Fire pump Testing Requirements

Fire Pump Testing Requirements
Things To Know

Fire pumps are crucial aspects of most fire sprinkler systems. Without a working fire pump, sprinkler systems may not have the pressure required to function properly, which could be disastrous in the case of an emergency. For this reason, it is paramount that regular fire pump testing is conducted to ensure safety and adherence to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidelines. Common problems with fire pumps include excessive leaking, corrosion, build-up, and low pressure. That’s why keeping fire pumps regularly maintained and inspected is important.  We make keeping up with Fire Pump Testing Requirements a breeze.

Knowing how often testing should occur is the vital first step. Fire pumps should be tested weekly, monthly, and annually, with different requirements for each.

  • Inspection of pump house/room
  • Inspection of pump system conditions
  • Inspection of electrical system conditions
  • No-flow (churn) test (diesel fire pumps and certain electric pumps)
  • No-flow (churn) test (Electric fire pumps)
  • Inspection of the pump operation and flow test

Generally speaking, no-flow tests (often referred to as “churn tests”) should be conducted weekly for diesel engine-driven fire pumps and monthly for many electric fire pumps. Flow tests, on the other hand, should be administered yearly to ensure fire pumps are ready to respond in critical moments.

Diesel engine-driven fire pumps and certain electric fire pumps are required by the NFPA 25–the standard for inspection, testing, and maintenance of water-based systems–to be inspected and tested weekly. However, it should be noted that both periods can potentially be extended based on approved risk analysis.

According to section 8.3.1.2.1 of the 2023 edition of the NFPA 25, the electric fire pumps that are required to be tested weekly are as follows:

  1. Fire pumps that serve fire protection systems in buildings that are beyond the pumping capacity of the fire department
  2. Fire pumps with limited service controllers
  3. Verticle turbine fire pumps
  4. Fire pumps taking suction from ground level tanks or a water source that does not provide sufficient pressure to be of material value without a pump

The NFPA differentiates between inspection, which only requires visual observations to ensure the fire pump appears to be in proper working order, and testing, which is essential for determining the pump’s ability to maintain pressure and flow.

In addition to weekly visual inspections which require an examination of the pump house/room, pump system conditions, and electrical system conditions, electric fire pumps not specified in section 8.3.1.2.1 are required to undergo no-flow (or churn) tests.

Unless conducting a remotely monitored automated test in accordance with NFPA 25, qualified personnel are required to be in attendance while conducting no-flow (churn) testing.

Annual flow testing is an exhaustive test of a fire pump’s capabilities. It is conducted yearly to ensure the fire pump is fully capable when needed. The annual flow test tasks the pump with operating at extreme conditions, so again, qualified professionals are required to attend. Additionally, safety precautions such as wearing protective gear, testing in properly ventilated areas, and using hoses that have passed a service test within the last year are paramount.

Quick Things to Know According to the NFPA 25 (2023 edition)

  • Qualified personnel are required to be in attendance when the pump is operational
    • The electric pump needs to run for a minimum of 10 minutes
    • The diesel pump needs to run for a minimum of 30 minutes
  • A pressure difference greater than 95% of the rated pressure needs to be investigated and corrected

Regular no-flow testing is a vital part of ensuring fire pumps can be relied upon. Essentially, no-flow tests ensure fire pumps will start and not overheat. Again, these tests are required to be conducted weekly or monthly depending on the type of fire pump.

Quick Things to Know According to the NFPA 25 (2023 edition)

  • Qualified personnel are required to conduct testing and be in attendance when the pump is operational
    • Constant speed pump assemblies need to be tested under no-flow, rated flow, and at 150% of the pump rated capacity flow of the fire pump
    • Variable-speed pump assemblies need to be tested under no-flow, 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%, 125%, and 150% of the rated pump capacity flow of the fire pump

As with no-flow (churn) tests, annual flow tests require qualified personnel as this assessment is designed to evaluate the fire pump in extreme conditions. Also, it’s important to note that the fire pump will be taken offline during the testing period.

The NFPA also requires the use of highly accurate and recently calibrated testing equipment to ensure flow test results can be trusted. You may even want backup equipment on hand in case of malfunction.

The NFPA calls for the fire pump controller to be factory-calibrated and brought within 3%. Devices such as gauges and transducers should be calibrated at least annually within 1%. Likewise, flow meters should be calibrated yearly and within 3%.

Fire pump test results should be no less than 95% of the flow rates and pressures as stated on the nameplate. Again, only qualified individuals are tasked with interpreting the results, but it is the responsibility of the property owner to maintain records of any fire pump testing such as dates and results.

Fire Pump Testing Requirements FAQ

Overall, fire pump systems play a crucial role in protecting property and saving lives by swiftly responding to fires and effectively extinguishing them before they can cause significant damage or harm.Making sure your fire pump systems are up to date is essential to prevent disaster from taking place. Don’t wait, and test them!

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