NFPA 20 Safety Standard

NFPA 20 is the safety standard governing the installation of stationary fire-pumps for fire protection. It specifies guidelines for selecting and installing fire pumps to ensure they deliver adequate and reliable water supplies in the event of a fire.

NFPA is short for “National Fire Protection Association”. This body covers all firefighting equipment in any building, platform or anywhere else in the US. It is widely accepted worldwide as a controlling document.

NFPA 20 governs fire pumps

NFPA 20 has little or no input into the actual construction of the system (such as types of fittings and tubing or paint). It is mainly concerned with how it should work. The construction of the system is more often laid out by a design consultancy or company standards such as the Shell DEPS (Design and Engineering Practices).

Although NFPA 20 applies to fire pumps in all walks of life, its relevance to IPU and IPU customers is in the installation of fire pumps on oil and gas platforms.

The standard stresses the importance of having a back up method of starting an engine in case the primary starting method fails. Fire pumps normally use a battery-powered electric starter as their back up starting method but battery power can be unreliable, especially in offshore environments. This makes a fire pump’s secondary starting method critical.


The importance of NFPA 20

The NFPA 20 safety standard sets out strict guidelines for the installation of hydraulic starting applications. These guidelines offer the supplier a documented guide illustrating the necessary requirements to meet the proposed guidelines throughout the installation.


NFPA 20 and hydraulic starting

Several parts of NFPA 20 apply specifically to hydraulic starting. The following paragraphs come from NFPA 20 Section

  • Where hydraulic starting is used, the accumulators and other accessories shall be enclosed or so protected that they are not subject to mechanical injury.
  • The enclosure shall be installed as close to the engine as practical so as to prevent serious pressure drop between the engine and the enclosure.
  • The diesel engine as installed shall be without starting aid except that as required in
  • The diesel as installed shall be capable of carrying its full rated load within 20 seconds after cranking is initiated with the intake air, room ambient temperature, and all starting equipment at 32°F (0°C).
  • Hydraulic starting means shall comply with the following conditions:
    • The hydraulic cranking device shall be a self-contained system that will provide the required cranking forces and engine starting revolutions per minute (rpm) as recommended by the engine manufacturer.
    • Electrically operated means shall automatically recharge and maintain the stored hydraulic pressure within the predetermined pressure limits.
    • The means of automatically maintaining the hydraulic system within the predetermined pressure limits shall be energized from the main bus and the final emergency bus if one is provided.
    • Engine driven means shall be provided to recharge the hydraulic system when the engine is running.
    • Means shall be provided to manually recharge the hydraulic system.
    • The capacity of the hydraulic cranking system shall provide not fewer than six cranking cycles of not less than 15 seconds each.
    • Each cranking cycle — the first three to be automatic from the signalling source — shall provide the necessary number of revolutions at the required rpm to permit the diesel engine to meet the requirements of carrying its full rated load within 20 seconds after cranking is initiated with intake air, room ambient temperature, and hydraulic cranking system at 32°F (0°C).
    • The capacity of the hydraulic cranking system sufficient for three starts under conditions described in shall be held in reserve and arranged so that the operation of a single control by one person will permit the reserve capacity to be employed.
    • All controls for engine shutdown in the event of over speed shall be 12 V dc or 24 V dc source to accommodate controls supplied on the engine, and the following also shall apply:
      • In the event of such failure, the hydraulic cranking system shall provide an interlock to prevent the engine from re-cranking.
      • The interlock shall be manually reset for automatic starting when engine failure is corrected.


IPU’s Engine Starting Division

IPU’s engine starting division has worked with various industry sectors including oil and gas, transport, military, marine and mining. IPU’s engine starting division is continually improving starting systems to enhance safety and product reliability. By adhering to the standards laid out in NFPA  20 and 110, IPU ensure all engine starting applications are built to the highest standard.

IPU’s range of starting systems include:


What is the NFPA?

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) is the world’s leading advocate for fire prevention. Established in 1896, the NFPA‘s mission is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and related hazards to protect the quality of life. The NFPA is an authoritative source on public safety and have developed and published more than 300 consensus codes and standards. The published documentation is intended to raise the awareness of fire prevention and to minimize the possibility and effects of fire-related hazards.