title>Should We Use Automatic Switching for the Generator and Fire Pump?
Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer - Describing How It Works

Should We Use Automatic Switching for the Generator and Fire Pump?

By Douglas Krantz | Suppression

Should We Use Automatic Switching for the Generator and Fire Pump?


Should We Use Automatic Switching for the Generator and Fire Pump?


Greetings Douglas,

Our condo community is equipped with a Fire Pump. The Fire Pump has a stand-by generator with an Auto Transfer Switch. One morning, many years back, the generator suddenly turned on. But there was no brown-out that time.

With that incident, the building manager of the new property management decided to change the generator's controls from Automatic Transfer Switching to Manual Transfer Switching.

My question is, what are the advantages between Automatic and Manual Transfer for the generator? The problem is, we have no night shift maintenance personnel to operate the generator to supply power to the fire pump, if fires occur.

Likewise, the Fire Sprinkler Monitor Panel is switched off permanently. Therefore, the building guard cannot be alerted or alarmed if fires occur.

The previous property management decided to switch off the Monitor Panel, because if the switch is on, there is an unusual continuous sound in the panel, and our maintenance cannot fix it.

I would appreciate very much to receive your advice on the matter. Thank you.

Thank You, TB

As you pointed out in your email, your fire protection is turned-off.

Fire Pump

It sounds like the Fire Sprinkler Monitor Panel is turned off, so no one will know if the pump is working at all. If there's a fire, there's even a possibility the pump won't automatically turn on.

If someone isn't there to turn it on, the fire pump may not turn on. If there is a real fire, in order to turn the fire suppression pump on, someone has to enter the room once the fire starts to burn the building.

Of course, if no one is on site who can turn on the pump, before the fire suppression pump will can be activated, the fire will continue burning for half an hour to an hour, at least until the qualified person arrives.

Emergency Generator

Brown-outs happen once in a while. Building fires are an extra cause of brown-outs in buildings. Your generator's Automatic Power Transfer Switch, which should automatically turn-on and transfer-to the emergency power generator, has been turned off. That's what a Manual Power Transfer Switch does; it turns on and off the emergency power generator.

In order to turn on the generator once a fire starts, and the lights have failed, someone has to go into a dark basement, find the transfer switches, and turn on the generator.

If no one is on site who can turn on the generator, the fire will continue burning for half an hour to an hour, until the qualified person arrives.

Liability

This is a huge liability issue. People die when the fire protection is turned-off; people go to jail for making decisions to turn-off fire protection.

To protect the lives of everyone in the condo community, and to protect yourself from liability, you might want to put your concerns in writing and provide the concerns to your association. If anyone questions it, they should ask their insurance company and the fire marshal.

The bottom line, though, is to find a sprinkler company who can fix the fire pump and the fire pump's control panel, and to find an electrician who can fix the stand-by generator.

Douglas Krantz





facpdoug@douglaskrantz.com
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