Dec 2010

Fire/Booster Pump Testing

The term fire pump is often used to describe both a fire pump and a booster pump. While the pumps themselves can be the same in both instances, the terms describe different arrangements. A fire pump takes suction from a private water supply such as a reservoir or tank. A booster pump takes suction from the city water supply. Since testing requirements for pumps themselves are the same in both instances, just the word pump will be used to cover both of these arrangements for this article.

Both FM Global and NFPA have long required both electric and diesel pumps used for fire protection to be started automatically on a weekly basis. There have been differences in these tests. For instance, diesel pumps should be run for 30 minutes while electric pumps only need to be run for 10 minutes. Also, diesel pumps have several additional items that need to be checked on the driver or engine itself.

In the 2011 Edition of NFPA 25, Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-based Fire Protection Systems, The frequency for testing electric pumps has been relaxed to a monthly frequency. However, the basic requirements for the test and the 10 min. run time remain the same. The requirement to run diesel pumps for 30 minutes has been kept on a weekly frequency.

The most recent edition of FM Global Data Sheet 2-81, Fire Protection System Inspection, was released in January 2008. This data sheet still requires both diesel and electric fire pumps to be run on a weekly basis. The diesel pumps should also be run for 30 minutes and electric pumps should be run for 10 minutes. A change in NFPA’s testing requirements does not mean that FM Global will make a similar change in their next edition of their standard.

Both standards do still require that fire pumps be fully flow tested annually. It is common to test the pump at churn or no flow, at 100% flow, and at 150% flow. This is a performance test of the pump to help ensure that it still operates as designed.

Thus, if you use NFPA standards and have a diesel pump, the testing frequencies have remained unchanged from previous versions. However, if you use NFPA standards and have an electric pump, then you would be allowed to relax the frequency of running the pump to a monthly frequency. If you are already testing your electric pump weekly and wish to continue that frequency, then that is considered acceptable as you would still be meeting the requirements of the monthly test. If you use FM Global standards at your facility, then the requirements for running both diesel and electric pumps remains on a weekly frequency. No matter what type of pump you have or the standards that you follow, your pump should still be fully flow tested annually.

Risk Logic can help you determine what tests on what intervals should be done for the fire protection systems at your facility. Please feel free to contact us for additional information.