Guide to Reliable Fire Pump Testing with Test Headers

How important are fire pumps for your protection against fire? Well, important enough to immediately kick into action and become a line of defense whenever there is an emergency!

Now, it can be the worst nightmare for anyone to get caught in such a situation, knowing that their pump is not ready for the task

So, if you do not want to put your life and property at stake, make sure the fire pumps in your premises undergo regular testing as outlined in NFPA 25, and for easy and proper testing, you should have the best equipment in your hands

One of the most common methods of testing is the use of a fire pump test header arrangement. This is the equipment that lets a large quality of water flow through multiple hoses

You will find them in the form of a manifold with hose valves to which one needs to attach the hose pipes while testing. Let us explore their importance and requirements in detail.


Importance of Fire Pump Test Headers in the Flow Test

Performing an annual flow test is necessary to check the condition and fitness of fire pumps in your facility. This test helps you measure the pump’s water pressure and volume 

In addition, you will become aware of any issues with the water supply as well, such as blockages or closed valves.

Besides, there are multiple testing arrangements you can choose from according to the requirement of your fire protection system, availability of compatible equipment, and manpower expertise.  

The common arrangement uses a test header, usually mounted on the exterior of the building,  to which hoses and nozzles are connected. The test is performed by discharging water into the atmosphere with appropriate pressure and flow readings taken. 

Here, the header is fed from the pipe originating from the fire pump discharge.

NFPA 25 requires the test to be conducted in three conditions-

This is done by qualified personnel who knows the ins and outs of the fire pump and have the proper equipment

The no-flow test requires no water through the header, whereas 100% flow is done by flowing 100% of the fire pump-rated flow through the header and enough test valves, and 150% flow includes flowing 150% of the fire pump rated flow through the fire pump test header and more test valves.

As test headers are the crucial part of annual flow testing, you should pay attention to their build while choosing and installing them

Following the guidelines of NFPA 25, you will be able to do an accurate assessment of fire pump performance If done properly, this method has proved to be accurate; however, it is not considered environmentally friendly due to the wastage of water The condition becomes worse if the water has been treated with Chlorine or any other chemical, as in that case, it must be treated before releasing into the ground At places with cold climatic conditions where water may freeze, this arrangement is not recommended as such a heavy discharge may create a hazard of ice

Another Method of Testing using a Fire Pump Test Header

The other method of fire pump testing using a fire pump test header is called closed-loop metering, in which a metering device or flow meter is used to measure the flow

As the name suggests, the arrangement is devised in the form of a loop in such a way that the metering device remains on the pipe loop, and the discharge water from the pump is taken back to the water supply tank

In another arrangement, it can also be circulated back to the suction line that feeds the fire pump 

It appears easy and quick, requiring less manpower and expertise. However, for such arrangements, NFPA 20 requires alternate means of measuring flow, like using a test header. The fire pump test header can lie in series or downstream of the flow meter 

Locating it the right way, as outlined by NFPA 20, ensures an accurate assessment of the fire pump’s flow

While a closed-loop arrangement appears to be the best way to test fire pumps, it does not tell you much about the water supply. However, during the flow test, you should be able to check the complete system as a whole, not just the fire pump.

So, we have concluded that it is better to use the Test Header arrangement for complete flow tests and use the closed-loop ones for interim tests.

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Guidance on Fire Pump Test Header Requirements

When it comes to your protection, you want to have a prompt and reliable system in place to combat any disaster. And any negligence in the testing and maintenance of this equipment may result in an unexpected loss

So, be ready with the best in your hands! You already know the importance of test headers in the flow test. Well, there is more to it!

There are certain fire pump test header requirements you should be aware of

The test headers are best put on the exterior wall near the pump room. However, these may be capped to prevent theft in high-crime areas. This arrangement helps the testing company to easily connect hose lines that can be run safely to discharge locations like sewer drains 

Okay, another thing, the header stays on the discharge side of the pump. The flow from here is generally measured by a pitot gauge or other flow-measuring device that one places in the flow stream. 

The water measurement should be cataloged with care. The traditional way of measurement involves a pilot tube being placed in the water stream at a certain angle and a defined distance from the opening. 

For manual operation, you will require an experienced person, and the hoses should be secured properly.

Apart from the guidelines stated above, it is also crucial for you to know that the dimensions of the pipe leading to the fire pump test header and the number of hose connections will depend on the pump size 

Once the test is completed using approved devices and methods as per NFPA 25, the results are recorded. Now, a graphical representation is generated that is popular as a pump performance curve

There are many more mandatory procedures to be taken care of in between the above process and after that to ensure the good health of fire pumps in your facility

Make sure the weekly, monthly, and annual tests are performed following the regulations to keep your fire protection system up to date and ready in emergency situations.You can also read more on the flow testing procedure by National Fire Protection Association


Now that you know the importance of fire pump test headers in your fire-resistant system, you must be looking forward to investing in the ones meeting quality standards.

Which one are you going for? Would you like to know more about it?

Tell us in the comment section, and we will try to get back to you soon.


Firestad is the best exterior fire suppression system manufacturer in California. Our patent-pending high-pressure fire protection system protects your entire property, landscaping, and outbuildings and reduces wildfire damage by 96%. Firestad Blogs are written by experienced professionals and curated for an easy understanding for all our readers.

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