Fire Pump at Hospital Does Not Start on Emergency Power
I wanted to pass onto to you the problem we are seeing with fire pumps connected to transfer switches not being tested. I had 2 this week one in the Northeast and one in the Midwest, at hospitals, that failed when tested. Both fire pumps had been in service for over 10 years, however never tested as per NFPA 25. In one case the pump was not connected to the generator, in the other it was connected BUT ran backwards when the load was transferred.
NFPA 25 2011 ED, 220.127.116.11 noted below is where the testing is required. In 1 below "peak load" is when the pump is at 150% of the gpm rating, if you have a 1000 GPM pump the 150% rating is 1500 GPM. Pull the power to the utility side of the controller and see what happens. They should take all the readings, volts, amps, gpm, psi, rpm while running off the generator.
We are finding sprinkler contractors are not including the information on the annual fire pump test forms. If they do it is a simple "yes" or "no" check box. No details are provided on pitot, gauge, volt, amps readings while the pump is running at peak load on emergency power as required by NFPA 25 noted above.
I was at a hospital in Tenn a few months ago. The plant engineer had no idea if the switch was tested, so he called the contractor and put me on the speaker phone with the contractor. I said did you test the transfer switch?? He said NOPE not required by the Fire Inspector! I said does your contract specify inspect as per NFPA 25? Contractor said yes, BUT it is not required by the Fire Inspector. I ask how is that?? Contractor said I have been doing fire pump tests for many years in the jurisdiction and send my reports to the fire inspector and he has NEVER asked for me to test the transfer switch!!!!
Turning on generators at hospitals during a non emergency is a big thing. I can not tell you how many fire pump tests I have witnessed at 3 am on a weekend. Doctors get real upset when the lights flicker while they are operating. So most times they are done during non working hours.
So when I ask the question if the pump is tested off the generator they know it is done because it is done at 3 AM something you do not forget. When they say I have no clue most times it is not being tested. So just ask and listen to what they say, believe me they will know when that generator is tested.
What are you seeing? Are you requiring the fire pumps to be tested operating off the emergency generator?
Back up power connected to fire pumps typically are found in high rise buildings, hospitals, college dorms, long term nursing homes, assistant living, etc. where life hazard exposures are significant.
Hope this helps.
18.104.22.168 For installations having an automatic transfer switch, the following test shall be performed to ensure that the overcurrent protective devices (i.e., fuses or circuit breakers) do not open:
(1) Simulate a power failure condition while the pump is operating at peak load.
(2) Verify that the transfer switch transfers power to the alternate power source.
(3) Verify that the pump continues to perform at peak load.
(4) Remove the power failure condition, and verify that, after a time delay, the pump is reconnected to the normal power source
Here is an example of what they look like, look for "transfer switch" on the fire pump controller, usually