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Special Reports & Feature Stories!
CAN/ULC-536-04 (Canadian Annual Fire Alarm Inspection Standard) DO’SAND DON’T’S
WHAT'S IN A REPORT?
By Frank Kurz
How often have I seen incomplete (or non-compliant) testing reports? Sadly, all too often! So what are the reasons technicians give for failing to comply with the Standard?
1. My company only wants us to use their forms and format.
2. I test everything to the Standard but only have to document certain things.
3. It takes too long.
4. I only need to count up the number of devices I've tested and don't need to individually document the testing of each one.
5. I don't understand a good deal of the terminology used.
6. I don't need to test half the stuff on the form every year. Some of this I only have to do every three years.
Some Battlefield Examples:
Here are some examples of reports that DO NOT comply with the Canadian Annual Inspection Standard (culled from municipalities in the Lower Mainland). All of these reports were the subjects of formal complaints filed with ASTTBC.
NOTE: While this last report is actually based on the form which you could once download from the ASTTBC website, we’ve featured it as a failure for the simple reason that it’s not properly completed and some key elements are actually MISSING (there are NO Individual Field Device Test Record sheets).
It's actually quite simple to document all of the required testing under the Standard. There are a variety of online sources you can access to obtain an actual testing report form. Some of these you have to pay for (CFAA for example uses a third party agency that produces the forms for their technicians to use). In this day and age, downloading a valid test report form is both quick and easy. Filling it out, however is another matter entirely. You see the problem is that many employers still labour under the mistaken belief that a van parked at the office means the guy normally driving it isn't being productive (isn't generating the revenue necessary to justify his salary, let alone his portion of the overhead expenses). There may even be pressure put on the technician to complete the reports on your own time. I used to work for a company (early '90's) where one of the partners would simply go ballistic if any one of the vans was still parked out back after 8:00 AM. The guys had to have all the parts and work orders together that they needed for the day and be on the road to the first job before 0800 hours - no excuses. Efficient? In a way, yes. I wouldn't say it was a particularly good way to start the day though if, for some reason, you encountered a problem that delayed your departure.
This series is all about the Canadian Fire Alarm Testing Standard (CAN/ULC-S536). And in the way of a reminder, I should state that we're currently all using the "-04" version. That means we should all be on the same page when it comes to the testing of a fire alarm system as well as providing the physical documentation required for that testing.
There are no exceptions!
INSPECTION STANDARD REQUIREMENTS - DISPELLING THE MYTHS (AND SOME SUGGESTIONS):
The criteria for the annual inspection of a fire alarm system (in Canada) is outlined in CAN/ULC-S536-04 Appendix "E", and the newly published version CAN/ULC-S536-13 Appendix “C”. As we’ve already mentioned, ASTTBC no longer makes their forms available for downloading, but you can still access the Building Annual Inspection Form from our Library. In many communities in the Lower Mainland (British Columbia) technicians are actually required by the local jurisdictional authority to utilize the ASTTBC forms. This means that forms your service company happens to use in other parts of Canada (if you happen to be employed by a company with a national presence) are NOT VALID for use in a city which has happened to adopt the ASTTBC By-Law. If you happen to be an RFPT, you should review the forms which your employer uses to ensure they are in compliance. You are the one that the local authority will hold responsible for using the improper forms or for not completing them properly.
Anyone that purports to test a fire alarm system to the Canadian Standard and who doesn't submit the full report required under this same Standard simply isn't providing the service. This could lead to costly repercussions both the building owner and the fire equipment service company.
There is positively NO EXCUSE for not providing what the testing standard calls for!
What we’re all about! We are not affiliated with ASTTBC, CFAA, CANASA, NFPA, NAFED, or NICET (although we encourage you to explore and objectively evaluate the benefits associated with supporting their individual efforts). Membership in the Fire Technicians Network is entirely voluntary. Are you up to the challenge of demonstrating your commitment to public safety and the highest standard of professional practice?