April 2, 2020
In times of a public health crisis, techniques including quarantine, social distancing, work from home and other changes impacting daily life might impact alarm service certifications. As we saw during previous natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy and others, actions taken to maintain monitoring operations may temporarily be out of sync with the current language of UL 827, the Standard for Central Station Services, CAN/ULC-S301, the Standard for Signal Receiving Centres Configurations and Operations and CAN/ULC-S561, the Standard for Installation and Services for Fire Signal Receiving Centres and Systems. When circumstances prevent compliance with the written requirements of the standard for staffing a station, UL recommends that you document any alternate procedure a station takes while the monitoring is out of practice.
At UL, our driving mission is to help create safe living and working conditions for our customers. This value shapes program policies and the standards developed by our nonprofit affiliate, Underwriters Laboratories. We work with the industry to develop reasonable guidelines and alternative operating methods for scenarios such as the current COVID-19 outbreak. Initial drafts for the U.S. and Canada are available for download below this article and will be updated as improvements are identified. These guidelines may eventually contribute to proposed revisions to UL 827, CAN/ULC-S301 and CAN/ULC-S561 to better address future crisis scenarios.
For US-based stations:
Please note that for U.S.-based stations monitoring National Industrial Security System accounts, any deviations from UL 827 language needs to be discussed with and approved by the relevant U.S. federal security agency with jurisdiction.
Our current understanding is that due to the high-risk nature of these systems, many federal security agencies will not approve of monitoring outside a UL Certified Central Station operating room. If such monitoring is not available, defense contractors may have to react in the manner prescribed by the applicable security manual for instances where monitoring is not available or not employed.
We encourage monitoring stations to make contingency plans for operating in environments where operators are not able to physically gather to monitor signals in a central station operating room, or when local government guidelines to limit or prohibit assembly or travel preclude normal station operation.
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