Fire Pump Testing & Startup – Part I

As thesteven brown & associates logo Mid-Atlantic region’s trusted source for fire pump sales and service, we’re often asked about fire pump testing and startup procedures. This was the inspiration behind the two part blog series we’re starting today, and it begins with electric fire pumps. Part two of this series will cover diesel fire pumps, so keep an eye on our blog if that will be of interest to you.

Following this guide will help you to avoid unnecessary and wasteful job site costs caused by improper fire pump testing procedures.

Electric 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, and NEC Article 695. This includes the incoming power service that will supply the pumps.
  3. Verify onsite voltage compliance prior to installing the equipment:
    1. Confirm that the equipment ordered is the same voltage present at the site for pump use. You may have to consult with the onsite electrician.
    2. Refer to all nameplates provided on each piece of equipment and verify they are correct based on the onsite voltage available.
  4. If there is a disconnect switch switch ahead of the fire pump controller, confirm it is sized per the requirements of NFPA20, NFPA70, and NEC Article 695.
  5. Wiring between the motor and the controller is based on operating voltage of the equipment. Motor nameplate will provide connections if controller being used is Across the Line. In the event that a reduced voltage controller is being used, Steven Brown & Associates will assist with how to wire as this is not always clear on the electrician’s drawings. Feel free to call. ALL PENETRATIONS TO THE CONTROLLERS MUST BE MADE ON EITHER THE BOTTOM OR SIDE OF THE CONTROLLER. DO NOT PENETRATE THE TOP. WIRING MUST BE COMPLETED PRIOR TO STARTUP. DO NOT ALLOW ANYONE TO ENERGIZE EQUIPMENT PRIOR TO OUR ARRIVAL.
  6. For installations where a transfer switch has been provided, verify that the generator start circuit has been connected to the contact provided in the emergency side of the fire pump controller. In the event that the second source of power is a second utility, the start circuit is omitted. VERIFY THAT THE GENERATOR STARTUP HAS BEEN CONDUCTED PRIOR TO SCHEDULING STARTUP OF FIRE PUMP AS THE GENERATOR WILL BE NEEDED TO PERFORM FIRE PUMP TEST.
  7. Verify that the reliable water source being connected to the pumps has been properly flushed prior to doing so.
  8. Verify planned suction piping arrangement meets NFPA20 standards based on the type of pump being installed. (Including but not limited to, potential necessary straight run prior to entering pump, eccentric reducer flat side up, OS&Y valves only on suction side, etc)
  9. Verify that the suction and discharge pipe sizes meet the requirements of NFPA20 Table 4.27(2016) based on the gpm of the pump being installed. If required pipe sizes differ from pump flange sizes, an eccentric reducer must be used on the suction and a concentric increaser must be used on the discharge.
  10. Confirm that all piping and accessories are rated for the amount of pressure expected during pump churn (zero flow).
  11. Verify that the entire pump assembly base is level, has been securely anchored, and that the base is grouted sufficiently with non-shrinkable grout.
  12. Confirm that the jockey pump suction line is piped ahead of the fire pump main OS&Y. Confirm that the discharge of the jockey pump is piped downstream of the main discharge valve of the fire pump.
  13. All pump accessories and drains are to be installed. This includes air release valve, casing relief valve, packing drip drains and valves with gauges. Casing relief valve must be installed between the fire pump discharge flange and the main discharge check valve. This must be piped to a floor drain separate from packing drip drains. Depending on the type of jockey pump being used, a relief valve may or may not need to be installed on the discharge piping between the pump and discharge check valve.
  14. Control panel sensing lines are piped totally independent of each other per NFPA20 and are located on the discharge piping of the pump it is running between the discharge check valve and main discharge control valve. Proper material must be used and two drilled (1 /32”) check valves must be installed on each line no less than 5 feet apart.
  15. Test tee for header is installed after main discharge check and prior to main discharge control valve. Hose valve header to be sized per NFPA20 Table 4.27 (2016) and must have a main control valve installed.

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

Electric Fire Pump Testing Procedure

  1. Call the alarm company and have the system put on test.
  2. Close the main control valve to the system.
  3. Perform manual start of the fire pump by pressing the start button on the fire pump controller.
  4. Verify there is sufficient flow from the 3/4” casing relief valve on the fire pump.
  5. Verify there the fire pump packing gland is properly adjusted.
  6. Record the fire pumps suction and discharge pressures, as well as the volt and amp readings on the fire pump controller.
  7. After 10 minutes push the stop button on the fire pump controller.
  8. Perform an automatic start of the fire pump by relieving pressure from the fire pump sensing line. Verify cooling water. After 10 minutes the controller will shut itself off.
  9. Open the main control valve to the system.
  10. Call the alarm company and have the system placed back in service.

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

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