NFPA updates affect fire truck pumps

CarolinaFireJournal - Jeff VanMeter
Jeff VanMeter
07/15/2014 -

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) develops, publishes and distributes consensus codes and standards aimed at minimizing the potential and the effects of fire and other risks. The NFPA committees are made up of representatives from fire departments, scientists, industry experts, businesses, and other individuals with vested interests in the fire service.

Two standards that are currently in the process of being updated are NFPA 1901: Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus and NFPA 1906: Standard for Wildland Fire Apparatus. The expected publishing date for both is 2016. This article will focus on how the changes will affect the pumps used on fire trucks.

NFPA 1901 covers requirements that apply to multiple types of fire apparatus as well as a wide range of other vehicle types including, but not limited to, pumpers, rescue vehicles, hazmat vehicles and mobile foam apparatus. NFPA 1906 encompasses requirements for wildland fire apparatus, including those designed primarily to support wildland fire suppression operations.

A key change to both standards is the addition of a new section covering the definition of Ultra-High Pressure (UHP) Fire Pumps and Associated Equipment. Additional changes include updated definitions for Hydrodynamic Testing (NFPA 1901), changes in the pressure test point that allow fire apparatus with 3,000 GPM pumps to meet NFPA 1901 standards, and the addition of water-only discharge valves to units containing foam systems (NFPA 1906).

A proposed new chapter will provide the industry with a firm definition for UHP pumps, helping to prevent the use of systems that do not meet requirements for the fire service. It is similar to existing chapters on fire pumps currently in NFPA 1901 and NFPA 1906. The definition states that a UHP is a pump with a minimum rating of six GPM and over 1100 PSI, while taking water from the apparatus water tank. The pump, discharge plumbing, and all discharge outlets must be capable of withstanding a minimum hydrostatic pressure of 1.4 times the rated pressure and must be tested for a length of 10 minutes. All pre-connected hoses and connections must be able to handle the full rated capacity and pressure of the UHP. The pump intake must permit the full rating of the pump, and the certification test includes a water tank-to-pump flow test that verifies the apparatus can achieve the pump performance from the tank.

Overall, the proposed chapter has been drafted with safety in mind and is designed to ensure that apparatus builders utilize pumps produced specifically for the fire service instead of commercial equipment that does not incorporate the testing and safety of the complete systems.

The 2006 edition of NFPA 1906 required that a water-only discharge valve be included when a foam proportioning system was installed, however this requirement was removed in a later edition. It is now proposed that this requirement be re-added as a new section. It is suggested that the inclusion of a water-only discharge valve can be an asset to wildland firefighter safety as it limits the chance for contamination (by foam) of the water tank during the transfer of water to an apparatus.

Additional Changes
Two additional changes have also been proposed specifically for NFPA 1901. The first of which is a new section that defines hydrodynamic tests and clarifies the differences between hydrostatic and hydrodynamic tests in reference to their use within NFPA 1901. This change allows for testing of pumps with pressures in excess of 500 PSI that could not be tested under the current section on hydrostatic testing.

In 2009, NFPA 1901 combined the chapters covering fire pumps and industrial supply pumps and included 3000 GPM pumps with pumps required to deliver 150 PSI net pump pressure. The second set of proposed revisions creates separate requirements for pumps rated below 3000 GPM and pumps rated at 3000 GPM or greater as follows:

Pumps rated <3000 GPM

  • 100% capacity at 150 psi net pump pressure
  • 70% capacity at 200 psi net pump pressure
  • 50% capacity at 250 psi net pump pressure

Pumps rated =3000 GPM

  • 100% capacity at 100 psi net pump pressure
  • 70% capacity at 150 psi net pump pressure
  • 50% capacity at 200 psi pump pressure

As the number of engines equipped with the horsepower necessary to deliver 3000 GPM at 150 PSI net pump pressure decrease in availability, this proposed change would allow manufacturers to continue building apparatus with 3000 GPM rated pumps with 100 PSI rating.

It is important to note that these changes are only at the proposal stage and have not gone through the due process at the committee level.

For additional information on these standards and other fire industry standards please visit

Jeff Van Meter is a product manager for pumps, pump modules, foam, and CAFS at Hale Products Inc. in Ocala, Florida. Van Meter has worked for Hale Products Inc. for eight years where he started as a design engineer, moved to operations and then sales before taking his position in product management.
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