Security Guard test, course, and training in Ontario, Canada
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Security Guard Course and Test Information

This page is a sort of preview of what you might find in your 40-hour course. You can also use it as a quick reference or source of additional information as you go through the course. In the same way, it is an overview of the type of material you'll find on the test, because it is based on the Ministry's own information and course guidelines.

The test is $60 for each attempt, and you can write it as many times as you need. Staff at different test centres have said there are either 5 or 6 different versions. All versions of the test are multiple choice. Passing grade is 62 percent.

(Your licence photo is good for 5 years. The generic renewal form has a photograph section, but you can ignore it unless your renewal notice clearly states you need to submit new photos.)

Update - March 2011

The Ministry now provides two Test Preparation Guides:
  1) Security Guard Test Preparation Guide
  2) Private Investigator Test Preparation Guide

Update - April 2011

For some reason the Ministry has attached an appendix to the Security Guard test preparation guide listing APCO radio codes. This is confusing because few of these codes match any being used in Canada or Ontario. As just one example, the bomb code widely used in Canada is 10-100, whereas APCO suggests 10-89. APCO (Association of Public Safety Communications Officials) is based in Florida, and although it is considered a worldwide standards group for emergency services (police, fire, EMS), it has almost no bearing in Ontario. For your test, be aware the Ministry has posted this appendix!

Update - September 2011

The Ministry has changed licence terms for Security Guards, private investigators, and agencies.
Ontario Security Guard licences will now be valid for two years instead of one, and will renew on your birthday. This takes effect January 30, 2012.
The fee of $80 will remain the same for the new two-year licence, so this is a welcome reduction in cost.

Links From The Security Guard Course Curriculum

The official Security Guard course curriculum is on the Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services website. It explains in detail what must be taught in the 40-hour training course, so you should read it because it tells you what could be on the test. It is significant that the following 15 links are specifically listed in the appendix.

Some parts of these acts and regulations apply to employers, while other parts apply to employees. You'll have to decide what to read and what to skip. For instance, the Trespass To Property Act is a very short document (3 pages), and you would be wise to read it a few times. But the Occupational Health & Safety Act is huge, and much of it doesn't apply to the average worker, so you might want to skip directly to the parts regarding employee rights and responsibilities. You should skim all of these for things you might need to know.

Other Important Links


Test Preparation / Study Guide

Considering the above information, combined with feedback from people who have written the test, here is a short informal study guide. This is not intended to replace the Security Guard training course, only provide a preview of things you may find on the test.

It is important to know there are many situational questions on the test. This means questions based on your judgement. So memorizing a whole bunch of facts is great, but many of the questions ask what your reactions, decisions, and behaviours should be in different situations. These types of questions test your real understanding of the role of a Security Guard, rather than just pieces of information.

Here are two very good links for sample Security Guard test questions: The following study guide is laid out following the 12 chapters of the official course curriculum (.pdf file) as found on the Ministry website.


Chapter 1 - Introduction To The Security Industry

There have been no reports of any questions about the history of the security industry in Ontario or anything like that. No need to waste time on this.


Chapter 2 - The Private Security & Investigative Services Act and Code of Conduct

You should read this Act several times. It's the whole reason behind all these changes, including the training and testing itself. There are also several specific Regulations found on the Ministry site regarding uniform and vehicle markings, requirements for guards and guard companies, who is responsible for you being in compliance with the law (hint: you are), fines for violations, the Code of Conduct for guard behaviour, and more. It's really very simple, and you can skip everything that only applies to companies, which is most of it.

Take 5 minutes and skim through it: Private Security & Investigative Services Act

A few highlights:
- There are 4 terms that Security Guards and Private Investigators are forbidden to use:
      1. Detective (or Private Detective, etc.)
      2. Law enforcement
      3. Police
      4. Officer

- There are 4 things required to be a Security Guard in Ontario:
      1. No criminal record
      2. At least 18 years old
      3. Entitled to work in Canada
      4. Complete the training and testing

- A business convicted of an offence is liable to a fine up to $250,000
- An individual convicted of an offence is liable to a fine up to $25,000, up to one year in jail, or both


Chapter 3 - Basic Security Procedures

This section covers common tasks that Security Guards often perform, such as:
  • Access control - monitoring entrance & gate passage, escorting people & valuables, inspecting bags
  • Crowd control - using barricades, keeping order within groups of people indoors and outdoors
  • Vehicle control - hand signals, dangers, traffic flow
  • General observation and monitoring individuals and groups
  • Recognizing symptoms of drug abuse and medical conditions, knowing the similarities and differences
Infrared security alarm motion sensor Alarm Response

There are several types of alarm systems:
  • Physical contacts - detects a door or window being opened when two sensors become separated
  • Infrared (most common) - detects motion using the invisible infrared spectrum
  • Seismic - detects physical shocks in certain frequency ranges like glass breaking
  • Vibration - detects movement using very sensitive sensors mounted on fences or other structures
  • Photo-electric beams - detects a visible or infrared beam being broken, like garage doors use
  • Ultrasonic (rare) - detects motion like bats do, using bouncing sound waves we can't hear
  • Microwave (rare) - detects motion using bouncing microwaves
  • Electric fields (rare) - detects presence using electrical wires, measuring changes in amplitude
  • Trip wires (rare) - detects intrusion when someone physically bumps a tightly strung wire
During alarm response, stay in touch with dispatch, a supervisor, or another guard when possible. Make your own safety a priority. If a crime is witnessed or confirmed from your findings, call police immediately and back off, observing the area from a safe distance.


Chapter 4 - Report Writing

The key points of note taking and report writing:
  • notes and reports are rarely used as evidence, but your testimony based on your notes can be
  • police forces and security companies use black ink so photocopies/faxes can be read clearly
  • write notes & reports as soon as possible, they'll be more accurate than if written later
  • when your notes are done, strike out any remaining blank areas and initial
  • professional notebooks & reports have numbered pages, and pages should never be missing
  • record dates, times, and locations precisely
  • use third-person language, be objective
  • state only facts, not your feelings, or interpretations, or beliefs
  • never make assumptions, draw conclusions, or "read between the lines"
  • notes and reports are for documentation only, not the place for explaining or solving things
  • quote people EXACTLY as they speak, never use your own words or paraphrase (use " " marks)
  • ask people to repeat more than once exactly what they witnessed
  • all notes and reports should be considered confidential to the client and security company
  • basically, be a robot and record only exactly what is presented to you, thoroughly


Chapter 5 - Health and Safety

The Occupational Health & Safety act and WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System). This is a large Act that outlines responsibilities for employers and employees, including the structure of H&S committees, fines, penalties, and more.

Skim Part III of the Act to learn about the health & safety responsibilities of supervisors and workers. This section also covers violence and harassment in the workplace.

Skim Part IV of the Act about toxic substances. There are 8 WHMIS symbols that represent categories of dangerous materials. These can be found online for you to memorize (i.e. this Ministry chart)

Skim Part V, called "Right To Refuse Or To Stop Work Where Health or Safety In Danger". Security Guards are not police officers, and aren't expected to put their life on the line. All employees have the right to question the safety of their work, and Security Guards should clearly understand this part of the Act for their own safety. An employer can NOT reprimand, dismiss, or intimidate any employee for a legitimate decision to stop work due to safety risks to him/herself, other workers, clients, the public, or anyone else. An employer is required to investigate claims of unsafe conditions and circumstances.


Chapter 6 - Emergency Response Preparation

Bomb Threats

RCMP bomb threat procedures actually suggest you contact your supervisor while still on the phone with the caller, so THEY can contact police. This assumes you have a supervisor available that very second, that you can somehow reach him/her without the caller knowing, and that you can clearly convey that you are on another phone call getting a bomb threat (which you are ignoring because you are talking to your supervisor). As dumb as this seems, be prepared for a possible question and select the "correct" answer based on this.

For any site you are working at, make sure the security reference materials and/or Post Orders contain the local police & emergency phone numbers, as well as the client's own emergency response procedures and contact numbers. These days most companies have very detailed written emergency procedures.

Emergencies

Emergencies may include chemical spills, explosions, auto accidents, severe storms, power failures, etc. Where people are present, the first priority is to ensure their (and your own) safety and keep people away from the emergency scene. If people are not present, isolate and secure the scene. In both cases, call police / fire / ambulance / rescue as soon as possible (and your supervisor).

Provide First Aid as appropriate, and move people away from danger. Regardless of the cause of a disaster, always preserve evidence and secure the scene for investigation by authorities.

Fire Safety

There are three classes of fire extinguisher, to fight three types of fires:
  • Class A - solids (wood, paper, cloth, etc.)
  • Class B - liquids (gas, oil, alcohol, etc.)
  • Class C - electrical (self-explanatory)

Chapter 7 - Canadian Legal System

Evidence handling procedures, and determining what may be used as evidence, is found in these two Acts: You should also be familiar with local bylaws (for example, many people don't realize Peterborough's noise bylaw is in effect 24 hours a day, not just "after 11pm" or something).


Chapter 8 - Legal Authorities

In Canada, there are 3 types of criminal offence:

1) Summary conviction: Minor offences like trespassing, soliciting a prostitute, causing a disturbance; fines less than $5000 and/or up to 6 months in jail.

2) Indictable offence: Major offences like murder, robbery, B&E; generally involves trial by jury; anyone observed committing an indictable offence may be arrested on sight without warrant (by police, Security, or citizens) OR if there are no eyewitnesses, arrest by police requires a warrant signed by a judge, citing "reasonable and probable grounds"; there are also 3 levels of indictable offence, allowing for major fines and jail terms of 2 yrs / 14yrs / life.

3) Hybrid offence (or "Crown option" or "Dual procedure"): May be prosecuted as summary or indictable offence, at the Crown's choosing; sexual assault is a common hybrid offence; hybrid offences are generally considered indictable unless the Crown chooses summary conviction.

Citizen's Arrest

Section 494 of the Criminal Code is formally called "Arrest without warrant by any person". As mentioned above, any citizen (including Security Guards) may arrest anyone caught committing any indictable offence. And any citizen who owns (or agent of the owner, a Security Guard) private property may arrest anyone caught committing any crime in relation to that property. Any citizen (including Security Guards) who has arrested someone MUST turn them over to a peace officer as soon as possible.

The Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms, Section 10 says:
   Everyone has the right on arrest or detention
    a) to be informed promptly of the reason(s) why;
    b) to retain and instruct counsel without delay; and
    c) to be released if the detention is not lawful

Trespass

The Ontario Trespass To Property Act is a quick read. Only a few things to note: approaching a door or entrance for lawful purposes is not trespassing; signs may be posted to allow specific activities and/or to prohibit specific activities, or to prohibit all access; trespass signs must be a minimum 10cm (about the size of a DVD) and posted somewhere "clearly visible in daylight under normal conditions" at EACH ordinary point of access to a premises; maximum fine for trespassing is $2000.

Trespassing at night is a much more serious offence, covered under the Criminal Code of Canada. Those convicted will have a criminal record.


Chapter 9 - Effective Communication

One thing you need to know are basic "10 Codes" or "Radio Codes". These vary widely between RCMP, municipal police, OPP and other services, and also vary widely from one part of Canada to another. But the lower number codes tend to be similar, and here's a list that is generally universal within Ontario.
  • 10-0    radio check
  • 10-1    receiving poorly
  • 10-2    receiving clearly
  • 10-3    stop communications (radio silence)
  • 10-4    ok, understood
  • 10-6    busy, please stand by
  • 10-7    out of service
  • 10-8    in service
  • 10-9    repeat the last transmission
  • 10-10    request common channel
  • 10-19    return to station
  • 10-20    what is your location?
  • 10-21    call by phone
  • 10-33    emergency assistance (normally means police officer in trouble)
  • 10-35    major crime alert
  • 10-78    routine assistance (non-emergency)
  • 10-100   bomb threat
Effective communication blends with the next two sections, beginning with the ability to pay attention, to listen and hear what others are saying. Then you are able to respond and create a responsive dialogue. It also includes developing rapport, being assertive without being aggressive, and being able to diffuse or redirect tense situations.


Chapter 10 - Sensitivity Training

The bottom line here is don't be a jackass. The Ministry has zero tolerance for prejudice of any nature - disability, race, sex, religion, age, economic status, employment, or anything else. Treat all people fairly and act like a mature adult. The ability to sincerely put yourself in another person's shoes will probably change your outlook on life in general, and is a requirement of being a Security Guard.
National Use of Force Model diagram

Chapter 11 - Use of Force Theory

This refers to the National Use of Force model (created by a group of experts from across Canada and the U.S., and endorsed by the RCMP), not the Ontario one (created by the OPP).

This diagram is only a representation of the Use of Force framework, which defines the terms used, and outlines situations that represent the various categories of behaviour and response.

Remember this was designed to guide the actions of police officers, not Security Guards. The point is to be able to recognize these different situations and conditions, and understand what is happening around you.


Chapter 12 - Emergency Level First Aid Certification

In order to hold an Ontario Security Guard licence, you must be certified in Emergency Level First Aid. This is the last chapter of the curriculum, and a mandatory component of the Security Guard course. It is credited as 6.5 hours of the total 40.

Outside of the course, this is a one-day class, between 6 and 8 hours long, costing less than $100. It is valid for three years.

The Ministry originally indicated there wouldn't be any questions about this on the exam, since you have to pass the First Aid test in order to receive your certificate in the first place. But this is wrong, there are some questions. They are situational questions, and you should have no trouble answering them if you've taken a First Aid course.





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