Jun 06 2018

Monthly Fire Pump Test

Category: BlogBKeyes @ 12:00 am
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Q: I have always tested my fire pumps on a weekly basis, but now I’ve heard from a consultant there is a new standard that says only a monthly run is required. Is this true?

A: Yes, it is. With the adoption of the 2012 Life Safety Code, the 2011 edition of NFPA 25 is now the standard to use regarding inspection, testing and maintenance of sprinkler systems. Section 8.3.1.2 of NFPA 25-2011 now allows electric-motor driven fire pumps to be tested under no-flow conditions on a monthly basis rather than weekly, which was required under previous editions of NFPA 25. However, engine-driven fire pumps still must be tested weekly.

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Mar 04 2016

Removal of a Fire Pump

Category: BlogBKeyes @ 12:00 am
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Q: Recently, I was at a counter-part’s facility in our corporate system and wanted to review the Life Safety Code documentation to ensure everything was in order. Within a matter of minutes I realized there was no fire pump paperwork and asked my counterpart about the matter. I was told that the fire pumps were removed: I was shocked. The reason for removing the fire pumps was because they were told by the city that if they had enough pressure on the top floor of their facility to run the suppression system, then they didn’t need a pump. The reasoning for this increase in pressure was due to an expansion of the water mains leading into the facility. I have never heard of this before! Have you ever heard of such a thing? How would the hospital be able to ensure that at any given time the pressure wouldn’t fluctuate and decrease?

A: I have heard of situations where the supply of the fire protection water changes, and the fire pump could be removed, but if what your counterpart is telling you is the full story, then I would advise them to take further action. The need for a fire pump in any building is not determined solely by the pressure of the water. There are multiple factors that must be considered in NFPA 13 that arrives at the decision whether a fire pump is required, and the volume and flow rate of water are a big part of the equation. Proper procedure would be to have the entire fire protection system water supply recalculated by a registered Professional Engineer to determine if the fire pump could be removed. For the hospital to make a major change in their fire protection based on the comment of a single authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) is very irresponsible.

Once the design of the system calculates that the fire pump could be removed, then permission must be obtained from all of the AHJs that inspect the hospital for fire safety, such as:

  • State fire marshal
  • State department of public health
  • Local fire inspector
  • Accreditation organization
  • CMS
  • Insurance company

Without written authorization granting permission to remove the fire pump from the appropriate AHJs, the hospital is at considerable risk if there should be an unfortunate incident involving the discharge of fire protection water. These AHJs approved the hospital’s fire protection plan based on the presence of a fire pump: To remove the fire pump without allowing these same AHJs the opportunity to make a comment is dangerous and likely unlawful.

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Mar 06 2014

Fire Pump Fire

Category: BlogBKeyes @ 6:00 am
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Fire Pump Fire Web 2A friend of mine contacted me recently and told me that his fire pump caught on fire. It was an engine driven (diesel) fire pump, and I’ll let him describe to you what happened:

“We had a dry pipe system fail in a detached building, due to possibly water trapped in a low point, a tee fitting broke. The dry system activated the fire pump as required,  the pump is located on the ground level of our parking deck. It appears that one of the battery cables shorted out causing a fire on the top end of the diesel driven fire pump. When there was enough heat the fuel line ruptured igniting on the pump.

Our security dept and fire dept. was called, security arrived first and used 4 dry powder extinguishers on the engine, when the fire dept. arrived they finished putting out the fire. A fire watch was instituted throughout the facility and arrangements were made with the fire dept. to connect a pumper truck up to the system until a pump was put back in place. A temporary pump was located, the old pump was removed from the room and the temporary pump was connected until a replacement pump is in place.”

The hospital was able to replace the defective pump with a temporary fire pump within 24 hours of the fire. Fortunately, no one was hurt during the fire, and I have no information on whether or not poor maintenance contributed to this fire, but it may be a reminder for the rest of us that weekly inspections and run tests should not be taken lightly. Complying with NFPA 25 (1998 edition), chapter 5 on fire pump inspection, testing and maintenance is a must…. and it may prevent an unfortunate event like this.

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Do you have an interesting picture of a fire safety issue that you would like to share? Send it to me at info@keyeslifesafety.com along with a description and I will include it in a future post.

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