February 23, 2018
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How Fire Pumps Work

Without a doubt, a firefighting system is one of the most vital services in any residential or commercial structure. The aim of this system is to effectively protect human lives & property. These systems are made up of three basic parts:

  • Large water storage tanks- these could either be on top of the building/underground; they are referred to as the fire storage tanks.
  • Special, customized pumping system.
  • Massive network of pipes that end either in sprinklers or hydrants (most buildings have both these components).

In this blog we are taking a closer look at how fire pumps work; but in order to understand that, we need to also have some understanding about how all the different components of the broader fire system work together.

Fire system-the working

A fire hydrant is the vertical steel pipe (standpipe) that has an outlet and two fire hoses are stored close to it. In the event of a fire, the firefighters go to that outlet and break open the hoses. One will be attached to the outlet and it will be manually opened. This allows the water to gush out of the hose nozzle.

The speed and quantity of the water is so massive that unless the firefighter is standing in the right manner, it can knock the hoes right out of his hand. As soon as the hydrant is opened by the fire fighter, the water gushes out and this drop in pressure is detected by the sensors and it triggers the fire pump to get activated- they start to pump water at a very high flow rate.

About fire pumps and how they work

  • Fire pumps are generally housed inside a pump room that is in close proximity to the fire tanks.
  • It’s crucial that these pumps are located at a level that is just below the bottom of your fire tanks; it ensures that all the water inside the tanks will flow into the pumps by the force of gravity.
  • Like all vital systems, you need backup pumps in case there is a malfunction or failure of the main pump.
  • The main pump runs on electricity; a backup pump also runs on electricity and there is also another backup pump that is powered by diesel in case the building’s electrical supply gets disrupted.
  • Each of these fire pumps has an identical capacity and can individually pump the amount of water required, in case of a fire breakout.
  • The fourth type of pump is called the jockey pump. This is a much smaller pump that’s attached to the firefighting system which switches on to ensure the correct pressure is maintained in the distribution system continually. In case any small leakage is detected somewhere in your firefighting system, this pump will quickly switch on to compensate for it. The jockey pump will also have a proper backup.

Pressure sensors for pressure pumps

All fire pumps are controlled by pressure sensors. Once the fire fighters open the hydrant or even if the sprinkler system comes on in your building, the water will gush out of the system and as mentioned before, there will be a drop in the water pressure. Your system’s pressure sensors detect this drop and they switch the different fire pumps on.

However, the only want in which the fire pump can be switched off is that a fire fighter handle this manually from the pump room. This is a standard code of practice that’s specifically designed to ensure the pumps don’t get switched off because of any malfunction in the main control system.

For your safety, ask a professional for advice about the type of fire pump you should get installed on your property.

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