Commissioner's Directive

Use of and Responding to Alarms




Applies to staff monitoring and operating personal portable, fixed-point and cell call alarms within institutions, excluding Community Correctional Centres


  1. The Institutional Head will:
    1. ensure there are sufficient personal portable alarms for issue to staff assigned to permanent locations and identified posts for each shift, including sufficient backup in case of malfunction; and
    2. establish Standing Orders that address:
      1. a protocol that will define which posts will be primary and secondary responders to alarms
      2. where permanently assigned personal portable alarms are located
      3. which posts, positions or staff will be issued personal portable alarms daily
      4. where fixed-point alarms are located
      5. the requirement for issuing instructions to staff on the personal portable, fixed-point and cell call alarms
      6. the requirement for developing procedures for testing the complete fixed-point alarm system including the cell call alarms, and reporting using the Security Inspection Report (CSC/SCC 0774), no less than every 30 days
      7. procedures to ensure the proper transfer, testing, and recording of tests of personal portable alarms
      8. a procedure for adding, removing or relocating fixed-point and personal portable alarms
      9. the use of personal portable alarms by contractors and volunteers
      10. proper storage for spare personal portable alarms


Personal Portable Alarms

  1. Each personal portable alarm issued daily as well as those permanently assigned will be tested at the beginning of each shift. The test will take place at the alarm’s assigned location and the results will be recorded.
  2. Personal portable alarms that are permanently assigned to specific locations will not be removed from their locations unless they malfunction.
  3. Personal portable alarms issued to staff will be worn at all times. Refusal by staff to wear a personal portable alarm is a disciplinary offence.
  4. Inmates are not allowed to possess or operate personal portable alarms.
  5. Personal portable alarms will be activated by staff when they believe that their personal safety, the safety of another person or the security of the institution is at imminent risk and they require immediate assistance and where other forms of notification or communication (e.g. radio, telephone) are believed inadequate given the situation.

Cell Call Alarms

  1. All cell call alarms will be treated as legitimate and designated personnel will respond according to established procedures.
  2. Following the receipt of a cell call alarm, the Correctional Officer/Primary Worker will visually verify the well-being of the inmate before resetting the system.
  3. When taking over a post equipped with a cell alarm monitor, the Correctional Officer/Primary Worker will:
    1. verify that the cell call alarm monitor is turned on and functioning properly
    2. visually verify the status of the inmate cell call alarms ensuring all cell call alarms are enabled
    3. immediately report any malfunction to the Correctional Manager
  1. The cell call alarm will not be disabled until authorization is provided by the Correctional Manager.
  2. Prior to disabling a cell call alarm in an occupied cell, the Correctional Officer/Primary Worker will visually verify the well-being of the inmate.
  3. Normally, cell call alarms will not be disabled for a period longer than 15 minutes. If a cell alarm needs to be disabled for a longer period of time, the Correctional Officer/Primary Worker will:
    1. visually verify the well-being of the inmate before the alarm is disabled, and each 15 minutes thereafter until such time as the alarm is again functioning
    2. record observations in the range logbook
  4. In men’s medium, maximum and multi-level (excluding minimum security units/ranges) security units, Treatment Centres and the secure unit at women’s institutions, when responding to a cell call alarm or upon observing an inmate who appears to be in need of medical assistance, prior to entering the cell, a minimum of two Correctional Officers/Primary Workers must be present at the cell. One additional Correctional Officer/Primary Worker must observe (directly or by camera/monitor) the range area in which the cell is located. This may be from the unit control post or another location within the unit where they can view the area from a distance (e.g. the head of the range).


Original Signed by:
Don Head




CD 566-4 – Inmate Counts and Security Patrols
CD 567 – Management of Security Incidents


Cell call alarm: an alarm unit which is permanently installed in a cell and when activated, triggers an alarm at a central control centre, and identifies the specific alarm unit and/or its designated location.

Fixed-point alarm: a permanently installed security device that triggers an alarm when activated.

Personal portable alarm: a mobile security device that triggers an alarm at a central control centre when activated, and identifies the specific alarm unit and/or its designated location.

For more information

To learn about upcoming or ongoing consultations on proposed federal regulations, visit the Canada Gazette and Consulting with Canadians websites.