The fire water pump is the heart of any water-based fire protection system and it plays a vital role in extinguishing fires and keeping firefighters safe on the scene. Its performance and reliability depend on how it is designed, installed and tested. The fire water pump is not only critical to the overall operation of any water-based fire safety system but also a key factor in meeting local and global fire codes.
The size of a fire water pump depends on how much water it can produce, how fast and where it will be used. The first step is to determine the required water flow rate which can be determined by hydrant-flow test data or local fire codes. The next step is to compare this water flow requirement with the available source pressure, which can be determined by a hydrant-flow test or from a building’s pressure data.
If the flow requirements can be met with the existing source pressure, then no fire pump is needed. However, if the available pressure is lower than the required pressure, then a fire pump is needed to increase the water pressure.
A fire pump is powered by an electric motor or a diesel engine. The type of power used will determine its gpm capacity and discharge pressure. Diesel engines are commonly used because they provide more horsepower than an electric motor and are very portable.
It is important to inspect the suction strainer of a fire pump and ensure that it remains submerged in the water. Internal marine growth such as algae, aquatic weeds and zebra mussels can slow the pump performance or lead to system failure and safety issues.