A fire pump is an essential part of many water-based fire protection systems like sprinklers, standpipes, and foam systems. They are used when the available water supply cannot generate enough pressure (measured in psi and bar) to meet system demand. Fire pumps can boost the hydraulic pressure and flow of a water source to overcome gravity and other factors that may limit the effectiveness of the fire protection system.
When designing a fire pump system, it is important to understand the specific requirements and elements that should be considered to ensure a compliant final installation. The building owner, local fire protection provider, fire marshal, and engineer should all work together to ensure that a well-planned, compliant system is designed and installed.
Choosing the right fire pump for a particular application is also critical to ensuring a successful installation. The pump must have a sufficient horsepower, flow rate, and pressure to achieve its intended objectives while minimizing waste and maintaining the ability to operate without power or a water source.
There are several different types of fire pumps available and each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages depending on the needs of the application. Some of the most common types of fire pumps include:
Centrifugal Fire Pump
A centrifugal fire pump is the most popular type and offers a wide range of sizes. This type of fire pump offers a high amount of pressure and a good flow rate with relatively low energy consumption and noise levels.
Positive Displacement Fire Pump
A positive displacement fire pump is very quiet and offers a higher flow rate than a centrifugal fire pump. This type of fire pump is less expensive than a centrifugal fire pump and is also available in a wide range of sizes. Positive displacement fire pumps are typically used for applications with water mist and foam-water systems.
In order for a fire pump to operate properly it must have a driver. The most commonly used driver for a fire pump is an electrical motor. The electrical motor takes electrical power which spins a shaft connected to an impeller that in turn, rotates the pump’s nozzles. Diesel motor fire pumps are also available but are not as common as electric motor fire pumps.
Once the pump has been selected and installed, it must be thoroughly tested to ensure that it will perform as expected during a real emergency. This testing should be performed by a licensed fire protection professional who will put the entire system through its paces using real water and actual system demand.
In addition to performing a full functional test, it is important to perform weekly, monthly, and annual inspections and maintenance on the fire pump to ensure that it remains in proper working condition. Many fire protection providers offer these services to their customers. Performing these inspections can help prevent expensive downtime during an emergency by identifying potential issues before they become problems that could cause the fire pump to fail to operate during a real emergency.