Fire Pump Basics

Fire pumps are an important piece of life safety equipment, used to supplement water-based fire suppression systems where adequate water pressure is not available. They are often necessary to meet NFPA design requirements. This blog addresses the importance of fire pumps and how to determine if a fire pump is needed.

Does my building need a fire pump?
It depends. During the planning and design phases of a construction project, the fire protection designers should address this question. As a fire suppression system is designed, its water demands will be compared to the local municipality’s available water supply. A fire pump will be required if the available water supply cannot meet the system pressure requirements.

How are fire pumps designed and tested?
NFPA 20, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection, addresses the design, installation, and testing of Fire Pumps. Chapter 14 “Acceptance testing, performance, and maintenance,” requires that fire pumps must be formally commissioned and tested in accordance with the pump manufacturer prior to formal acceptance of the fire suppression system and prior to building occupancy.

This test is critical in confirming that the fire pump operates as intended according to the manufacturer’s performance curve and in line with the design specifications. Additionally, it provides transparency that the performance meets the approval of the manufacturer, installing contractor, building owner, engineer of record, and the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). Once accepted, fire pumps are required to be regularly tested in accordance with Chapter 8 to make sure they continue to perform as intended. Depending on the type of fire pump (i.e. electric driven or diesel driven), specific testing criteria may vary..

Why are fire pumps important in high-rise applications?
City water supplies often do not have adequate pressure to supply water to tall buildings, and a pump is frequently required.  The pump must be capable of providing water to the highest portions of the building to serve both the sprinkler systems and the standpipes for firefighting operations (both of which could be operating simultaneously).   High-rise system design requires careful consideration of pump, piping, flows, and pressures to ensure proper operation of systems in all areas and all levels of the building.

To learn more about fire pumps or for assistance with fire protection system design, email us at

Application of any information provided, for any use, is at the reader’s risk and without liability to Code Red Consultants. Code Red Consultants does not warrant the accuracy of any information contained in this blog as applicable codes and standards change over time. The application, enforcement and interpretation of codes and standards may vary between Authorities Having Jurisdiction and for this reason, registered design professionals should be consulted to determine the appropriate application of codes and standards to a specific scope of work.