What Facility Managers Need To Know About Fire Pump Engine Maintenance

What Facility Managers Need To Know About Fire Pump Engine Maintenance

The fire sprinkler system protecting your property is one of the most critical safety features of your building. Most facilities managers know that fire protection is required by most building codes and must pass city or county inspection before a building can be occupied.

However, there is one piece of your fire protection system that must undergo frequent testing and inspection: the fire pump engine. This part of your sprinkler system is deemed so critical that its installation and maintenance is regulated by The National Fire Protection Agency Code 20 (NFPA 20).

Failure to maintain your fire pump engine can result in fines and penalties. More importantly, it can put your tenants at risk, and in life lost in a fire due to improper fire pump engine upkeep can cost a building owner over $1 million.

What is a Fire Pump?

A fire pump is the primary pressure-driving mechanism used in a fire protection system. Every fire pump is driven by a fire pump engine, which can be an electric motor, a diesel engine, or even steam power. It is required to create increases in water pressure as per the design specifications of your fire protection system. Fire pumps create pressure that taps into an existing water—such as your municipal water supply or a water tank—and converts mechanical energy into hydraulic energy.

Fire pumps are necessary when the water supply available does not generate the necessary hydraulic pressure required to meet demand of a fire protection system such as automatic sprinklers and standpipes, or even foam systems. An example would be a high-rise building where the pressure from a city supply line is not great enough to overcome gravity to reach the top of the building.

In this instance, installing a fire pump is done to provide a boost to get the necessary pressure to the top. It is important to remember to have a steady supply of water so that the fire pump may operate correctly.

The Most Common Problems Facing Fire Pump Engines

These are the most common maintenance issues you’ll face with your fire pump engine (or fire pump motor):

The fire pump engine does not start

Sometimes a fire pump motor will fail to start. This is usually due to a poor connection in the power plug, or a bad contact in the switch.

There is insufficient flow in the fire pump engine

When there is insufficient flow in the fire pump engine, it’s likely because the lift is too high, the pipeline is too long, or the pipeline has a right-angle bend. It’s also important to check the filter screen in the pipeline for any possible blockage.

The fire pump motor is overheating

This is the most common problem facing fire pump engines. There are usually four reasons this is happening:

  1. There’s too much pressure on the packing gland or the mechanical spring seal
  2. Exceeding the flow range more than the fire pump is designed for
  3. The pump assembly is poorly constructed
  4. The fire pump cannot circulate water

The fire pump motor fails to circulate water

If your diesel engine emergency fire pump motor fails to circulate water, it could be because there is air in the pump body, or there is air accumulation in the water inlet pipe. The most common maintenance for this problem is to remove the air from the system, then fill the body of the system with water. The problem could also be a loose check valve or air leakage in the pipeline joints. Additionally, the oil seal ring of the pump should be checked for wear and replaced if necessary.

Who Maintains the Fire Pump Engine For a Fire Sprinkler Safety System?

An ESGA-certified technician should be the professional maintaining your fire pump engine. At Electro-Motion, we have 50 years of experience designing custom maintenance plans for any backup power system, on just about any budget. We don’t maintain our clients’ fire sprinkler systems, but we do maintain their fire pump engines and generators.

All our maintenance is performed by ESGA-certified technicians with a minimum of 100 hours of safety and skills training per year. Our techs are available 24/7, with a maximum two-hour response time for emergencies.

Schedule a consultation with us today!

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