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Small Pump Policy

NFPA 13, (section 23.2.2), and NFPA 13R, (section 6.6.4), in the 2007 editions both require that fire sprinkler system pumps be listed according to NFPA 20, (Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection). The 2007 edition of NFPA 20 specifies the listing-type of pump to be used in section 5.7.1 as “Fire pumps shall be dedicated to and listed for fire protection service.” (Note that NFPA 13D, Maine Life Safety, and Hydro-Pro standards do not require pumps to be listed for fire service.)

The problem arises in NFPA 13 and NFPA 13R systems when the design calls for a pump that is less than 5 hp, since there do not seem to be any pumps that small that are listed for fire service, or at least they are not available through the New England pump suppliers at this time that I am aware of. Section of NFPA 20 however gives leeway to use other types of pumps, for it states, “Pumps other than those specified in this standard and having different design features shall be permitted to be installed where such pumps are listed by a testing laboratory.” After study, research, feedback from engineers and a reply from NFPA on this issue, I have come up with the following policy for Maine:

When an NFPA 13 system or an NFPA 13R system is designed with a pump that is less than 5 hp, then our office will allow a general listed pump that is not listed for fire service.  

When an NFPA 13 system or an NFPA 13R system is designed with a pump that is 5 hp to 7.5 hp inclusive, then our office may allow with prior approval a general listed pump that is not listed for fire service.

When the pump used has a general pump listing rather than a listing for fire service, then the pump controller panel does not have to be listed for fire service, but it must have a basic UL 508A listing, (Standard for Industrial Control Panels).

When the installed pump is 7.5 hp or less and is not listed for fire protection service, then the pump power supply does not need to be the same as for a pump that is listed for fire service.

For an NFPA 13 system or an NFPA 13R system, (regardless of pump size), a test header shall be provided in compliance with NFPA 20, 2007 edition, section so that the pump can be tested in the field to verify that the pump is performing in compliance with the manufacturers pump performance curve and to verify that the water supply is adequately supplying the pump. (NFPA 25 requires this test once every 3 years.).  If a water tank is the source of water, then it would be acceptable to test the pump through a recirculation pipe (that has a pre-calibrated flow meter, sometimes called venturi meters, built into it attached into the water tank instead of having a test header.

Although direct power feeds will not be required for general listed pumps, the pump power supply must be monitored, as indicated later below.

As mentioned above, the Office of State Fire Marshal may grant permission to allow 5 hp to 7.5 hp inclusive pumps to be general listed pumps rather than pumps listed for fire service.  In these rare cases other fire protection features may be required.  Our office would want to see a combination of some of the following situations before granting permission:

1.  A good water supply is not readily available without creating undue hardship.

2.  Three-phase power is not readily available without creating undue hardship.

3.  The occupancy is not a nursing home, hospital, or similar defend-in-place occupancy.

            (Note however that NFPA 101, 2006, sections & allows a “beefed-up” NFPA 13D for small residential board & care occupancies, which would therefore allow general listed pumps.)

4.  The construction type, building height, occupant load & egress capability are favorable.

5.  The building is older, existing construction or an addition to older, existing construction.

6.  The building is new construction of light hazard occupancy and/or small area(s) of ordinary hazard.

7.  The fire sprinkler system is not required.   

Pump Controller Panel Requirements

Pump panels for general listed pumps of up to 7.5 hp inclusive shall be designed for across-the-line-start.  The horsepower and voltage rating of the controller is to match that of the connected pump.  With the front door mounted Hand-Off-Auto switch in the “Auto” position, this panel shall start the associated pump on a drop in pressure through the integral dual setting pressure switch.  Closure of the integral pressure switch contacts shall activate the modular motor contactor with adjustable overload trip setting and start the pump.  Upon attainment of the cut-out pressure setting of the integral pressure switch, the adjustable minimum run timer shall maintain closure of the modular motor contactor for a preset time of 0 to 5 minutes.  After the preset time has elapsed, the modular motor contactor shall open, and providing the cut-out pressure is still achieved, the pump shall then stop.  The features of this pump controller panel shall include the following:

            1. UL 508A listing. (This is the standard for industrial control panels.)

            2. Controller cabinet enclosure that has a NEMA 2 rating. (This is the National Electrical Manufacturers Association standard for indoor enclosures in non-hazardous locations including protection against dripping and light splashing of liquids.)

            3. Main circuit breaker with safety door inter-lock. (This is to prevent opening of the controller door when the circuit breaker is in the “On” position.)

            4. A 120 volt control transformer for 3-phase power applications.

            5. Dual setting pressure switch. (This is used to set both the start set point and the pressure differential.)

            6. Horsepower-rated thermo-magnetic modular motor contactor with integral adjustable motor overload. (This is a motor magnetic starter with motor overload protection.)

            7. Minimum run-timer with 0 to 5 minute time setting for activation when the pressure switch is open. (This allows for a time delay in shutting off the pump so that the pump will run long enough to cool off.)

            8. One set of dry alarm contacts to monitor “Power Available”. (This is for loss-of-power supervision.)

            9. One set of dry alarm contacts to monitor “Pump Run”.

            10. “Hand-Off-Auto” selector switch, rotary type, heavy duty. (It can also read, “Manual-Off-Automatic”.)

            11. “Power-On” front-mounted pilot light.

            12. Termination point inside the controller panel to provide a power connection for a flow switch.

            13. Termination point inside the controller panel to provide a 115 volt power source for a monitoring device. (This output signal for alarm supervision might go to a Fire Alarm Control Panel, or to a constantly-attended location, or to a separate source of power that would signal a visual alarm or an audible alarm that might be the electric bell for the fire sprinkler system.)

The power source for the panel must be on a dedicated circuit breaker when coming from the building service-entrance panel.

Although NFPA 20, (2007), section 5.24.6 indicates that the pump used as the water supply for the fire sprinkler system cannot also be the pump utilized for pressure maintenance of the system, for the types of installations for general listed pumps of 7.5 hp or less described in this small pump policy, the pump may be utilized for both the water supply and the pressure maintenance of the fire sprinkler system.

These specifications will be enforced for any permit submittals that arrive starting 7-1-10 (and will also apply on that date to Maine Life Safety, and Hydro-Pro pumps, both of which are of any size, and will also apply to their pump panels).   

When any bid situation may be questionable, please do not hesitate to contact Gerry Leach at 207-626-3889 or at