Fire pumps are critical parts of a building’s fire protection system, particularly in high-rise buildings. In buildings taller than 400 feet, fire pumps are vital in distributing water through the sprinkler tank and systems where water pressure from mains and fire fighting equipment cannot reach.
Even in older buildings, a fire pump is essential for fire suppression. Even with all the necessary equipment and precautions, firefighting is inherently a dangerous business. But, without a well-designed and professionally installed system and pump, it becomes even more dangerous, putting live and corporate assets at risk.
How Does a Fire Pump Work?
A fire pump is an important component of a fire sprinkler system because it allows high-pressure water to enter the system, boosting the flow rate.
It’s crucial to understand what a fire pump is before learning how it works. A fire pump is made up of the motor – or driver – and the controller, in addition to the pump itself. A fire pump receives water from an underground supply, a water tank, lake, or reservoir, and is powered by electricity or diesel fuel as part of a fire sprinkler system. These components combine to deliver high enough pressure for water to be distributed throughout the sprinkler system.
The horizontal split case, vertical split case, vertical in-line, and vertical turbine are all common types of fire pumps.
The horizontal split case is the most popular style of fire pump and is most cost-effective for higher-flow applications. These pumps are simple to repair or maintain, giving them an extended lifespan, while a wide range of sizes add to their appeal.
Vertical split case fire pumps are extremely similar to horizontal split case fire pumps, with the exception that they take up less space due to their vertical construction. This protects the pump from flooding.
The vertical in-line pump is a single-stage centrifugal pump designed for vertical installation, as the name implies. This pump offers a steady flow of water throughout the system and is perfect for tiny spaces because its suction and delivery are inline. The pump must be removed for any repairs or maintenance due to the design.
The vertical turbine is a centrifugal pump used in firefighting applications where the water supply is underground. There are several varieties of fire pumps, including oil-lubricated enclosed-line-shaft pumps and water-lubricated open-line-shaft pumps.
The design engineer, a fire safety professional, and the Local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) should all be consulted when deciding which pump is best for a certain facility.
Installing and Maintaining Fire Pumps
Installation and maintenance of any fire system, including deciding which pump and system to employ, should be done by fire safety professionals. There are numerous factors to consider according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the International Building Code (IBC), which are revised on a regular basis.
Though trained personnel can perform weekly inspections, monthly, annual, and subsequent inspections and maintenance should be performed by qualified personnel. These include factory-trained and certified personnel, personnel certified by a national recognised fire protection organisation, or personnel registered, licenced, or certified by a state or local authority.
Fire Pumps in Your Building
In many structures, a fire pump is an essential piece of fire and life-safety equipment. Prior to the installation of any unit, there are several needs and aspects to consider. To ensure a well-planned and compliant final installation, the building owner, architect, engineer, local fire marshal, and fire protection provider should all engage in the pump and system conversation.