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Fire Pump Performance Test

Fire Pump
Performance Test (NFPA25)

Fire pumps are complex systems that pose the greatest testing challenges to contractors and field technicians. Unfortunately, many of the people tasked with performing these tests do not have the necessary expertise. As a result, an inspection of a damaged fire pump could miss a serious problem or lead to unnecessary remedial work. The good news is that the necessary skills and knowledge are within the reach of a competent technician. This article highlights important aspects of properly performing an annual fire pump performance test. It is intended to supplement Chapter 8 of the NFPA standard 25 (2020 edition).

Fire pumps must meet the following operational objectives: 
 

  1. Start and run 

  2. Supply  volume and pressure provided in  fire protection system design 

  3. Activate the necessary signals to alert responders 

  4. Continue to operate during the time of the fire. 


Like any mechanical/electrical system that uses its time on standby, the system must be periodically evaluated and tested to ensure that it is not affected by wear, age, and other factors. element. For example, suppose a fire pump fails to meet any of the above performance goals during a fire. In this case, it will not provide an adequate fire protection system; The fire department won't have enough water or both.  


As an owner, your organization has spent a lot of money to install and maintain its fire pump system. However, you expect it to be available when needed, to work flawlessly, and to protect your assets.  


As a contractor, you don't want to see fires at a customer's premises on the evening news after testing their system. With that in mind, treat every performance test as if it were the last before this firefight.

NFPA 25, Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Fighting Systems and many state and local fire codes require that fire pumps be tested for performance annually. This is the most rigorous test that the system has to undergo from commissioning to an actual fire. The purpose of the annual operational inspection is to thoroughly test and evaluate not only the fire pump but the entire fire pump system. As NFPA 25 states, this must be done by "qualified personnel", but the NFPA does not list qualitative criteria for being "qualified".

In addition to properly performing the testing, the interpretation of the test results requires an understanding of hydraulic principles, centrifugal pumps, motors and controllers and is paramount to reach a conclusion as to the overall condition of the fire pump system.

The objectives of the annual performance check are as follows:

 

  1. Compare field measurements with certified pump curves.

  2. Ensure that the fire pump system does not have problems when operating at full load.

  3. Test all ancillary systems to the extent possible in the field.

The proper testing of a fire pump system takes time and preparation. This includes ensuring that all measuring instruments are correctly calibrated. NFPA does not set calibration standards, but industry practice for test instruments is at least annually. In addition, necessary measuring devices, such as smoothbore nozzles, hoses, brackets, and standard hand tools, should be available. One or more assistants may be needed. In addition, qualified personnel are required to perform simple tests on energized electrical systems.

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