Most fire pumps are of the centrifugal type. Theyre used for fire protection in buildings and provide water to a sprinkler and/or standpipe system.

NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) issues a Standard for the Installation of Centrifugal Fire Pumps, which deals with the selection and installation of pumps supplying liquid for private fire protection. This standard addresses:

  • 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.
  • Acceptance tests and operation.

The standard applies to:

  • Centrifugal single-stage and multistage pumps of the horizontal or vertical shaft design
  • Positive displacements pumps of the horizontal or vertical shaft design.

A Technical Committee on Fire Pumps, consisting of a broad range of interested parties involved with fire protection, reviews and updates this document (referred to as pamphlet NFPA 20) on a three-year cycle.

  • NFPA published its first standard for automatic sprinklers in 1896, and through the workings of the Technical Committee on Fire Pumps, each edition of NFPA 20 has incorporated appropriate provisions to cover new developments and has omitted obsolete provisions.
  • NFPA 20 2007 has been approved by ANSI and is used not only as a national standard but is also accepted internationally.
  • Fire pumps have rated flow rates ranging in discreet flow increments from 6-m3/h (25-gpm) through 1135-m3/h (5000-gpm)
    • With net pressures starting from 275-kPa (40-psi)
    • Depending on the manufacturer, are capable of up to 4410-kPa (640-psi).

For a centrifugal pump to be qualified as a fire pump, it must meet stringent mechanical and hydraulic requirements that are witnessed and certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or FM Global, two independent third-party testing agencies.

  • These testing agencies have established (with input from industry experts) specific engineering requirements that a pump must meet before it can be listed or approved as satisfactory for fire service.
  • The Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) is the organization, office, or individual responsible for approving equipment such as a fire pump when used for the protection of life and property.

Double suction axial split case pumps, close-coupled vertical in-line pumps, and horizontal end suction pumps can be used for the majority of fire pump applications.

If an installation has a static suction lift, then a vertical turbine type pump must be utilized.

The primary drivers for fire pumps are electric motors or diesel engines, and almost all are started automatically.


  • On February 15, 2018