How Often Should You Test Your Industrial Fire Pump?

Flow-Tech Industries explains how often you should test your industrial fire pumps.

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As a building owner or facilities manager, you must regularly test your fire pump to make sure it’s ready in an emergency. Your state may legally obligate you to follow the requirements for industrial fire pump testing set by the National Fire Protection Association. Keep in mind that most states have this requirement, and you might find that it is indirectly specified through building codes or a fire code. As you know, some states or jurisdictions may not adopt the newest edition of the NFPA 25 or have additional requirements. Therefore, it’s your responsibility to check your local guidelines often to prevent an accidental violation.

National Fire Protection Association Annual Testing Requirements

The 2017 NFPA 25: Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems states that you must test your industrial fire pump every year with a flow test. If you’re a veteran facilities manager, you probably know that this requirement has remained standard for each edition of the NFPA 25. Due to the rarity of fire pump flow tests, you may want to consider hiring an expert contractor to conduct one.

The NFPA does issue a publication of frequently asked questions that tackle how to administer and interpret certain fire pump tests. For example, this year’s publication explains what to do if your fire pump’s peak performance was slightly less than the annual acceptance test results.

Additional Fire Pump Testing Requirements

While the annual fire pump flow test is important, you still need to commit to additional tests to ensure your pump’s reliability. When the NFPA was first drafted, you were responsible for conducting a weekly no-flow test for your fire pump as well. That standard persisted for 15 years. However, as electric-driven fire pumps became more common, the NFPA decided to amend these guidelines.

The 2017 NFPA continues with the 2014 edition guidelines for your fire pump. If your building has a diesel pump, conduct an operating test every week. If you have an electric-driven fire pump, you may be able to test once a month. Consult the official NFPA 25 for more information. However, if your building is a high rise or has a vertical turbine, or your pump is fitted with a limited service controller, a weekly operating test is still required. Conduct a risk assessment to decide if you should recommend more frequent testing.

When conducting a weekly operating test, verify that the pump runs regularly for the fully allotted time, and has normal suction and discharge pressure. Observe the pump to make sure there aren’t any vibrations, unusual noises or overheating around the pump case, bearings or packing box.

  Possible Changes to 2020 NFPA 25 Testing Requirements

Concerns over water waste in areas of drought prompted the technical committee drafting the 2017 NFPA 25 to authorize further research into the fire pump testing requirements. A task force will submit information regarding water usage to the committee responsible for drafting the 2020 NFPA 25. Under particular scrutiny is the annual flow test requirement, which critics say wastes substantial water. Therefore, consult the new edition standard for any possible changes, especially if you live in an area suffering a drought.

Every three years, the National Fire Protection association sets the legal requirements for industrial fire pump testing, so it’s important to review your state’s testing obligations regularly. Of course, the standards set by the NFPA are just minimums, so you can choose to test your fire pumps more often should your building risk assessment require it.

For more information on Industrial Fire Pumps and Fluid Handling Equipment, please call 713-690-7474 or use our Contact Form.

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4601 South Pinemont, Suite 100
Houston, Texas 77041

Phone: 713.690.7474
Fax: 713.690.7979
3850 Pheasant
Orange, Texas 77630

Phone: 409.882.0306
Fax: 409.882.0254
E-mail: [email protected] or [email protected]

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