An optimally running fire pump is essential for fire safety in a large commercial or residential space. The role of a properly functioning water pump in a fire emergency is to keep water sufficiently pressurized in the system to aid in fire extinguishment. Without enough water pressure, the fire sprinklers and standpipe system will be much less effective in containing and extinguishing a fire hazard.
To ensure public safety, routine fire pump inspection, testing, and maintenance should be conducted regularly.
Fire Pump Inspection & Testing
Proper fire pump inspection and testing must be carried out by a qualified individual with ample knowledge and experience of the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA 25) latest codes and regulations. This could be an outside contractor or in-house personnel for the weekly or monthly test. However, some states may require the annual test to be carried out by a certified professional.
Fire Pump Maintenance
Fire pumps should undergo regularly scheduled maintenance at certain intervals. Here is a checklist for each corresponding period.
- Inspection of the pump house/room – A visual inspection of coupling guards, excessive water pooling on the ground, and a room temperature reading of no less than 40° F (4° C).
- Inspection of the pump system conditions – A visual inspection of the piping for any leaks, wet pit suction screens affixed in place and free of obstructions, a suction pressure gauge reading within normal limits, and the suction reservoir with an appropriate water level.
A physical inspection of the water flow test and hose connection valves in the closed position with the pump suction, discharge, and bypass valves completely open.
- Inspection of the Electrical system conditions – A visual inspection of the controller pilot light, transfer switch normal pilot light, and normal phase rotation pilot light is on and operational. A physical inspection of the oil level in the vertical motor sight glass within normal range and power to pressure maintenance pump is operational.
- A no-flow “churn” start for pump operation (Diesel only) – Start the pump up for 10 minutes while keeping your eye on the suction and pressure reading gauges. Inspect the pump packing glands for any leaks and make any necessary adjustments to gland nuts. Investigate for any strange noises, noticeable vibrations, or overheating. Lastly, record the pump starting pressure and compare your results.
- Inspection of the pump operation (electric only) – A no-flow “churn” test should be conducted similarly to the diesel pump operation.
It is recommended that the annual fire pump flow test be conducted by a certified professional.
- Inspection of the pump operation – The fire pump test as outlined by NFPA 25 begins by connecting hoses to the discharge test header with the hoses leading to a safe location where the large flow of water won’t cause any damage. A close eye should be kept on the pressure reading gauges throughout the test.
The test results are then compared to recommended factory specifications If the pump’s performance isn’t optimal, further assessment is needed to further diagnose and make repairs.