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  • Shiv Gaikwad

The significance of the jockey pump in a Fire Protection system

Updated: Jan 13

Absolutely, you might be aware of the term "Jockey pump" in the realm of Fire Protection, but you may not be completely versed in its complexities, operational principles, or its pivotal role within the system. Allow me to clarify what the jockey pump involves and underscore its importance in guaranteeing the optimal functioning of the entire Fire Protection system.

What is the jockey pump?

The jockey pump in fire protection systems is a low-flow pump operating at a pressure exceeding the system’s nominal pressure. Typically of the multicellular variety, it is driven by an electric motor.

This category of pump should not be dimensioned for alternative purposes such as cleaning vehicles, irrigating gardens, washing sidewalks, etc. It should not even be sized to support any fire suppression system, EIB, sprinkler, etc.

The term "jockey" signifies the capacity of this pump type to rapidly convey water through confined or restricted spaces.

What is a jockey pump for?

It is advisable to dimension it within a flow rate range of 2 to 6 m3/h so that, upon activation, it operates for a brief duration and promptly receives the stop command.

It is engineered to mitigate minor losses during operation. This underscores its significance, as other firefighting pumps are not tailored for this function, and regulations mandate that shutdowns be executed manually. In other words, they will persist in operation until halted by an operator or emergency personnel.

What does a pressure maintenance system consist of?

A pressure maintenance system typically comprises an electric motor-driven pump, jockey pump, control panel, and in the most recent version of standard 23,500:2021, the hydropneumatic accumulator has been incorporated. The primary purpose of the accumulator is to maintain the water distribution network for fire protection systems at full capacity and pressure.


Why is so important to keep the network pressurized?

It is crucial that the fire network is pressurized for the following reasons:

·         To ensure pressurized water is available in various systems comprising the fire protection installation (hydrant network, standpipes, sprinklers, etc.) during emergency situations.

·         Using pressure switches or pressure sensors, identify a potential decline in pressure within the network, triggering the emergency initiation of pumps.

As previously stated, the more modest the flow of the jockey pump and the reduced volume of the accumulator, the more efficiently the pressure maintenance system operates. This ensures that the frequency of continuous starts and stops is kept to a minimum. According to the UNE 23.500:2021 standard, the cessation of the jockey pump should be postponed for a duration ranging between 10 and 20 seconds from the moment the pressure sensor (pressure switch) issues the stop command.

For the reasons mentioned above, the UNE 23,500:2021 standard has restricted the capacity of hydropneumatic accumulators to a maximum of 85 liters.


How the jockey pump works

As previously mentioned, the jockey pump senses the pressure in the fire network and elevates it when it detects that it has fallen below a specified pressure threshold to bring it back up.

Consequently, the jockey pump commences operation automatically and ceases automatically upon reaching the predetermined pressure level.

A jockey pump is an electrically driven pump that, akin to the primary pumps, extracts water from the water source and delivers it to the fire protection network.

Initiation occurs automatically, akin to the primary pumps; however, a jockey pump has the capability to cease operation automatically upon achieving the designated pressure, as dictated by the start/stop pressure switches.

The jockey pump typically utilizes a shared electrical control panel with one of the primary electric pumps. This panel allows for the selection of automatic or manual operating modes, monitoring the pump's start count, and providing crucial information about potential frequent starts attributed to leaks in the installation.


Importance of the jockey pump in a Fire Extinguishing system

This pump is vital both when the system is idle and following its operation.

It will activate with varying frequency depending on the extent of installation losses. If it starts continuously, a thorough inspection of the entire installation is advisable to identify potential leaks.

In the event of a system activation, such as when a sprinkler network is triggered, the larger flow and size pumps will come into play. It is also customary for the jockey pump to engage if there is a pressure drop.

For any technical inquiries in this regard, feel free to reach out to our engineers and experts, and we'll be delighted to assist you.

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