The design and operation of fire pump systems have changed little over the past few decades. Some innovation has taken place in the controls of pumps and some new offerings in industrial internet of things technology are changing what users can glean from information about their system, leading to safer, better informed installations. One area that has remained the same is the use of diesel engines to power fire pumps in high-rise building applications.
NFPA 20, UL and FM provide guidance on the basic requirements that fire pumps must meet to be considered reliable. These include a fire pump driver that is rated to the full horsepower demand of the fire pump, even if this requires the driver to flow above the 150% required duty point. The fire pump driver is also required to be certified by the manufacturer with a certified factory test curve.
A diesel engine driven fire pump is installed in a dedicated fire pump room. Ideally the fire pump room should be in close proximity to the main building or at least on the exterior of the tower so that it can easily be accessed for refueling, ventilation of combustion exhaust and maintenance.
The fire pump room is typically conditioned with a temperature of 40 degrees F or higher to prevent degrading the battery starting capacity and to avoid gelling of the diesel fuel located in the tank. The diesel fuel tank is sized for a fire duration of eight hours. An annual test with the diesel fire pump is required to ensure that the system will operate.diesel driven fire pump