Find out whether your building needs a fire alarm system, how to take care of it, and what to do if the alarm goes off.

Many buildings have a fire alarm system that sounds an alarm throughout the building when the first signs of fire are detected. Your building needs one if any of the following conditions apply:

  • The building has an automatic sprinkler system. 
  • The building has more than three storeys, including the basement. 
  • Your establishment can hold more than 150 people in the dark. 
  • Your establishment can hold more than 300 people.
  • Your establishment can hold more than 150 people in the basement or on the second floor.
  • Your establishment is a restaurant or beverage room that can hold more than 150 people.
  • Your establishment is a school, college or educational facility for children that can hold more than 40 people. 


The alarm system must be inspected and tested at least once a year, or as soon as any malfunction is detected. Repairs must be performed by a specialized, independent company registered with the Régie du bâtiment du Québec. These companies can usually be found in the phone book under fire alarms, fire safety or fire protection. 

What to do

The fire alarm has handles (red levers on the walls in the hallway) for manual activation. You must ensure that they are visible and easily accessible. As soon as you detect any sign of fire, you must activate the fire alarm by pulling down one of the red levers to sound the alarm throughout the building. 

When the fire alarm sounds, you must immediately evacuate the people in your business to a safe place outside. You must then call 911 to alert emergency services.   

Fire alarm audibility

If music or high ambient noise levels could make it difficult to hear a fire alarm in your establishment, you must install visual fire alarms in addition to your existing fire alarm. You are also required to install a device or implement a procedure to interrupt your sound system when the fire alarm goes off. 

It is prohibited for building occupants and even managers or building owners to interrupt an alarm signal or reset a sounding alarm. Only firefighters can stop or reset the alarm system.