A fire pump is a piece of equipment that is used to draw water from a source, like a river or pond, increase its pressure (measured in PSI or bar), and deliver it at the site where the fire is occurring. This can be critical in wild land firefighting, or in emergency response scenarios where standard water supplies may not be readily available.
The types of portable fire pumps vary, depending on the type of environment they are designed to protect against. The most common are UL or FM labeled centrifugal, turbine, or positive displacement style pumps arranged to create suction and discharge. They can be operated with a gasoline or diesel engine and have either electric start or recoil backup. They also have a variety of priming options including hand-primer, exhaust primer, or rotary vane.
Most commonly, a fire pump will have a capacity of between 40-80 GPM. This provides enough potential pressure for use with a fire sprinkler system, and limits wasted water by keeping it from escaping the system.
Portable fire pump are often used on construction sites where the building is being built on top of a natural water body or in an industrial setting where flammable materials are present. They are also used on boats and ships in the maritime industry, and can be deployed during natural disasters to help fight fires or manage flooding. Most are designed to be compact, lightweight and easily transported to the site where they will be needed. This allows them to be used where large, heavy fire trucks might not be able to get through without blocking public pathways.