Fire Pump Battery Replacement

There exists an industry fallacy that batteries for fire systems must be replaced every two years irrespective of condition. The reality is that according to Australian Standard AS 1851:2012 this requirement only applies to batteries used for engine start applications.

Fire Pump Batteries

According to Australian Standard AS 1851:2012 there are 12 types of systems or equipment1 that may incorporate batteries that require some form of inspection and/or test. These include;

  1. Alarm Signalling Equipment (Stand Alone) with power supply unit & batteries
  2. Fire Pumpsets (engine start)
  3. For Pumpsets (control batteries)
  4. Fire Detection and Alarm Systems
  5. Special Hazard Systems
  6. Smoke Hazard Systems
  7. Smoke Alarms & Heat Alarms
  8. Emergency Warning Systems
  9. Stand-alone Intercom systems
  10. Automatic Smoke & Heat Vents
  11. Fire Curtains & Smoke Curtains
  12. Motorised Relief Openings, Windows & Shutters

Fire Pumpset - Engine start batteries

This article covers the requirements for the routine servicing requirements of batteries that are used for engine start applications for fire pumpsets, also known as compression ignition (diesel) driven pumpset(s).

Frequency Table Number Item No Item Action Required & pass/fail requirement Result
Monthly 3.4.1 1.7 Compression ignition (diesel) driven pumpset(s) Monitor and engine start batteries.
  1. CHECK monitor and engine start batteries and enclosures for corrosion, physical damage and secure mounting.
 
  1. REMOVE any corrosion from battery terminals as required.
 
  1. TEST the float charge voltage of both the monitor and engine start batteries and record result.
Float Charge Voltage ___ V
  1. CHECK electrolyte levels and top up with distilled water as necessary.
 
  1. CHECK warning signage and rating (battery capacity) signage (where required).
 
  1. CHECK battery capacity or cold cranking amperage is appropriate.
 
Monthly 3.4.1 1.14 Run test checks
  1. Battery charger or alternator/generator is operating at required value within tolerances.
Charger voltage ___ V
  1. Battery charger power failure alarm operates correctly.
 
Monthly 3.4.1 1.19 Controller batteries
  1. CHECK battery complies with details on identification plate fitted to the enclosure.
 
  1. CHECK battery for corrosion, physical damage and security.
 
  1. CHECK battery enclosure for corrosion, and the ingress of water, dust and insects.
 
  1. CHECK float voltage of the battery and record.
Float voltage ___ V
Yearly 3.4.3 3.4 All batteries
  1. CHECK each battery for any condition likely to indicate an adverse effect on its function.
 
  1. Where batteries are replaced they shall comply with batteries manufactured in accordance with AS 4029 (series).
 
Yearly 3.4.3 3.5 Engine start batteries REPLACE all engine-starting batteries after a maximum of 2 years service, irrespective of condition. Record date of replacement on the new battery and the date the batteries were replaced in the service record. Date: DD/MM/YY
Yearly 3.4.3 3.6 Control batteries When the battery has not been replaced in the previous two years, verify the battery condition by carrying out a battery discharge test in accordance with Appendix F. Date last replaced: DD/MM/YY
Load Current ___ A
Final Voltage ___ V
Yearly 3.4.3 3.7 Battery charger Test and record battery charger voltage output. Charger voltage: ___ V

 

What is the difference between a START battery and a CONTROL battery?

For fire pump (electric or compression ignition (diesel) driven) there are TWO types of batteries used.  These are;

Fire Pumpset - Control Batteries
A control battery can be found on an electric driven fire pump-set AND and a compression ignition (diesel) driven pumpset.  In simple terms a control battery is a type of stationary battery used to provide a source of stored energy necessary to operate the pump controller for a fire pump-set.

Fire Pumpset - Engine Start Batteries
An engine start battery conversely is a type of battery used for the rapid release of energy (current) measured in Ampere necessary for motor start applications. A engine start battery will have a capacity rating measured in Cold Cranking Amps ("CCA") or Marine Cranking Amps (MCA").

Dual Use (Control & Engine Start Batteries)
Modern fire pump-sets are typically fitted with batteries which are generally configured with a primary and secondary battery arrangement where both batteries (engine start and control batteries) can be used for the engine start application. In this case the battery used must be an engine start battery with a CCA rating.

Electric Fire Water Pump vs. Diesel Fire Water Pump

Electric Fire Water Pump

An electric fire water pump is fitted with standby batteries in the event there is a mains power failure that enables the status of the pump including the "mains power fail" alarm signal to operate.  When installing batteries for an electric fire water pump, the battery must be a "standby battery".

Diesel Fire Water Pump

For diesel fire water pumps, the pump is fitted with a dual set of batteries;

  • Primary Battery (12 volt systems) or Batteries (24 volt systems); and
  • Secondary Battery or batteries.

A diesel fire water pump is fitted with two sets of batteries that in most circumstances operate as the motor start battery and the standby battery.  Where the primary motor start batteries fail, the secondary (backup) batteries are engaged.

 

How often should fire pump-set batteries be replaced?

Table 3.4.3 of Australian Standard AS 1851:2012  provides two different criteria for batteries used for fire pump-sets as follows;

  1. Engine start batteries
    REPLACE all engine-starting batteries after a maximum of 2 years service, irrespective of condition. Record date of replacement on the new battery and the date the batteries were replaced in the service record.
  2. Control batteries
    When the battery has not been replaced in the previous two years, verify the battery condition by carrying out a battery discharge test in accordance with Appendix F of the Standard.

Engine Start Batteries

Most modern fire pumps have a primary battery (12v systems) or two batteries (2 x 12v batteries in series to combine to make a 24v battery system) used for engine start applications.

These same systems will typically have a secondary (backup) battery or batteries that in their normal condition will serve as the control batteries but in an emergency situation may also be used as an engine start battery.

In this case all batteries MUST be replaced every two years irrespective of condition.

Control Batteries

It is more common to see an electric fire pump fitted with a single battery (control battery) that is used as a form of stationary battery. In this case, where the battery has not been replaced in the previous two years, a competent technician should carry out a battery discharge test in accordance with Appendix F of the Standard to verify its condition.

Selecting the correct capacity Engine Start Battery for a fire pumpset

An engine start battery is rated in Cold Cranking Amps or ("CCA") and it is the measure of how much energy (current) a battery can deliver for 30 seconds at −18° Celsius or 0° Fahrenheit while maintaining a voltage above 7.2 volts.

Determining the correct CCA rating for a battery must take into consideration a range of factors including engine size connected loads and ambient temperature.

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