Main Types of Fire Pumps (+Use Cases for Each)

May 2 2023

Main Types of Fire Pumps (+Use Cases for Each)

Fire pumps serve an essential role in fire protection. These crucial fire and life safety devices ensure your fire protection systems have sufficient water pressure and flow rate to safeguard all building areas from potential fire and smoke damage.  

But not all fire pumps are created equal. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, making it essential to understand your application requirements before selecting a pump design.

Before diving deeper into the different types, let’s review what a fire pump is.

What is a Fire Pump?

Fire pump systems provide a high-pressure water supply for fire sprinklers, standpipes, and other water-based fire protection systems. These pumps ensure your building's fire protection systems have sufficient water pressure and flow to extinguish fires quickly and efficiently.

The pump is powered by a motor and includes components like pressure switches, suction lines, and backflow preventers. Fire pumps are typically electric or diesel-driven, with electric motors providing minimal maintenance costs, while diesel models offer greater reliability in emergencies.

Once activated, the fire pump draws water from a storage tank or other source and distributes it at high pressure to fire protection systems through a network of pipes, where it will then be dispensed onto the fire.

4 Types of Fire Pumps

There are several types of fire pumps, each with its unique strengths and applications. Here is a brief overview of the most common fire pumps and their use cases. 

Horizontal Split Case Pump

The horizontal split case (HSC) is the most common type of fire pump primarily due to its economical price, durability, and high water flow applications. HSC pumps are easily accessible for maintenance and have a longer life span than other types of fire pumps. 

Common applications include:

  • Companies with a small fire protection budget
  • Gallons per minute (GPM) requirement of 750+

Vertical Split Case Pump

A vertical split case pump provides high pressure for fire suppression without requiring too much power consumption. Its motor is typically located at the top of the pump, allowing it to take up less space. The vertical design also protects the motor from potential flood damage.

Common applications include:

  • Buildings susceptible to flooding
  • Facilities with space limitations

Vertical In-Line Pump

Vertical in-line pumps are a reliable choice for providing superior fire protection while taking up minimal space. The pump provides a smooth flow of water throughout the system because the suction and delivery are in line with each other. However, these pumps have limited applications as they can only be used with an electric driver. Maintenance costs are also higher since the entire system needs to be disassembled. 

Common applications include:

  • Data farms
  • Lower flow applications
  • Small commercial facilities 

Vertical Turbine Pump

The vertical turbine is a centrifugal fire pump designed to distribute water from a static water source, such as an underground tank or well. Vertical turbine pumps are the only type of pump that can start with negative suction pressure. Vertical turbine pumps are versatile and can meet a wide range of capacity and pressure requirements using a diesel engine or electric motor. 

Common applications include:

  • Industrial plants
  • Large commercial facilities
  • Chemical and mining operations

Ready to Install a Fire Pump for Your Facility?

Choosing the ideal fire pump for your facility is a complex process as it depends on many factors, such as capacity, cost, system layout, and environmental considerations. While having a knowledge base can differentiate a passive building owner from a savvy one, tackling this critical fire and life safety challenge alone is never advisable.

Seek out experienced fire protection professionals who can advise you on choosing the right equipment for your needs. They will assess your building, determine the most cost-effective installation, and ensure your fire pump is properly maintained and inspected in accordance with NFPA 20. 

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