Fire Sprinkler System: What is a Fire Pump?

Posted On: February 8th, 2022

A fire pump refers to any purpose-driven pump often used in a fire protection system of high-rise buildings. Fire pumps are crucial as they increase the water pressure from firefighting equipment and water mains to enable prompt distribution via the fire sprinkler system. 

Firefighting is a dangerous business. But fire pumps are not essential in high-rise structures only. Even low-set buildings need fire pumps to contain fires ably.  

Residences and business premises need to have a well-designed, expertly installed fire sprinkler system and fire pump to minimize the hazards of firefighting. 

How a Fire Pump Works 

A fire pump is an indispensable part of a functional fire sprinkler system. As mentioned briefly earlier, fire pumps provide the required high-pressure water, which increases the water flow rate long enough for the fire sprinkler system to access. 

A fire pump comprises a driver or motor and the controller powered by diesel fuel or electricity. Since it is a must-have in any fire sprinkler system, the fire pump receives water from a lake, tank, reservoir, or underground water supply. 

The high pressure that the fire pump supplies efficiently distribute water via the fire sprinkler system and hose standpipes. 

Why are Fire Pumps Necessary? 

Fire pumps are crucially necessary when the available water supply at a particular place doesn’t generate enough hydraulic pressure to meet the utmost demand of a fire protection system, such as an automatic fire sprinkler system, foam systems, standpipes, etc. 

An excellent example would be a multistoried building where the average pressure from a city supply line is not enough to get the better of gravity to reach the very top of the burning building.  

A fire pump is needed here to boost the pressure of the city line to the top of the building. There must always be a steady clean water supply to enable the fire pump to operate seamlessly. 

Types of Fire Pumps You Should Know 

The following are the conventional types of fire pumps used extensively today: 

  • Vertical Split Case Fire Pump 

Vertical split case fire pumps share many similarities with their counterparts, the horizontal split case fire pumps. The only exception is that vertical split case fire pumps take up far less space than their counterparts due to their vertical design. 

The vertical design of vertical split case fire pumps effectively protects the pump from potential damage flooding may cause. 

  • Horizontal Split Case Fire Pump 

A horizontal split case fire pump is the most common type of fire pump. They are easily accessible for maintenance or repairs and are incredibly economical for most higher flow applications. 

Horizontal split case fire pumps have impressive long lifespans, and their size availability makes them a favorite of new business owners erecting structures at strategic parts of many cities. 

  • Vertical Turbine Fire Pump 

This centrifugal pump is primarily designed for any fire pump service with an underground water source. The vertical turbine fire pump is available in varied types such as: 

  • Water-lubricated open-line-shaft fire pumps 
  • Oil-lubricated enclosed-line-shaft fire pumps 

Both types of vertical turbine fire pumps are primarily designed for installation in open swamps, drilled wells, streams, lakes, and other sub-surface sources. 

  • Vertical In-line Fire Pump 

A single-stage centrifugal pump designed primarily – as the name implies – for vertical installation. The vertical in-line fire pump has both the delivery and suction in line with one another. It provides a near-perfectly smooth water flow all over the fire sprinkler system. 

The vertical in-line fire pump is the ideal choice for small spaces. However, the pump may have to be removed when maintenance or repairs are required due to its design. 

  • The Jockey Pump 

The jockey pump – a pressure-maintenance pump – refers to a small piece of equipment that works conjointly with a fire pump/fire sprinkler system. It is specifically designed to maintain the elevated pressure within the system to a particular level when the entire system is not in use. 

This prevents the fire pump from running all the time. It also inhibits the fire sprinkler system from going off randomly. The jockey pump also helps prevent the entire fire protection system from severe damage during a fire incidence as water gushes into and through the pipes. 

Choosing which fire pump and fire sprinkler system is crucial for any facility or business premises. Discuss in-depth with the local AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction), a fire safety specialist, the architect, and the design engineer of the facility. 

Fire Pumps: Installation and Maintenance 

Several considerations exist regarding the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) and IBC (International Building Code), often updated. 

Weekly inspections should be performed by highly-trained, on-site personnel. Monthly, quarterly and annual inspections and maintenance should only be carried out by personnel certified by an NFPO.


Fire pumps are crucial life- and fire-safety equipment in many buildings, low-set and high-rise structures. 

Different types of fire pumps are on the market today. The type of fire pump you choose depends significantly on the size of the facility.  

Get in touch with Fraker Fire Services for more detailed information about fire pumps, fire sprinkler systems, and how to install or provide maintenance services at your facility. 

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