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What Are The Requirements for Fire Pump Testing?

Did you know NFPA25 requires specific monthly and yearly testing of fire pumps? Make sure your fire protection system is up to code and working properly. 

Wait Back Up, What Is a Fire Pump?

A fire pump is used when the water supply can’t provide enough pressure to meet the hydraulic design requirements of the fire protection system. The pump uses water from an external water source to increase the water flow and pressure. They are typically used in high rise buildings or storage warehouses and can be electric or diesel powered (although for the purposes of this post, we will be focusing on electric powered pumps, which are much more common). According to NFPA 25, fire pumps must be tested on both a monthly and annual basis to ensure that they will perform as designed.  These two different tests are referred to as a monthly “churn” test and an annual flow test.

Annual Fire Pump Flow Test

The fire pump flow test is required by NFPA 25 to be conducted once a year in order to measure the pump’s flow and pressure. The test should be performed by attaching hoses to the discharge test header. The hoses are run to a safe location where the flow of water will cause no damage. Pressure readings are taken as the pump is run through its various stages. At Capitol Sprinkler, the results are recorded and plotted on a graph by our engineering department. These test results are compared to the factory specifications and the test results from previous years. If there is a significant reduction in the pump’s performance, further examination is needed to make the necessary repairs.

Monthly Fire Pump Churn (aka No Flow) Test

The 2011 Edition of NFPA 25 requires electric motor driven fire pumps to be operated monthly. Recently, the FDNY has been enforcing this code more strictly. The monthly churn test requires electric powered pumps to be tested as follows:

  • Run pump for a minimum of 10 minutes.
  • Record the system suction & discharge pressure gauge readings.
  • Check the pump packing glands for slight discharge.
  • Adjust glands nuts; if neccessary.
  • Check for unusual noise or vibration.
  • Check packing boxes, bearings or pump casing for overheating.
  • Record the pump starting pressure.
  • Interpret results

Fire pumps must be tested on a monthly and yearly basis to ensure that the pump will operate as needed to protect the property and people in the event of a fire.

Featured Image: Fire Pump by Snapper is licensed under CC BY 2.0