Apr 13, 2021

William (Bill) BurrBy William (Bill) Burr

Section 32 – Fire Alarm Systems, Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms, and Fire Pumps, as outlined in Rule 32-000 Scope, is a supplementary or amendatory section of the code and provides additional and specific requirements for the location, installation, wiring, and protection, of

• local fire alarm systems

• permanently connected smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

• fire pumps required by the National Building Code of Canada as referenced in Appendix G

For further information, reference should also be made to Canadian Standard CAN/ULC – S524 Standard for the Installation of Fire Alarm Systems published by Appendix B contains important additional helpful notes and the CEC Handbook also contains helpful information.

Fire alarm systems

Rule 32-100 specifies the requirements for insulated conductors and cables in fire alarm systems which include:

• copper material

• ampacity

• use of optical fiber cables

• use of stranded conductors

• insulation rated at 300 volts

• determining wire size for raceways or integral assemblies

• selection in accordance with rules 12-102(3) or 12-122(1)

Rule 32-102 outlines wiring methods for installation of insulated conductors:

• either in metal, non-metallic raceway, or having a metal armour or sheath

• where installed in buildings of combustible construction, conductors must be installed in accordance with Section 12

• conductors need to be installed independent of any other wiring except for point of supply, signal, ancillary device, or communication circuits and must be insulated for the highest voltage rated conductor

• communication circuits must conform to Section 60

Rule 32-104 requires that all exposed non-current-carrying parts of electrical equipment must be bonded to ground in accordance with Section 10, and that non-metallic fire alarm wiring systems must incorporate a bonding conductor. sized in accordance with Rule 10-616.

Rule 32-106 denotes that for electrical supervision, each circuit conductor terminal shall be independently terminated.

Rule 32-108 specifies that the fire alarm system power supply, except for included additional control units or transponders, be on a separate circuit and that the overcurrent devices and disconnecting means be permanently identified as a fire alarm system, be coloured red, and lockable in the on position.

Rule 32-200 provides installation requirements for permanently connected smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in dwelling units that are required by the National Building Code of Canada (see Appendix G). The rule requires that

• smoke and carbon monoxide alarms be supplied from a circuit, such as a lighting only or mixed lighting and receptacle circuit

• that will provide an indication if shut off

• have no disconnect between the alarms and the branch circuit overcurrent device

• have no GFCI or AFCI device between the alarms and the branch circuit overcurrent device, except where a smoke, carbon monoxide or a combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarm has an integral battery as a secondary supply source

As an exception to the requirements of Rules 32-100 and 32-102, where a smoke alarm, carbon monoxide alarm and associated equipment circuit utilizes a Class 2 power supply for interconnection, Class 2 wiring methods may be used for buildings of combustible construction, in accordance with Rules 12-506 to 12-524.

Fire pumps

Rule 32-300 requires that insulated conductors for the supply of a fire pump supplied from the emergency power source have an ampacity not less than 125% of the full load current rating of the motor or sum of multiple motors and auxiliary motors, and be protected from fire exposure to provide continuing operation during a fire as required by the National Building Code of Canada (see Appendix G).

Rule 32-302 outlines the requirements for insulated conductors of fire pumps to be installed in metal raceways, in armour or metal sheathed cable, selected in accordance with Rule 12-102 (3) in rigid non-metallic conduit embedded in concrete, or electrical non-metallic tubing embedded in concrete.

Rule 32-304 provides that a separate service box for a fire pump and equipment may be installed in conformance with rule 32-306 below and, notwithstanding rule 6-102(2), may be located remote from other service boxes.

Rule 32-306 requires that no disconnecting means, overcurrent protection or device capable of interrupting the fire pump circuit may be placed between the service box from the normal power supply and the fire pump transfer switch or controller:

• except a circuit breaker that is permanently labeled identifying it as a fire pump disconnect.

• In addition, the circuit breaker must be lockable in the closed position and may be in the separate service box as in Rule 32-304 above.

• In the case where this circuit breaker is installed in an emergency power supply circuit between the emergency power source and the fire pump transfer switch, the rating of the circuit breaker shall be

◦ as per rule 28-200

◦ be set or rated to not less than the rating of the overcurrent protection provided integral with the fire pump transfer switch

◦ indefinitely carry the locked rotor current of the fire pump

◦ where it is installed in a normal supply circuit be rated not less than the overcurrent protection of the fire pump controller

• where the circuit breaker is installed in an emergency supply feeder between the emergency generator and the fire pump transfer switch, the feeder must bypass the generator main circuit breaker and be connected directly to the emergency generator.

Rule 32-308 requires that where an on-site electrical transfer switch is used to provide emergency power supply to a fire pump, it must be provided solely for the fire pump, located in a barriered or separate compartment or enclosure, permanently labeled as the fire pump power transfer switch, and suitable and marked for fire pump service. Where more than one fire pump is provided, a transfer switch is required for each fire pump.

Rule 32-310 provides that overload and overheating protection for branch circuit, control or equipment conductors shall not be required but shall be protected by the motor branch circuit overcurrent device.

Rule 32-210 specifies that ground fault protection shall not be installed in a fire pump circuit.

In the next installment, we will be discussing Section 34 – Signs and Outline Lighting.

William (Bill) Burr is the former Chair of the Canadian Advisory Council on Electrical Safety (CACES), former Director of Electrical and Elevator Safety for the Province of BC, and former Director of Electrical and Gas Standards Development and former Director of Conformity Assessment at CSA Group. Bill can be reached at Burr and Associates Consulting

* Source: CSA C22.1:21, Canadian Electrical Code, Part 1 - Safety Standard for Electrical Installations. © 2021 Canadian Standards Association. Please visit With the permission of CSA Group, material is reproduced from CSA Group standard CSA C22.1:21, Canadian Electrical Code, Part 1 - Safety Standard for Electrical Installations. This material is not the complete and official position of CSA Group on the referenced subject, which is represented solely by the Standard in its entirety. While use of the material has been authorized, CSA Group is not responsible for the manner in which the data are presented, nor for any representations and interpretations. No further reproduction is permitted. For more information or to purchase standard(s) from CSA Group, please visit or call 1-800-463-6727.