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Reliability Analysis for Power to Fire Pumps


Reliability Analysis for Power to Fire Pump Using Fault Tree and RBD

Robert Schuerger | HP Critical Facilities

Robert Arno | ITT Excelis Information Systems

Neal Dowling | MTechnology

Michael  A. Anthony | University of Michigan


Abstract:  One of the most common questions in the early stages of designing a new facility is whether the normal utility supply to a fire pump is reliable enough to “tap ahead of the main” or whether the fire pump supply is so unreliable that it must have an emergency power source, typically an on-site generator. Apart from the obligation to meet life safety objectives, it is not uncommon that capital on the order of 100000to1 million is at stake for a fire pump backup source. Until now, that decision has only been answered with intuition – using a combination of utility outage history and anecdotes about what has worked before. There are processes for making the decision about whether a facility needs a second source of power using quantitative analysis. Fault tree analysis and reliability block diagram are two quantitative methods used in reliability engineering for assessing risk. This paper will use a simple one line for the power to a fire pump to show how each of these techniques can be used to calculate the reliability of electric power to a fire pump. This paper will also discuss the strengths and weakness of the two methods. The hope is that these methods will begin tracking in the National Fire Protection Association documents that deal with fire pump power sources and can be used as another tool to inform design engineers and authorities having jurisdiction about public safety and property protection. These methods will enlighten decisions about the relative cost of risk control with quantitative information about the incremental cost of additional 9’s of operational availability.



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“Fille romaine à la fontaine” 1875 Léon Bonnat

Civilization has historically flourished around rivers and major waterways.  Mesopotamia, the so-called cradle of civilization, was situated between the major rivers Tigris and Euphrates; the ancient society of the Egyptians depended entirely upon the Nile. Rome was also founded on the banks of the Italian river Tiber. Large metropolises like Rotterdam, London, Montreal, Paris, New York City, Buenos Aires, Shanghai, Tokyo, Chicago, and Hong Kong owe their success in part to their easy accessibility via water and the resultant expansion of trade. Islands with safe water ports, like Singapore, have flourished for the same reason. In places such as North Africa and the Middle East, where water is more scarce, access to clean drinking water was and is a major factor in human development.*

With this perspective, and our own “home waters” situated in the Great Lakes, we are attentive to water management standardization activity administered by International Organization Standardization Technical Committee 224 (ISO TC/224).  The scope of the committee is multidimensional; as described in the business plan linked below:



Water-related management standards define a very active space; arguably, as fast-moving a space as electrotechnology.   The ISO TC/224 is a fairly well accomplished committee with at least 16 consensus products emerging from a 34 nations led by Association Française de Normalisation (@AFNOR) as the global Secretariat and 34 participating nations.   The American Water Works Association is ANSI’s US Technical Advisory Group administrator to the ISO.

We do not advocate the user interest in this standard at the moment but encourage educational institutions with resident expertise — either on the business side or academic side of US educational institutions — to participate in it.   You are encouraged to communicate directly with Paul Olson at AWWA, 6666 W. Quincy Avenue, Denver, CO 80235, Phone: (303) 347-6178, Email: polson@awwa.org.

The work products of TC 224 (and ISO 147 and  ISO TC 282) are also on the standing agendas of our Water, Global and Bucolia colloquia.  See our CALENDAR for the next online meeting, open to everyone.

Issue: [13-163]

Category: Global, Water

Colleagues: Mike Anthony, Christine Fischer, Jack Janveja. Richard Robben, Larry Spielvogel

Standing Agenda / Water


Commencement 1865 / John Ruskin

“…All the pure and noble arts of peace are founded on war; no great art ever yet rose on Earth, but among a nation of soldiers. There is no art among a shepherd people if it remains at peace. There is no art among an agricultural people if it remains at peace. Commerce is barely consistent with fine art, but cannot produce it. Manufacture not only is unable to produce it, but invariably destroys whatever seeds of it exist. There is no great art possible to a nation but that which is based on battle.

Now, though I hope you love fighting for its own sake, you must, I imagine, be surprised at my assertion that there is any such good fruit of fighting. You supposed, probably, that your office was to defend the works of peace, but certainly not to found them; nay, the common course of war, you may have thought, was only to destroy them. And truly I, who tell you this of the use of war, should have been the last of men to tell you so, had I trusted my own experience only.

Yet the conclusion is inevitable, from any careful comparison of the states of great historic races at different periods. The first dawn of it is in Egypt; and the power of it is founded on the perpetual contemplation of death, and of future judgment, by the mind of a nation of which the ruling caste were priests, and the second, soldiers. The greatest works produced by them are sculptures of their kings going out to battle or receiving the homage of conquered armies. 

All the rudiments of art, then, and much more than the rudiments of all science, are laid first by this great warrior-nation, which held in contempt all mechanical trades, and in absolute hatred the peaceful life of shepherds. From Egypt art passes directly into Greece, where all poetry, and all painting, are nothing else than the description, praise, or dramatic representation of war, or of the exercises which prepare for it, in their connection with offices of religion. All Greek institutions had first respect to war, and their conception of it, as one necessary office of all human and divine life, is expressed simply by the images of their guiding gods. Apollo is the god of all wisdom of the intellect; he bears the arrow and the bow before he bears the lyre. Athena is the goddess of all wisdom in conduct. It is by the helmet and the shield, oftener than by the shuttle, that she is distinguished from other deities.

There were, however, two great differences in principle between the Greek and the Egyptian theories of policy. In Greece there was no soldier caste; every citizen was necessarily a soldier. And, again, while the Greeks rightly despised mechanical arts as much as the Egyptians, they did not make the fatal mistake of despising agricultural and pastoral life, but perfectly honored both. These two conditions of truer thought raise them quite into the highest rank of wise manhood that has yet been reached, for all our great arts, and nearly all our great thoughts, have been borrowed or derived from them. Take away from us what they have given, and I hardly can imagine how low the modern European would stand.

Now, you are to remember, in passing to the next phase of history, that though you must have war to produce art, you must also have much more than war—namely, an art-instinct or genius in the people; and that, though all the talent for painting in the world won’t make painters of you, unless you have a gift for fighting as well, you may have the gift for fighting, and none for painting. Now, in the next great dynasty of soldiers, the art-instinct is wholly wanting. I have not yet investigated the Roman character enough to tell you the causes of this, but I believe, paradoxical as it may seem to you, that, however truly the Roman might say of himself that he was born of Mars, and suckled by the wolf, he was nevertheless, at heart, more of a farmer than a soldier. The exercises of war were with him practical, not poetical; his poetry was in domestic life only, and the object of battle, pacis imponere morem. And the arts are extinguished in his hands, and do not rise again, until, with Gothic chivalry, there comes back into the mind of Europe a passionate delight in war itself, for the sake of war. And then, with the romantic knighthood which can imagine no other noble employment—under the fighting kings of France, England, and Spain—and under the fighting dukeships and citizenships of Italy, art is born again, and rises to her height in the great valleys of Lombardy and Tuscany, through which there flows not a single stream, from all their Alps or Apennines, that did not once run dark red from battle, and it reaches its culminating glory in the city which gave to history the most intense type of soldiership yet seen among men—the city whose armies were led in their assault by their king, led through it to victory by their king, and so led, though that king of theirs was blind, and in the extremity of his age.

And from this time forward, as peace is established or extended in Europe, the arts decline. They reach an unparalleled pitch of costliness, but lose their life, enlist themselves at last on the side of luxury and various corruption, and, among wholly tranquil nations, wither utterly away, remaining only in partial practice among races who, like the French and us, have still the minds, though we cannot all live the lives, of soldiers.

“It may be so,” I can suppose that a philanthropist might exclaim. “Perish then the arts, if they can flourish only at such a cost. What worth is there in toys of canvas and stone, if compared to the joy and peace of artless domestic life?” And the answer is—truly, in themselves, none. But as expressions of the highest state of the human spirit, their worth is infinite. As results they may be worthless, but, as signs, they are above price. For it is an assured truth that, whenever the faculties of men are at their fullness, they must express themselves by art; and to say that a state is without such expression, is to say that it is sunk from its proper level of manly nature. So that, when I tell you that war is the foundation of all the arts, I mean also that it is the foundation of all the high virtues and faculties of men.



Chauncy B. Tinker, Ph.D

Professor of English at Yale College



Rainwater Catchment Systems

“Hanging Gardens of Babylon”

Earlier this year American Society of Plumbing Engineers released public review draft of its consensus product — ASPE 63 Rainwater Catchment Systems.   The scope of this standard covers requirements for the design and installation of rainwater catchment systems that utilize the principle of collecting and using precipitation from a rooftop and other hard, impervious building surfaces. This standard does not apply to the collection of rainwater from vehicular parking or other similar surfaces.

Click on the link below to view the redline regarding U.S. EPA Guide Standard and Protocol for Testing Microbiological Water Purifiers or to NSF Protocol P231.

ANSI Standards Action Page 62

That is all we see from ASPE on this and other standards; most likely owing to the pandemic.   ASPE typically posts its redlines in ANSI Standards Action and on the landing page for its standards development enterprise:

ASPE Standards Development

Note that many of its products are co-developed with NSF International, IAPMO and the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association, among others.  It is noteworthy that ASPE provides a detailed description of the User Interest; which enlightens understanding of the lamentable presence of the User Interest, thus the raison d’être of Standards Michigan.

University of Warsaw Rooftop Rain Garden

We place the ASPE suite on the standing agenda of our monthly Water teleconferences.  See our CALENDAR about when and how to log in; always open to everyone.

Issue: [13-61]

Category: Water, Mechanical

Colleagues: Jack Janveja, Richard Robben, Larry Spielvogel


Readings / Estimating Water Demand in Buildings

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