A fire fighting water pump is a special type of water pump designed specifically to provide the necessary flow and pressure for systems such as sprinklers, standpipes or fire hydrants. They are regulated by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) who set standards for installing, operating and maintaining them. Choosing the right size pump for your property requires careful consideration of many factors and an experienced fire protection specialist to ensure code compliance.
One of the most important factors in determining a fire fighting water pump’s capacity is figuring out what system it will be serving. The NFPA recommends that you start with the flow needed for the systems your building or facility will need. This will dictate the system size and how much pressure you’ll need, which in turn will determine the flow rate you need for your pump.
Once you know what the requirements are for your fire protection system, then you can look at your water source, the fire department connection (FDC) and the power availability to determine what kind of pump will work best. The key points to look at are PSI and GPM. PSI refers to the pressure per square inch, or the force of the water coming out of the nozzles, while GPM refers to the amount of water flowing from the hoses.
The nozzles that you use for the system need to be able to handle the gpm flow that you’re going to need. It’s not the pressure that extinguishes a fire, but rather the gpm flow from the nozzle that cools it down and kills the flames. The right nozzles and hoses will make sure that your fire fighting water pump can do what you need it to do.
During operation, your fire fighting water pump will lose some of its pressure due to friction losses in the hoses and fittings. This is caused by the water rubbing against the lining of the hoses and the couplings, as well as itself, which causes it to slow down and reduce the pressure. You can minimize these losses by using high quality hoses and fittings, and by keeping the hose nozzles as close to the fire as possible.
Another factor that can impact your fire fighting water pump’s performance is the water leakage from the underground piping system. This can also affect the flow rate from the piping system and the overall performance of your fire suppression system. To prevent this from happening, you should periodically check the fire protection water piping system for leaks and have any issues fixed promptly.
Once you’ve determined what kind of fire fighting water pump you need and have the hoses, nozzles and water supply lined up, then you’re ready to test out your setup. You’ll want to walk through your entire scenario with a fire safety expert so that you can be confident your system will perform when you need it. Find that Goldilocks sweet spot where it’s not too much or too little, and you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that your property is protected from fire.