What Is a Portable Fire Fighting Pump?

A portable fire fighting pump is a pressure-increasing component used to boost water supplies for fixed-place fire sprinkler systems, standpipes, and foam systems. They can also be a critical component integrated into fire trucks and fire boats for boosting their water supply for firefighting hose operations. Fire pumps are powered most commonly by an electric motor, a diesel engine, and occasionally a steam turbine.

A fire pump is used when hydraulic calculations show that the existing water source cannot meet the fire protection system’s design requirements for terminal water pressure at sprinkler outlets (also called water droplet penetration) and water discharge volume. This typically occurs in high-rise buildings and storage warehouses with large water demands or in systems that require a significant amount of water to be discharged rapidly from the fire suppression outlets.

Depending on the fire protection system, there are several different types of fire pumps to choose from including single-stage volute casing pumps, double-suction radial flow pumps, ring section pumps, and deep-well turbine pumps. Fire pumps are usually rated for a maximum rated pressure and flow, and they are listed or inspected per the NFPA 20 standard for installation of pumps for fire protection.

Centrifugal fire pumps have a suction inlet with an impeller that is driven by the rotation of a shaft. The water enters the inlet and passes through the center of the impeller, creating a centrifugal force that pushes it to the rim of the pump where it discharges. Compared to other fire pumps, centrifugal pumps can provide higher rated pressures and flows with the same size pump, as well as more power-to-weight ratios.

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