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|Emerging Trends in Fire Pump|
Issue 33: Emerging Trends in Fire Pump
By Gayle Pennel
With the advent of taller high rise buildings, and concern that some
of the current design practices do not provide the high level of
reliability needed, NFPA 201 developed specific requirements for fire pumps installed in high rise buildings in the 2010 edition.
High rise buildings that are beyond the pumping capacity of the fire
department must be self-contained and the occupants may need to be
protected in place. This makes the reliability of fire protection
In the current edition of NFPA 14,2 a change was enacted which allows "master" pressure control valves to supply whole standpipe or sprinkler system zones. Currently, NFPA 14 has a pressure limit of 350 psi (2.4 MPa), which limits the applicability of the "master" pressure control valves. There is a proposal to remove the pressure limit for express risers in the next edition of NFPA 14. Currently, fire pumps that develop approximately 250 psi (1.7 MPa) of net pressure are available. If the proposal passes, this will likely lead to pump manufacturers listing fire pumps rated for higher pressures, so that a single fire pump rated for 500 psi (3.4 MPa) or more could be used to supply multiple standpipe or sprinkler zones.
NFPA 20 was also modified to allow variable speed drivers to maintain a pump suction pressure as well as the pump discharge pressure.
Limited service controllers have been a subject of debate for many
years. These controllers are limited to 30 horsepower (22 kW), and were
originally intended to lower the cost of retrofitting schools. Over the
years, additional requirements added to address safety and other
concerns have narrowed the distinction and cost differential between
limited service and full service controllers. Over the past few code
cycles, a proposal to eliminate limited service controllers from NFPA 20
has been rejected by the NFPA 20 committee by a narrower margin each
cycle, until it finally passed in the current (2010) cycle. However,
limited service controllers were restored the 2010 edition by floor
action at the NFPA Annual Meeting. This issue will most likely be
considered again in the 2013 NFPA 20 cycle.
Gayle Pennel is with Schirmer Engineering Corporation
1 NFPA 20, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection, National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA, 2010.
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