It’s essential for a fire pump to work in an emergency situation. That’s why it’s there! That means supplying power to that pump is paramount, especially when the primary source of power fails and you need to make sure that back-up power for your fire pump(s) kicks in.

Navigating the requirements for fire pumps can seem super complicated. Because they are so important and it’s so essential that they work properly, they are subject to many national and international codes including those that involve installation, electric, safety, and – of course – those that involve emergency and standby systems.

First, however, let’s understand what a fire pump is and how it operates.

Fire pumps are essential to a building’s fire protection system, especially in high-rise buildings where fighting a fire can be very tricky. When buildings are more than about 400-feet-tall, a fire pump works to distribute water through sprinkler systems in places where pressure from water mains and firefighting equipment cannot reach. Fire pumps are also important in low-rise buildings and can often be key to fighting a fire and assisting firefighters in containing a blaze.

A fire pump is part of a fire sprinkler system. In order for it to operate, it receives water from a water tank, a lake, or an underground water supply of some sort. The high pressure supplied by the pump distributes water through the sprinkler system and/or to hose standpipes. It operates via electricity or diesel fuel.

Pumps are installed by fire safety professionals, often during the building phase of a structure, but can be added or replaced later, of course. Because there are so many codes governing their use and installation, only qualified, trained, and licensed personnel should be involved in fire pump installations, repairs, and inspections.

Fire pumps are normally very efficient. But what happens if there’s a power outage and the primary source of power goes off?

According to both Canadian and international building code laws, there must be an alternate power source for a building’s primary fire pump if the building’s height exceeds the reach of fire department equipment. Obviously, this is essential for the safety of those living or working inside the structure that’s being protected by the pump.

Often, this alternate power source is a standby generator system. However, not just any standby system is sufficient in this case. This back-up power system MUST have a large enough capacity to carry not only the full load of the fire pump but also other emergency loads that it might have to shoulder. Laws also state that the back-up generator must be able to support the fire pump auxiliary system (sometimes called the “jockey pump”) and have a fuel supply that provides the main pump with 8 hours of continuous operation.

Shopping for a back-up power supply

If you need to install a new generator or replace an old one that can support your fire pump should there be an interruption to your primary power supply, you’ll want to make sure you find both a supplier and an installer that understand all the many rules that apply to such machinery. Chances are you may have already consulted with your local fire marshal about the fire pump, its location, and the need for back-up power.

Next, you’ll want to speak to the experts about back-up power, like the professionals at Western Oil Services. At Western, we’ve been energy-handling specialists for nearly three-quarters of a century, interacting with a variety of industries that have an abundance of different energy needs. That means our knowledge is vast and we’re eager to share that information with you as you gather details about back-up power for fire pumps.

For more information on our products and services, call us at 604-514-4787.