What Is A Fire Pump?
Fire pumps are required when the local municipal water system cannot provide adequate pressure to meet the hydraulic demands of the fire sprinkler, fire hydrant and fire hose reel systems. This typically occurs if the building is tall, such as in high-rise buildings, or in systems that need to flow a large volume of water, such as in storage warehouses. Pumps are also needed if the fire systems are supplied from a water storage tank.
Why Do Buildings Have Fire Pumps?
The Building Code of Australia volume 1 parts E1.3, E1.4 and E1.5 detail the mandatory requirement for fire pumps to be provided in various classes of buildings.
Where Should Fire Pumps Be Located?
AS2304 standards provides the water storage requirements for fire protection and set out the minimum requirements for the design, construction, installation, commissioning and maintenance of bolted steel circular and rectangular water tanks for the storage of water for fire protection systems. This Standard also provides guidance on water sources and qualities that influence tank design and construction, together with water conservation measures.
Fire pumps are usually housed in a pump room as close as practicable to the source of water supply. It is required that; adequate security is provided to prevent unauthorised entry, heating is provided to ensure the room temperature remains above 4 degrees Celsius, adequate signage to ensure emergency responders can locate the pump room in a timely manner, adequate internal space to allow maintenance and fully enclosed construction that is properly weatherproofed.
Maintenance, Inspection & Testing
Western Australia’s building legislation requires owners of Class 2 to Class 9 buildings (which includes residential apartments) to ensure the building’s firefighting services and equipment are maintained. This is to ensure that safety systems remain capable of performing to a standard not less than they were originally required and commissioned to achieve.
How Does A Fire Pump Operate?
The pumps are controlled by pressure sensors. When a firefighter opens a hydrant, when a sprinkler activates or a hose reel is used, water gushes out of the system and the pressure drops.
The pressure sensors will detect this drop and automatically switch the fire pumps on. The only way to switch off a fire pump is for a firefighter to do this manually in the pump room.