How to Know When Fire Pumps Are Needed

when are fire pumps needed

If you work in a facility or building that requires fire protection sprinklers, you might wonder if you need to install a fire pump. The answer depends on a number of factors. We’re here to tell you everything you need to know. 

What Is a Fire Pump?

The job of a fire pump is to ensure that fire sprinklers work correctly by keeping water pressure at the necessary level. If there’s no pump and the water supply doesn’t generate enough hydraulic pressure to meet the demands of the fire suppression system, water could come out at low pressure, and it won’t be able to put out the fire safely. This could be detrimental to your facility and employees. 

How Do Fire Pumps Work?

Fire pumps have either an electric or diesel-powered engine that turns on when a fire sprinkler’s water pressure reaches a specified level. Each pump has a part called the “jockey pump,” which maintains pressure within the sprinkler system. When a drop in pressure occurs (such as multiple sprinklers working at once or when firefighters arrive and hook up their hoses), the pump will automatically detect it and activate.

When Is a Fire Pump Required?

To decide if a fire pump is necessary for your facility, you’ll compare your fire suppression system’s demands with the availability of water. You’ll need a fire pump if the supply can’t meet the demand. If the water supply can meet the pressure and flow demands, a fire pump isn’t necessary. 

Some of the most typical buildings and facilities that require fire pumps include: 

  • High-rise buildings – Many tall buildings require fire pumps to adequately protect every floor if a fire breaks out. 
  • Storage warehouses – Warehouses don’t have walls or doors to slow the spread of fire, so these expansive spaces would benefit from fire pumps. 
  • Buildings with water storage tanks – If a building has an onsite storage tank for the sprinkler system instead of sourcing water from the city, it will benefit from a fire pump.

What Are the Two Major Types of Fire Pumps?

There are two main types of fire pumps: positive displacement pumps and centrifugal pumps. It’s crucial to select the best type for your facility in order to avoid high costs and unnecessary pressure that can cause damage to your system. 

Positive Displacement Pumps 

Positive displacement pumps produce a flow of water depending upon a specific volume of water per pump revolution. These types of pumps create very high pressure but have limited flow compared to centrifugal pumps. They’re usually only used with water mist or foam-water systems

Centrifugal Pumps 

Centrifugal pumps are found within most fire suppression systems. These pumps develop pressure by the use of centrifugal force or spinning. The water will enter the suction inlet and pass to the center of the impeller. Then the rotation of the impeller will drive the water by centrifugal force to where it will be discharged. 

Centrifugal pumps are known for providing large volumes of water while maintaining high pressure. 

How Often Do You Need Fire Pump Inspections?

If your facility has a sprinkler system supplied by a fire pump, it’s your responsibility to keep your equipment in good working order. If you aren’t experienced in performing the proper fire pump inspections and testing, you can hire a qualified professional. 

When your system isn’t being used, it’s sitting in the “off” position for extended periods of time, which can cause issues to arise. Your fire pump system needs to be tested yearly. You’ll measure water flow and the pump’s hydraulic performance. In between yearly tests, it’s best to test your system weekly. 

For specific testing frequencies required by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), be sure to check out their website.

Fire Solutions With Total Industrial Solutions

Do you need assistance with fire pump testing or installation? At Total Industrial Solutions, we guarantee that any system we install integrates thoroughly and safely into your facility. Our technicians perform inspections, testing, and maintenance on electric and diesel fire pumps so you can be assured that you have the best safety precautions in place. 

Do you work in an industry that you think would benefit from fire solutions and are wondering if fire pumps are right for you? If you work in the oil and gas industry, you might benefit from dry deluge systems. With other testing systems, the use of water can lead to dangerous conditions and damage to expensive equipment. With Siron Dry Deluge Testing, you’ll be guaranteed safer systems, paired with reduced operational downtime, and eliminating the need to flow water on your production and electrical equipment. Contact Total Industrial Solutions today to learn more!