Fire Pumps on Ships

Fire pumps on ships are crucial machinery that helps seafarers tackle extreme emergency situations involving fire. Known also as Marine Fifi Pumps, they are predominantly centrifugal pumps due to their high flow capabilities, swiftly handling water and foam. Ensuring sufficient water availability at the right pressure is vital during a fire, necessitating multiple firefighting pumps onboard for redundancy.

Main Fire Pumps

Located typically in the ship’s engine room, main fire pumps are electrically driven, ensuring high reliability. They often sit near the general service and ballast pumps, with lines interconnected to the fire main, sometimes doubling as general service and fire pumps. However, they are strictly for non-oil pumping, with changeover arrangements for general service use requiring administration approval.

The required number and capacity of fire pumps depend on the ship type and gross tonnage. For instance, passenger ships less than 4000 GT need at least two independent fire pumps, while those above 4000GT require a minimum of three. Cargo ships follow a similar pattern, with the size determining the number and capacity, ensuring a water discharge capability significantly exceeding that of bilge pumps.

Credit: Adapted from Marineinsight.

Emergency Fire Pumps

As per SOLAS Chapter I-2, regulation 4, cargo ships over 2000 GT and passenger ships over 1000 GT must have an emergency fire pump located outside the engine room. These pumps, possibly driven by diesel engines or electric motors from emergency generators, provide a crucial backup, ensuring functionality despite main pump failures.

Operating Fire Pumps

Fire pumps can be operated from various ship locations, including the fire control station, engine control room, and bridge, highlighting the importance of accessibility and operational flexibility during emergencies.


Maintenance and Checks

Routine checks and maintenance are essential for ensuring fire pump readiness, involving bearing lubrication, temperature monitoring, gland packing conditions, and mechanical seal integrity. Operational tests, particularly during emergency drills, are crucial for verifying functionality.

Fire pump pipelines, typically galvanized to resist seawater corrosion, require careful handling to maintain integrity. In cold conditions or during periods of disuse, additional precautions, like draining to prevent freezing, are necessary.

The role of fire pumps on ships is indispensable for maritime safety, requiring rigorous standards, regular maintenance, and operational readiness to address fire emergencies effectively.

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