Flow Testing Services
In order for any fire sprinkler system to work properly, it needs to be supplied by an adequate water supply with sufficient pressure and flow that meets or exceeds the demand requirements of the system.
The quantity of water that is available is known as fire flow. It also needs to be able to sustain that amount of water for a specific length of time — flow duration.
These requirements are clearly specified in the NC Fire Code and are a critical element of the overall design of the fire sprinkler system. Flow Testing of fire hydrants at the building location is required during the early design stages of the project, in order to determine whether the water supply meets the fire flow and flow duration requirements.
How We Test
Flow testing typically involves testing two hydrants in a given area, one for static and residual pressure, and one for flow. While this is not always required, The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends it as a best practice, as individual hydrant testing does not give complete or satisfactory results.
We start by determining which hydrants will be used for flow testing. Considerations must be taken to choose hydrants that will not create traffic problems or cause damage to the surrounding property due to excessive water flow.
Time of day is also an important factor, as it is critical that the reading be taken during a time with ordinary water demand. For residential buildings, this would be during times when residents are home, such as in the morning or early evening. For commercial or industrial buildings, sometime during regular business hours is ideal to ensure the most accurate results.
How We Use the Data
Assuming the build site meets the requirements, the data that we collect during Flow Testing then helps to inform the layout and design of our sprinkler systems, in order to maximize its effectiveness. According to the ASPE, “Incorrect readings can result in additional fire pumps for under-designed systems or costly over-design in pipe sizing.”
Changes to the area, new buildings, changes in usage, deterioration over time, and other issues can impact the effectiveness of fire hydrants. Therefore, even after the building is complete, we still recommend fire hydrants be tested periodically to ensure that they continue to meet the requirements and will perform as expected in the case of an emergency.
Having these tests performed at a property periodically can also bring to light any issues with the hydrants or water systems so that they can be proactively repaired and kept in top working order.
If you are located in North Carolina and would like to learn more about Flow Testing Services, please contact us and our team will be happy to help.