The Fire Pump Flow Test

An annual pump test is a documented procedure to prove your apparatus can perform at its rated capacity from draft.  The chassis drivetrain, pump, pump transmission and associated plumbing are run through a progressive series of tests that are designed to prove the system is in sound working order.

Prior to testing is a great time to do periodic maintenance on the apparatus. Changing the engine oil, pump transmission oil, and even servicing the transmission before testing every year will ensure yearly maintenance if your department doesn’t already have an established periodic maintenance program. Contact our Service Department to set up a customized maintenance program.

From start to finish the actual testing will only take about two hours including set up. Setting up the equipment and tearing it down will probably take longer so it is a good idea to test all units on the same day.  A good test site is a major consideration, we offer both on sight (your location) pump testing and testing at our facility in New Holland, Pa.

There are a few essential preliminary inspections that need to be performed prior to actually running the pump test itself. NFPA 1911, Chapter 9, (Inspection and Maintenance of Water Pumping Systems and Water Tanks) gives you a good overview of the systems and components that need to be inspected, tested or adjusted prior to running the test.

  • Verify that all fluids in the pump drive system, primer (if equipped) and gear case are at the proper level.
  • Verify that all pump shift controls operate smoothly, that all interlock mechanisms engage properly and pilot lights are working.
  • Verify that all discharge and intake valve controls operate smoothly including the transfer valve and relief valve (if equipped).
  • Engage pump and inspect pump packing or mechanical seals, adjust or replace (when necessary) in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • With pump engaged, inspect plumbing and gauge lines for leaks and verify that all gauges and instruments are registering accurately. Also, verify that primer valve control and motor are functioning properly.

There are several other inspections that can be conducted and are usually performed under a complete pump service inspection. However, as long as you have performed these few simply inspections and made whatever adjustments were required, you are now ready to head to the test site.

Fire Pump Testing


Run the pump vacuum for 5 minutes to begin the actual pump test.

This determines how long it takes to lift water to the pump so that pumping can begin. For pumps rated up to 1,250 gpm, a 30-second maximum time is allowed, and a 45-second max is permitted for pumps rated for 1,500 gpm or higher.

TEST #3: 100% TEST
Run the pump for 20 minutes at 100% of rated capacity, with a net pump pressure of 150 pounds per square inch (psi).

The NFPA requires this test for pumps rated for over 750 gpm. Immediately after the 20-minute test, run the pump for 5 minutes, at its rated capacity, at 165 psi.

TEST #5: 70% TEST
Run the pump for 10 minutes at 70% capacity and 200 psi.

TEST #6: 50% TEST
Run the pump for 10 more minutes at 50% capacity and 250 psi.

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