Since 1977, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) has given recommended guidance for regular hydrant flow testing in the U.S. Though the details change, those testing guidelines have served as a standard practice across the country.
So, what is hydrant flow testing? This short guide will explain the basics of the practice.
What Is It?
A hydrant flow test is exactly what it sounds like. It is the testing of water availability and flow pressure at a fire hydrant. Officials conduct these tests in a few different ways and for a variety of reasons related to water flow and availability needs.
Why Is It Done?
This type of testing is done for several reasons. As you might expect, many of those reasons are related to firefighting activities. It helps officials better understand the availability of water for both firefighting and fire sprinkler systems.
There are reasons unrelated to firefighting, however. It is valuable for officials to maintain a clear understanding of water flow for regular domestic water needs, and these tests help to establish that understanding.
How Is It Done?
There are two types of hydrant flow tests. Single-hydrant flow tests are done attaching gauges to a hydrant valve and opening that valve. Test administrators measure the nozzle pressure to determine the water flow and water availability at this single point.
Two-hydrant flow tests not only test the flow of a single hydrant for firefighting purposes but also test the residue water availability for down-line needs. This is done by adding a residual gauge to the hydrant down the line from the first test hydrant. Knowing how much water is still available after a single hydrant’s use is valuable for several reasons.
When Is It Done?
The current standard set by the NFPA is that flow testing of any underground and exposed pipes no less than one time every five years. The American Water Works Association recommends that all areas (including those that fall under the NFPA standards) be flow tested at least one time every 10 years.
These tests are a vital part of not only firefighting but civil planning, as well. They can be a small hassle to some, but their importance can’t be overstated.