildings that contain Fire Alarm Systems and Smoke Alarms are required to comply with the BC Fire Code. There are no exceptions.
Building Owner Responsibility
The BC Fire Code identifies that the building owner is responsible for compliance with the BC Fire Code. The building owner (or his agent) shall ensure the procedures and documentation of those procedures shall be carried out in order to ensure the safety of the occupants. Division C 220.127.116.11 Responsibility 1) Unless otherwise specified, the owner or the owner’s authorized agent shall be responsible for carrying out the provisions of this Code.
Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ)
Buildings are constructed in accordance with the BC Building Code under the jurisdiction of the local building codes. Once a building is deemed to be suitable for occupancy, ongoing maintenance and Fire Code compliance is overseen by the local fire department. The local fire department is the Authority Having Jurisdiction for existing buildings.
General BC Fire Code Requirements
Building Owners and Property Managers delegate fire alarm service to individuals or contractors dedicated to providing various levels of fire alarm testing.
Monthly testing of fire alarm systems mandated by code can be performed by any person. They must be knowledgeable and trained to perform a monthly test of the system while the system operating on standby power, and shall keep a record on site of such tests for review by the AHJ.
Annual Fire Alarm Inspection
Annual Fire Alarm Testing and Inspection shall be performed by a contractor that is deemed to be knowledgeable of the procedures and requirements and acceptable to the Authority Having Jurisdiction. 18.104.22.168 Inspection and Testing 1) Fire Alarm Systems shall be inspected and tested in conformance with CAN/ULC-S536, “Inspection and Testing of Fire Alarm Systems.”
Fire Safety Plans
Fire Safety Plans for buildings with a fire alarm system are a requirement of the BC Fire Code. These plans shall include a detailed description of the fire alarm system operating system, silencing and resetting instructions, sequence of operation of ancillary equipment controlled by the fire alarm system, service provider, offsite monitoring, fire warden and all contact information along with information regarding occupants that require physical assistance during an emergency. Fire Safety Plans shall also include site drawings showing egress routes, manual pull stations, fire extinguishers along with fire alarm inspection reports for the previous two years.
2018 BC Fire Code Changes and Challenges
The recently adopted BC Fire Code presents new challenges as well as drawing attention to existing procedures and reporting requirements in order to successfully comply with provincial regulations and national Underwriters Laboratory Standards.
It is now mandatory to vacuum all residential smoke alarms as well as having tests completed with the 120 volt supply being disconnected and operating only on the backup battery if applicable.
The new reporting requirements contain additional columns that record all output devices including the operation of ancillary controls such as fan shutdowns, damper operation, smoke control fans, door magnets, closures and locks. There is also a renewed focus on recording tests on passive devices connected to the fire alarm system. End of line resistors require open circuit, short circuit, and ground fault indication. Isolation modules that protect the activation circuits in the new addressable systems require short testing and recording to ensure the operation of automatic detection as well as manual devices that activate alarms. Duct smoke detectors require the confirmation of appropriate airflow within the air ducts with a manometer reading noted within the inspection report.
The Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC) has also recently clarified that the “One Man Walk-Test” feature incorporated with most newer fire alarm panels is not acceptable within Canada, meaning that a technician is required to be positioned at the fire alarm panel and/or annunciator in order to validate appropriate zone activation.