NFPA 20 HDBK
Stationary Fire Pumps Handbook
|Publication Date:||1 January 2013|
Fire pumps have been used to supply flow and pressure to fire protection systems for over 100 years. The first NFPA standard on automatic sprinkler systems was published in 1896 and included information on steam and rotary fire pumps that is still valid today. Among its requirements were 2½ in. outlets for testing purposes, equipment protection (the pump had to be located in a brick or stone enclosure and cut off from the main building by fire doors), and a weekly running test. The standard established the minimum size for fire pumps to be not less than 500 gpm rated capacity and required a 60 minute water supply. A spring-type pressure relief valve and pressure gauge were also required. These requirements amounted to less than one page of text for the installation of a fire pump.
These early pumps were not the primary water supply for sprinkler or standpipe systems and were started manually. Pumps were permitted to take suction by lift either from a connected water main or by means of connecting a primer pipe to a water tank of not less than 200 gallons capacity. The first pumps were usually powered by steam; gasoline engine-driven pumps were first mentioned in the standard in 1913. At first unreliable, these spark-ignited engines evolved into the reliable diesel engine-driven pumps of modern times.
Today, fire pumps are considered to be a primary component of the fire protection water supply and are started automatically. Modern fire pumps are connected to a reliable driver of either an electric motor or a diesel engine (some steam-driven units are still in service) and are designed to start and operate under the most demanding conditions. NFPA 20, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection, has undergone 30 revisions and has evolved into a comprehensive installation standard consisting of 14 chapters and 113 pages - far more comprehensive than the first standard on fire pumps.
In 1998 NFPA and the National Fire Sprinkler Association collaborated on the first edition of what was then called the Fire Pump Handbook. Kenneth E. Isman, P.E., of NFSA and Milosh Puchovsky, P.E., formerly of the NFPA staff, provided a depth of knowledge and expertise to create a handbook that became invaluable to those in the field. NFPA acknowledges the work of Mr. Isman and Mr. Puchovsky in their authorship of the first edition of the Fire Pump Handbook, portions of which have been used in the preparation of this book.
The purpose of this handbook, in addition to providing commentary on the requirements of NFPA 20, is to include in one document a complete handbook of all NFPA documents that establish water supply requirements for fixed suppression systems, regardless of the type of water supply. Part I provides examples of possible fire pump configuration based on the requirements of NFPA 20, and discusses the purpose of its components. Part II of this handbook contains the requirements for the installation of fire pumps from NFPA 20, with additional explanation in the form of commentary. Part III covers hydrant systems and how hydrant demand necessitates a fire pump installation and water tanks and private water supplies as they relate to the installation of fire pumps and suppression systems. It also discusses both automatic standpipe systems, which, due to their high flow and pressure demands, usually require the assistance of a fire pump, and sprinklers, which are the most common type of system installed and in many configurations create a pressure demand that necessitates a fire pump. Part III includes requirements and guidance from NFPA 291, Recommended Practice for Fire Flow Testing and Marking of Hydrants, NFPA 24, Standard for the Installation of Private Fire Service Mains and Their Appurtenances; NFPA 1, Fire Code; NFPA 22, Standard for Water Tanks for Private Fire Protection; NFPA 14, Standard for the Installation of Standpipe and Hose Systems and NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems.
The handbook also includes four supplements: a poster accompanied by a descriptor discussing why the configuration was chosen and to help the user understand that multiple standards need to be referenced when designing and installing a fire pump assembly; commissioning and inspection, testing, and maintenance forms which are intended to assist the user in managing a fire pump installation and to use during routine ITM procedures; extracted Article 695 from the National Electrical Code® Handbook; and a table of significant revisions from the 2010 to 2013 edition of NFPA 20.
I would like to thank all of the contributors to this project for their input and guidance on the preparation of this material.