Understanding the Ins and Outs of Flow Testing

In the event of a residential or commercial fire, an adequate water supply with sustained pressure is crucial to the success of the fire department. Beyond the needs of local emergency personnel, fire hydrant testing may be required along with standard flow testing to evaluate the development of new waterline extensions and replacements or upgrades. Checking the water flow can also help determine the overall condition of the distribution system as it can detect closed valves.

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Two Agencies Primarily Rely on Accurate Information

Water flow testing benefits the fire department and the local municipality. Testing aids responders in planning, training and marking hydrants. This creates an efficient and well-executed fire response. Municipalities use water data to calibrate their hydraulic models and figure out the pressure production capabilities of their water distribution system.

Testing Should Occur Routinely

The American Water Works Association advises that all areas of a system be flow tested every ten years. The National Fire Protection Association encourages all exposed and underground piping to be tested every five years.

Two Tests for Good Data

The Main Capacity Test is used to determine the availability of the water supply within the main. This is useful in designing a fire suppression system for residential or commercial installation. A Hydrant Capacity Test determines the flow from a hydrant and its capacity to be effective in an emergency situation. This is commonly used by fire department personnel.

Keeping Records is Half the Battle

The recommended schedule for testing might be over the span of many years, but increasing the frequency of the testing is helpful. However, maintaining records and analyzing the data is even more important.

Knowing the how and why of flow testing is important to engineers and others involved in city planning, as well as those who have an interest in fire safety. New software and tech exists that makes it easier for research and analysis, and offers more consistency and accuracy in results.