Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection | Standards Michigan

Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection

The gathering pace of high-rise student residence facility construction keeps this document high on our advocacy agenda.


Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection

April 16, 2019
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Small stirrup pump, which could be operated by one person. Engraving from the mid-17th Century fire museum in Salem at Lake Constance, Germany. Perhaps the simplest form of bucket tub type fire engine

The 2019 edition of NFPA 20 – Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection is the current edition of document and the 2022 edition is now open for public input.   This standard deals with the selection and installation of pumps supplying liquid for private fire protection.  The scope of this document includes liquid supplies; suction, discharge, and auxiliary equipment; power supplies, including power supply arrangements; electric drive and control; diesel engine drive and control; steam turbine drive and control; and acceptance tests and operation. 

We have advocated the user interest in this document in the 2011, 2013 and 2016 revisions with modest success.  For example, we were able to persuade the NFPA 20 technical committee to clarify language that resulted in giving local fire marshals the choice between a 1-hour fire pump test and an equivalent test that uses a three-point pump motor curve to annually ascertain the performance of the fire pump.  The difference in the amount of water needed annually could be significantly reduced using the three-point method thereby reducing city water and/or sewer cost.  This advocacy success is listed on our ABOUT page.

The original University of Michigan education facility advocacy enterprise did manage to submit two proposals in June 2016 before the enterprise was deconstructed in the business division reorganization in July 2016.   One proposal — essentially a conceptual re-submit from the 2011 and 2013 cycles — was to advocate greater visibility for the possibility of multi-building “campus-style” fire pump systems.  The public input is linked below:

NFPA 20 Public Input 2016 Edition File 13-48

The committee did not disagree with the proposal conceptually; only that the possibility of multi-building fire pump systems (for sprinklers) remains because there is no direct language prohibiting it.  Campus-style fire pump systems can reduce #TotalCostofOwnersship because the approach challenges the conventional one building/one pump approach favored by risk adverse design consultants, insurance companies, maintenance contractors,  labor, and municipal or university compliance officers.  Shared fire pumps between buildings pumps add an additional level of complexity that tends to make facility managers uneasy about reliability.   We did some research — applying the mathematical methods used by power engineers — to further clarify the reliability problem; linked below:

IEEE Industrial Applications Society Paper on Reliability to Fire Pumps

There is public input by fire protection consultants that advance concepts for the fire ratings of access paths with which we generally agree.

Public input is due June 26th.

Our next monthly teleconference devoted to fire safety is scheduled for February 26th, 11 AM.   Anyone may join the discussion with the login credentials at the upper right of our home page


Issue: [16-126], [13-48] and [11-31]

Category: Fire Protection

Colleagues: Ian Steinman, John Birkle, Joe DeRosier (University of Michigan), Josh Elvove, Rich Robben, Marcelo Hirschler, Rodger Reiswig. Robert Schuerger, Robert G. Arno, Neal Dowling

Technical Committee Member: Pat Brock (Oklahoma State University), Kenneth Isman (University of Maryland)

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