Integrated Systems Testing Explained

May 16, 2024

Across Canada, building code now requires Integrated System Testing (IST) where fire and life safety systems are interconnected together. For example, this requirement means that any building with a fire alarm that connects with a remote monitoring station or that is monitored by your local fire department, or that is interconnected with other building systems such as hold-open devices or fire suppression systems, must be tested in compliance with ULC-S1001.

While the above examples are common integrations where testing is required, they are not exhaustive. More complex buildings will require more complex test plans. Building owners are responsible for ensuring the testing happens at the appropriate intervals and that testing records and logs are maintained, but the testing can only be carried out by a qualified Integrated Systems Coordinator (ISC).

DGH Engineering Ltd. (DGH) has the experience and expertise to act as an Integrated Systems Coordinator for your building.

What is Integrated System Testing?

Integrated System Testing is a systematic approach to testing the integrations between each and every Fire and Life Safety system in your building. A fire alarm may have a variety of possible inputs and outputs, both within the building and beyond the walls of the building (such as monitoring stations).

To complete IST, an Integrated System Coordinator will review all Fire and Life Safety systems in the building and determine the integrations and possible states that can arise from alarm events. Once the review is complete, a detailed description of the system is prepared, including an integration matrix and testing procedures with safety requirements.

Once the procedures have been prepared, all personnel required on site for the testing will be coordinated to complete the testing procedures. The ISC is responsible for oversight of the testing and will require subtrades or contractors to be present to complete the testing.

The ISC will also determine all departments and personnel that need to be informed when testing occurs, such as fire department representatives and monitoring companies.

Upon completion, a test report will be compiled, which will include a description of the systems and integrations, an integration matrix, testing procedures, a test log, post-test actions, and supporting documentation to add context and information to the report.

Currently, ULC-S1001 standards required that Building Owners retain records-generally in the form of test reports-documenting that testing has been carried out at the correct intervals.

Why do Building Owners need Integrated System Testing (IST)?

Building owners are now required to complete these tests by code. Changes in the 2015 & 2020 National Building Code of Canada (NBCC 2015 & 2020) necessitated this requirement for permitting. The recent harmonization of building codes across Canada brings this requirement in to effect in all provinces and territories. Additionally, IST provides more robust testing for the Fire and Life Safety systems that keep your building and its occupants safe.

Proper maintenance and testing of Fire and Life Safety systems is essential to ensure these systems work when we need them the most. If you have interconnected Fire and Life Safety Systems in your building, Integrated System Testing following ULC-S1001 standards can verify that your system will work as expected should it be needed, or it can be used to determine solutions for existing faults in the system.

When do you need an Integrated Systems Test

The NBCC requires that IST be scheduled following ULC-S1001 standards. If your building project or renovation includes a fire and life safety system that is integrated with any other system, you must complete IST to meet permitting requirements.

Once the first test is completed at the closeout of construction, a second test must be completed one year following the first test. Following the first two tests, testing is to be completed every five years. If there are any renovations or modifications to the building that include changes or modifications to fire and life safety systems, Integrated Systems Testing must be carried out in the same manner following the same schedule.

There is no minimum prescriptive building size that requires these tests. As soon as your building includes a fire alarm that is interconnected with one other system, you need to ensure it meets ULC-S1001 requirements.

In Summary:

All buildings in Canada are expected to meet ULC-S1001 standards for Integrated Systems Testing. These standards require that:

  • Testing is completed two times, one year apart, for the first testing interval, and once every five years thereafter
  • Building Owners retain documentation and test reports on site demonstrating that testing has been completed at the correct intervals
  • Authorities Having Jurisdiction ensure compliance with standards
  • Integrated System Testing is carried out by an Integrated Systems Coordinator

DGH has experience acting as an Integrated Systems Coordinator and can provide Integrated System Testing as a standalone service for new builds and existing buildings, or with our trusted building design services.

Call us to develop a testing plan for your building!

Article developed by Stephen Whitmore & Richard Granger, DGH Engineering Ltd.


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