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What’s Involved in a Fire Pump Inspection?

Posted on: February 9, 2011

Think fast – when was the last time you had a fire pump inspection in your building? Fire pumps are an integral part of your fire sprinkler system (they’re the part that makes the whole thing run!). Due to their complexity and their out of the way location, however, fire pumps are vulnerable to things like corrosive environments, tampering, accidental damage and careless use. For this reason, annual fire pump inspection is absolutely essential to ensure that your fire pump will work properly to keep you safe from fires at all times.

So what happens during a fire pump inspection?

The first thing that gets checked during a fire pump inspection is the coupling alignments of all the pipes. There are a variety of things that can throw off the alignment, from thermal expansion to careless maintenance. You have to be careful, though – if misaligned couplings go unchecked for too long it could result in premature failure and possible disruption of service when the pump is going off.

The next step of the fire pump inspection process is a check of the circulation relief valves. The circulation relief valves prevent the pump from overheating when operating at shut off conditions, a requirement for weekly fire pump testing (which we’ll get into in a minute). This part of the fire pump inspection process is extremely important – it doesn’t take long for the fire pump to overheat during testing, and overheating can be devastating to your pump.

Next on the agenda for fire pump inspection is a test of the tamper and flow switches. Tamper switches send a signal to the fire alarm monitoring company, letting them know if a valve on the fire pump has been closed. This is crucial because it prevents any accidental (or intentional, as the case may be) tampering with your fire pump that could compromise its ability to keep you protected. Flow switches are the parts of your fire pump that start the water flow and trigger the alarms in the event of a fire. It’s no secret why checks of these valves during fire pump inspection are so crucial!

There’s also the actual test of the pressures and flow rates that your pump kicks out. This is the one that everyone will know is happening. Typically, there are long hoses attached to an outside manifold that help measure the flow of water (and the water pressure) when the pump is pumping. Depending on the building size and the size of your fire pump – there can be an incredible amount of water kicked out onto your front lawn or street area. But that’s what has to happen to ensure that your fire pump can really crank out the water when it needs to.

How do you perform a fire pump test?

To ensure that nothing happens between your fire pump inspections, you should run a weekly fire pump testing at shut off conditions (without water flowing through your sprinkler heads). These are fairly easy to do: call Guardian and tell us you’re going to run a fire pump test. Then, run your fire pump for 10 minutes. If all goes well, you’re good for another week. If not, let us know and we’ll come out and fix the problem.

If you need fire pump inspection in Maryland, Virginia or Washington, DC, call Guardian Fire Protection Services. We’ll check all the components of your fire pump and make sure you’ll always be protected if a fire strikes.

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