How to Select Fire Pumps


A fire pump is an important component in many building sprinkler systems. The pump provides a higher level of water pressure than most municipal water systems and can often be found in high rises or buildings that use well water as part of their sprinkler system. Fire pumps take in water and provide it to sprinkler pipes at the correct pressure, which helps to put out fires more quickly and effectively. To ensure a fire pump will function correctly, however, it is important to choose the right unit for the job. Buyers should consider factors such as design, power source and system compatibility to find the best fire pump to meet their needs.

  • Check the brand name and system compatibility. Many fire pump and sprinkler manufacturers have their own proprietary systems, many of which are not interchangeable. When selecting a fire pump, make sure it will work with your existing control system, as well as you sprinkler piping and other equipment.

  • Review flow rates. The flow rate on a fire pump is measured in gallons per minute (GPM). The GPM needed for your building is determined by local building codes, as well as the system designer. Check the sprinkler plans for your building to see what flow rate is required.

  • Determine what pressure is needed. The amount of water pressure supplied by a fire pump is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). The PSI for your building will depend on the PSI of the municipal water supply, as well as on the sprinkler designs for your system. Consult the building's sprinkler plans to determine what PSI is needed.

  • Consider the pump design. Fire pumps are often designated as "horizontal case" or "vertical case, " which refers to the orientation of the metal casing around the pump. If you have a small storage space for this pump, choose a vertical case. If ceiling space is limited, choose a horizontal case. Make sure to confirm the size and shape of each unit to ensure it will fit in your mechanical or engine room.

  • Think about how the pump will be powered. Fire pumps can be electrically-powered, or powered by diesel engines or steam turbines. Choose a unit that can be tied to your existing power supply.

  • Decide if you'll need a rotary or centrifugal unit. Rotary pumps are the more traditional type of fire pump, and can only be used with single-stage sprinkler systems (where one water pressure rating will work for the entire building). If you need a multi-stage (multiple water pressures) unit, choose a centrifugal pump.

  • Evaluate maintenance requirements. Check how the pump is configured to make sure you'll have easy access to all gauges and adjustment devices. Look for split-casings, which allow part of the casing to be easily opened and generally provide better access than non-split casings.

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