Fire pump testing is conducted as part of the test of a building’s fire sprinkler system. This critical component of a fire sprinkler’s system provides water to the system. When pressure in the sprinkler system drops, or when a fire sprinkler nozzle is exposed to heat, the pump opens and releases water into the system.
One part of the fire pump are the controllers. These controllers are control panels that contain electrical components like switches, relays, circuit breakers, etc. These electronic devices are important as they receive signals from alarm devices, activate motor control devices to provide power to motors that drive fire pumps, and monitor fire pump operation and performance.
The dangers of testing the fire pump involve older systems that house the fire pump in a cabinet. The hazard lies in opening this cabinet to get a reading of the fire pump, namely the danger of an arc flash. Techs inspecting these fire pumps are also often standing in water, making for an even more dangerous situation.
This new code change eliminates testing the electrical system in fire pumps. The change will set forth a commonsense protocol to determine if the pump is working without needing to test the electrical system. This process or protocol involves the following steps:
- Perform flow test with a pass-fail designation to ensure the mechanical and electrical systems are working
- If the pump fails the flow test, the inspector reviews the mechanical system for issues
- If the mechanical system is fine, the inspector can pinpoint the fire pump as the problem. In this case, the inspector must have a certified electrician present when working on the fire pump.