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Fire Pump Inspection FAQs

Posted on: April 26, 2013

Early spring is the perfect time of year for a fire pump test—with the risk of freezing temperatures behind us, there’s no potential for a flow test to turn into an icy hazard.

NFPA 25 stipulates a number of fire pump inspections and tests, including quarterly, semiannual, annual, and five-year checks. Insurance companies may have other or additional requirements. Facility or operations managers need to be very clear with their fire protection service provider about what their insurance provider requires in order to be comprehensively covered in case of a fire.

The following are some questions we are frequently asked about fire pumps:

1. What does a fire pump do?

Your fire pump is designed to increase the pressure coming from your water source to the rate required for your fire sprinkler system to respond appropriately when you need it. Different pump sizes raise pressure to different rates, and should be sized appropriately when first installed as well as inspected every time you make changes to your building’s design/layout.

2. Why do I need a fire pump?

Fire pumps are not required in every building—only ones in which the design requirements of the fire sprinkler system exceed the capabilities of the water supply. Your insurance company may have additional requirements about the size of your fire sprinkler system.

Some older buildings may not have fire pumps installed where they are needed. If this is the case, call Guardian Fire Protection – we can install a fire pump in your building that will ensure your safety day and night.

3. What if I don’t have city water?

Many of our major clients are industrial or manufacturing facilities located in rural areas without access to city water. Many of these clients rely on wells that typically have a water storage tank or pond capable of storing thousands of gallons of water. These wells feed a fire pump to increase pressure to the fire sprinkler system. In case of a fire, the fire pump generates the pressure to push this water through the fire protection system.

4. What about a boil order?

If the water pressure in the city main drops below 20 psi (which can happen if a fire sprinkler system in a building goes off), this can cause the city to require a boil order to keep tap water safe. A fire pump helps prevent this from happening by supplementing the water pressure within a building.

5. What does a fire pump test include?

During an annual fire pump test, technicians will check all of the lines and incoming voltage. Specifically, they will look at all three phases to make sure there is not excessive voltage going to the panel, which could cause it to short out. They also check the amps and revolutions per minute on the shaft that runs the fire pump’s engine, as well as look for internal problems with the pump and check to see if it is performing per its design standards.

Your technician will also perform a flow test at 100 and 150 percent of the pump’s rated value to be sure the fire pump can meet the system demand.

For diesel pumps, your technician should check fuel levels and batteries and perform a gravity test. In a nutshell, your technician should carry out a full engine service and visual inspection.

6. What if I miss my fire pump test?

If you don’t take care of your fire pump, your system will not likely perform per its design standards. That means there’s a good possibility that a fire will not be put out if you have one. It’s pretty simple.

7. What should I do between tests to keep my fire pump in good shape?

The biggest maintenance item is to run your pump on a weekly or monthly basis depending on the pump type. Also make sure your drain lines are actually draining and not just flooding the floor. Keep the area where your fire pump is clear of rust and debris to prevent clogs.

For most buildings in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, a fire pump is an extremely important piece of fire protection equipment. If you need to schedule your annual fire pump inspection, call Guardian Fire Protection today.

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