Attention Contractors, Property Managers and Business Owners
TESTING ELECTRIC-POWERED FIRE PUMPS
A review of arc flash incidents involving energized fire pump controllers has caused the Fairfax County Fire Marshal’s Office to update its policies and procedures for the testing of fire pumps.
Testing older fire pump controllers (without built-in meters) requires the taking of amperage and voltage readings with the controller cabinet door open and, therefore, the test must comply with NFPA-70E for arc flash safety. NFPA-70E defines the safe parameters for personnel working on electrical equipment.
The Fairfax County Fire Marshal’s Office is keenly aware of the potential danger posed by electric powered fire pumps to testing technicians and fire inspectors. Therefore, effective April 1, 2018, fire inspectors from the Fairfax County Fire Marshal’s Office will not witness or be a party to any fire pump test in which fire pump testing technicians do not wear proper protective equipment to protect against the potential arc flash hazards. The fire inspectors will be required to withdraw from the test site and not witness the fire pump test. Fire inspectors will only witness fire pump tests if the fire pump testing technicians are properly protected as prescribed by NFPA-70E.
In the event the electric fire pump controller cabinet must be open to conduct the fire pump test and THE FIRE PUMP TECHNICIAN IS WEARING THE PROPER PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT, the fire inspector is required to step outside of the fire pump room for his/her personal safety, but the test will continue. The testing technician and fire inspector will confer later to share the amperage and voltage measurements.
arc flash is generally limited to electric fire pump controllers where the bus voltage is in excess of 120 volts. Lower voltage levels (such as those found in diesel fire pump controllers) normally will not sustain an arc flash.
If any fire pump testing company or property owner/manager has any questions regarding this policy, please do not hesitate to contact Captain II Victor Miller at 703-246-4833 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.