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Why doesn’t General Air Products use Pump Run Timers on our RFP Systems?

We are asked with increasing regularity why we don’t use pump run timers on our RFP residential fire protection pumping systems – the answer cuts directly to the heart of our design and manufacturing philosophy.

 Reliable performance with quality components.

A deceptively simple philosophy for sure – It seems intuitive until you see it play out in a world that wants everything made cheaper. This dichotomy is nothing new to us and we have maintained our integrity at every turn over our 75 years in business.

In regard to run timers we do not use them because we believe that the potential for failure out weighs the potential cost saving benefit.

First off, while run timers are most likely highly reliable devices there is still the potential for a defect or human error to cause a system failure or malfunction. For example, what if the timer is accidentally set for 5 minutes instead of the required 10? Being that the run timer has no explicit fire extinguishing benefit, only a possible cost saving benefit in the event of a fire, we value the pump performance as paramount.

Another reason we don’t use a run timer is that it may work perfectly thereby causing the fire not to be extinguished. If the run timer is set for ten minutes it meets code for sure, however our perspective is that it is possible to do better by leaving it out.

Consider this, a residential pumping system is installed with a 400 gallon tank. The 400 gallons gives the sprinkler system 10 minutes of water flow. If this pump system has a run timer that is working properly it will shut off at 10 minutes exactly.

The 400 gallon tank is typically hooked up to the house water supply with an automatic fill valve. While the 400 gallons of water is draining from the tank the house water supply is refilling the tank. If there is a run timer inline that water will not be used because the pump will be shut off.

What if the fire isn’t out? What if there is still more water to pump?

In our system the pump will continue to run until it is physically shut off. Admittedly this comes with its own problems, the biggest being that the pump could seize when the water supply is exhausted. In this case the pump (not the entire system) will have to be replaced. We view this as a small price to pay for the assured performance.

Residential fire protection is about life safety above all else and our decision to leave the run timer out of our RFP systems reflects our desire to meet that goal through every aspect of our design. (Another example of this philosophy in action is illustrated here in regard to our insistence on the use of stainless steel pumps for our RFP systems versus the use of cast iron pumps which while cheaper are prone to seizure due to corrosion and rust.)