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Aug 1, 2022

This episode is the second solocast covering Fire Pumps. We deep dive into the code requirements for fire pumps. Tune in if you want to hear a detailed discussion code requirements for fire pumps.


First Episode on Fire Pumps



Hello. Welcome to the solo cast of fire code tech in these episodes. It's just gonna be me, your host, Gus Gagliardi. There's gonna be a range of topics, but I'm gonna talk about specific technologies, installation, standards, codes, and how they work as well as some other interesting topics that don't neatly fit inside of the context of a normal I.

Hello, all welcome to solo cast. Number 41. In this episode, we're gonna be talking about fire pumps. Again, we talked about fire pumps originally in episode nine of the solo cast series. In this episode, we're gonna talk about some different topics. Some of those topics I'm looking to. Dive deeper into in this solocast episode are code provisions standards around fire pumps.

We'll see how far we go in the episode, but just wanted to give a preface. So you would have a map to decide whether you're interested in and some idea of where this episode is headed. Don't forget to subscribe. So you never miss an episode. Follow us on social media. Also, if you want to drop me a line about a solocast topic that you want to hear about or a interview guest that you might think would be a good fit, please either drop me a note in the comments, or you can contact

That's G G a G L I a R D So I want to start out this episode. Talking about the code section that pertains to fire pumps. So when I say code, a lot of people will use this term flippantly, but generally what I'm referring to is the international building code. As that is what is adopted in the majorities of the jurisdictions that, uh, I have experience in, or that I do work in.

And this is in reference to specifically commercial projects, not, uh, department of defense or other government or state entities. So when I say code, I mean the international building. And so a lot of times I'll try to specify what addition I am looking at when I'm making these episodes, but just wanted to add that clarification note.

So for this episode, we're looking at the 2021 international building code. And specifically we are looking in chapter nine. Section nine 13, which is titled fire pumps. Let's take a look at one of the first pieces of information in section nine 13 for fire pumps. And this is titled general and it gives a bit of the philosophy for.

This section in the building code. And when you need to look at this section in the building code, it states nine 13.1 general section goes on to say where provided fire pumps for fire protection systems shall be installed in accordance with this section and an FBA 20. So that gives you some idea when you have already determined that a fire pump is required and you are.

Looking to dive into the requirements for this fire pump and this space in which you enclosed the fire pump. You wanna look at section nine, 13 in the building code and N FPA 20. So nine 13 is not very long. So I'm just gonna hit the high notes for. Other pieces of information in this section that would be valuable.

So if you're going to design a fire pump, might as well go back and scan through this section just as a sanity check. Or as a checklist for things to make sure that you have given thoughtful consideration for in your design. The next section is protection against interruption of service, and that is nine 13.2.

It states the fire pump driver and controller shall be protected in accordance with NFPA 20 against possible interruption of service through damage caused by explosion. Fire flood, earthquake, rodents, insects, windstorm, freezing vandalism, and other adverse conditions. A great topic to consider when thinking about fire pumps is the.

Programmatic or code required features of the fire pump room. These are often forgotten and even by professionals that are experienced in implementing fire pump designed. So you can rest assured that individuals who have no experience with fire pumps or limited experience with fire pumps will forget these issues and they can.

Very costly. If you have to implement, uh, fire pump, programmatic space requirements, late stage design or in construction. So a sub part to this 13.2 is 13.2 0.1 protection of fire pump rooms. It states fire pumps shall be located in rooms that are separated from all other areas of the building by two hour fire barriers.

Constructed in accordance with section 7 0 7 or two hour horizontal assemblies constructed in accordance with section seven 11 or both. And there are a couple exceptions to this code provision and it states in other than Highrise buildings separation by one hour fire barriers. Constructed in accordance with section 7 0 7 or one hour horizontal assemblies constructed in accordance with section seven, 11 or both shall be permitted in buildings equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system in accordance with section 9 0 3 0.3 0.1 0.1 or 9 0 3 0.3 0.1 point.

So this exception is really frequently taken, um, in buildings that are not high-rise buildings, you and you have a sprinkler system. Uh, the building is sprinkler throughout. Then you can utilize this exception to not have the, uh, fire pump room or fire pump. Building enclosed in a two hour barrier, you can just have a one hour barrier around the space.

And so, um, if you're in a Highrise, you still have to provide the two hour fire barrier. But yeah, this is a really common section that is utilized and the rating around the fire pump room. Missed, uh, I don't know about often, but it's sometimes missed the second exception. States separation is not required for fire pumps, physically separated from the building in accordance with an FPA 20.

So if you pull your fire pump out of the building with the separation distance in accordance with N FPA 20, then you don't have to rate your enclosure. And this. Something that commonly happens because people don't want to give up the floor space within the building, to the fire pump. So the fire pump is frequently pulled out of the building into its own, uh, pump, building, or pump enclosure.

This is of course all under the assumption that you have the space on your site to locate a fire pump enclosure or a fire pump building. And you don't have site constraints that would not allow you to locate a structure outside of the building, which can also be a common occurrence. Nine 13.2 0.2 goes on to talk about some electrical requirements for a fire pump.

This section is called circuits, supplying fire pumps. So there is information about the survivability in the UL listing criteria in this section. In it states. Cable is used for survivability of circuits of supplying fire pumps shall be protected using one of the following methods. Number one cables used for survivability of required critical circuits shall be listed in accordance with UL 2196 and shall have a fire resistance rating of not less than one.

The second provision of this section states electrical circuit protective systems shall have a fire resistance rating of not less than one hour electrical circuit protective systems shall be installed so that they are in accordance with their listing requirements. Number three construction, having a fire resistance rating of not less than one hour.

Number four, the cable or Raceway is encased in a minimum of two inches of concrete. And there's an exception for number four. It states this section shall not apply to cables or portions of cables located within a fire pump room or generator room, which is separated from the remainder of the occupancy with fire resistance, rated construction.

Moving on, we're going to talk about the. Next section, which is nine, 13.3. And this provision is for freeze protection of fire pump rooms. The title is temperature of pump room and it states suitable means shall be provided for maintaining the temperature of a pump room or pump house. We're required above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or five degrees Celsius.

So this is a great reminder for you to coordinate with your mechanical engineer on the project and your electrical engineer on the project to make sure that you have a unit heater within your fire pump room space or pump house, or pump package, because it's a code requirement and it would be a pain.

I've had projects where, um, the mechanical and electrical portions of the unit heater were not coordinated. You have to worry about what kind of power you're getting. If you have a remote pump house and making sure that this detail is coordinated is a great way to show value to other disciplines that, um, you understand.

Um, niche requirements for fire pumps. There's a further recommendation as a Subpart below and it, and it's nine 13.3 0.1. And it says engine manufacturer's recommendation. It says recommendation, which usually means that it's not a code requirement, but let's read the section temperature of the fire pump room pumphouse or area where engines are installed shall never be less than the minimum recommended injured manufacturer.

The engine manufacturers recommendations for oil heaters shall be followed. So obviously this is a requirement and. You'll see this for many pieces of fire and life safety equipment is that there'll be installed in accordance with their listing criteria. So generally there are some pretty reasonable tolerances in the listing criteria.

So check that out for your, um, engine and get some data from your manufacturer. If you are unable to. Tell from the cut sheets or data sheets that you pulled for your fire pump? Nine, 13.4 is titled valve supervision. It states where provided the fire pump, suction, discharge, and bypass valves and isolation valves on the backflow prevention device or assembly shall be supervis.

Open by one of the following methods. Number one central station proprietary or remote signaling service. Number two local signaling service. That will cause the sounding of an audible signal at a constantly attended location. Number three, locking valves, open number four ceiling valves and approved weekly record inspection.

Valves are located within fenced enclosures under the control of the owner. So this section talks about how you need to supervise your valves to make sure that they are not tampered with, to make sure that somebody does not close a normally open valve or, or open a normally closed valve. And so probably the two that I've seen the most are either lock in chains or.

Proprietary or remote signaling station service. So tamper switches that are monitored by a fire alarm system or. Locks and chains on valves to make sure that they stay in the position that they're intended once again, uh, just to reiterate, you know, I said it in the beginning, but we are looking at these requirements in the 2021 building code.

This section is nine 13.4 0.1. And it's titled test outlet, valve supervision, and it says the fire pump test outlet valves shall be supervised in the closed position. Usually I don't see the actual hose connections for the test header supervised, but what you'll, what you will see is a control valve in the test header piping that will be supervised.

So this says specifically test outlet, valve supervision. So I guess that checks out with that line of thinking last section in nine 13 states nine 13.5, which is acceptance. Test acceptance testing shall be done in accordance with requirements for N FPA 20. Originally I had attended to cover a variety of topics in this episode.

It's such a nice little chunk of information to go through the code requirements for fire pumps and incredibly important because you cannot miss something that is directly, you know, implicated in the code or else you are going to be liable. And so it's a huge deal to understand these code requirements.

Really wanted to focus on the code provisions for this episode. And I hope you enjoyed it. Be sure to drop me a line. If you want to chat fire and life safety or have recommendations for the podcast. We'll see you next time. Thanks for listening everybody. Be sure to share the episode with a friend, if you enjoyed it, don't forget that fire protection and life safety is serious business.

The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are by no means a professional consultation or a codes and standards interpretation. Be sure to contact a licensed professional. If you are getting involved with fire protection and or life. Thanks again, and we'll see you next time.