Fire fighting pumps are needed to provide sufficient water pressure to the fire sprinklers in high-rise buildings or in systems that require a relatively high terminal pressure at the fire sprinkler in order to flow large volumes of water. Fire pumps may be powered by electricity or diesel, and they can be designed for transportable use (as integrated or front-mounted fire truck pumps) or for stationary systems such as hydrants.
Deciding which pump and system to use should be discussed with a design engineer or a fire safety professional. The local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) should also be consulted for approval of the facility’s hydraulic design and the fire protection system installation.
The type of fire fighting pump is determined by the hydraulic design requirements for the facility, the maximum water discharge pressure of the fire hoses and the operating pressure of the engine. Typically, the minimum pump discharge pressure in the field should be 250 psi.
Whether an electric or diesel fire pump is chosen, it is critical to keep the engine cool and fuel topped up. Fire fighting pumps must be regularly inspected and tested, as per the manufacturer’s recommended schedule. It is important to keep in mind that the electrical fire fighting pump has a much longer maintenance schedule than the diesel variety due to its battery-powered function, which needs to be charged regularly.
It is also a good idea to check the fire pump cooling system on a regular basis for leaks and water flow. This will ensure the pump can be easily started in the event of an emergency and that it is running at the rated nozzle pressure and rate-of-flow capacity.