Diesel Fire Pump Testing & Startup – Part II

steven brown & associates logoFire pump testing and startup procedures don’t have to be a mystery. At Steven Brown & Associates, we’ve developed a lot of information on this popular topic over the years, and that was the inspiration behind our two-part blog series. Part one was about electric fire pump testing and startup, and today we dive into diesel fire pump testing and startup.

Following these guides will help you to avoid unnecessary and wasteful job site costs caused by improper fire pump testing procedures, and what business couldn’t use a little extra money in the account as the year comes to a close?

Diesel Fire Pump Startup Checklist

  1. Verify all equipment received is exactly what was ordered and has no damage caused during shipping.
  2. Installation of all pumps and controls to be per NFPA20, NFPA70, NEC Article 695, and UL 142.
  3. Unit is properly mounted and secured on a pad. If the pump and engine alignment has been verified, the base may be filled with non-shrink grout.
  4. Water supply lines properly flushed in accordance with NFPA 20.
  5. Suction piping arrangement meets NFPA20 standards based on the type of pump being installed. (Including but not limited to, potential of straight run prior to entering the pump, eccentric reducer flat side up, OS&Y valves only on suction, etc)
  6. All wiring between the engine and controller is complete and properly sized per the instructions on the inside of the fire pump controller door. Stranded wire must be used. 120 volt power brought to the fire pump controller and a separate power source hard wired to the engine block heater. Low fuel level switch mounted in the diesel fuel tank and wired to the fire pump controller. If louvers are being wired to the engine run contact be sure they meet the required max amperage rating of the fire pump controller. Do not energize any circuits prior to the arrival of the Pump/Engine/Controller representative.
  7. All pump accessories and drains are installed. This includes the air release valve, gauges, packing drip drains, and heat exchanger discharge piped to a floor drain or frost-free location.
  8. Exhaust piping and muffler properly installed, secured and insulated. Exhaust termination is screened and/or properly protected.
  9. Diesel fuel tank is properly pitched (1/4” per foot away from the supply valve) and filled with the correct fuel. Fuel lines pipe in schedule 40 black iron only. All vent piping properly installed and terminated outside.
  10. Jockey pump is properly wired per the nameplate voltage on the motor and controller.
  11. All control panel sensing lines installed in accordance with NFPA20.
  12. All appropriate remote alarms are connected to the fire pump controller. The fire pump representative will be responsible for scheduling the diesel engine representative, as well as the controller representative. Battery electrolyte will be provided the morning of the test.

When it comes to testing diesel fire pumps, you should be performing these tests weekly.

Diesel Fire Pump Testing Procedure

  1. Call the alarm company and tell them to put the system on test for the next hour or so. Explaining to them you will be closing some valves and running the pump.
  2. Close the main discharge valve of the fire pump, which should prevent any water hammer on the system.
  3. Turn the jockey pump controllers’ selector switch to the off position.
  4. At this point the fire pump controllers’ selector switch should be in the “auto” position and the engine should be ready to run. The next step is to drop pressure off the sensing line located on the side of the controller by opening the ball valve and allowing enough water to escape to start the engine. The engine will start and the pump will run. It is very important to verify that the cooling loop is discharging water into the floor drain. Let the engine/pump run for 15 minutes. During this run time it is a good idea to adjust the packing on the fire pump, record the suction and discharge readings, and record the rpm’s of the engine. After 15 minutes turn the selector switch to the “off” position, the engine should shut down.
  5. The next method of starting the pump is a “manual start”. To accomplish, the selector switch must be placed in the manual position. Once the switch is placed in manual you will notice the cooling loop will open and discharge water into floor drain. By pushing either the battery 1 or battery 2 buttons the engine/pump will run. Once the engine has run for 15 minutes turn the selector switch to the “off” position.
  6. At this point you have completed running the pump for the 30 minutes which is required by NFPA 20 every week.
  7. With the fire pump controller in the off position, turn the jockey pump controller back to the auto position and open the main control valve on the fire pump. If there was any drop in the system pressure the jockey pump may run. Once the jockey pump has stopped running you may then place the fire pump controller back into the auto position, by turning the selector switch to “auto”.

Please note that with both the startup checklist and the fire pump testing procedure guide, you must not operate any equipment unless you’re properly trained and qualified to do so. Always wear protective equipment, and follow the latest procedures set forth in local and national codes like the NFPA 25, Chapter 8.

If you have any problems while following this guide, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you troubleshoot. You can reach our team at Steven Brown & Associates by calling 302-652-4722.