The 6-foot rule is a prominent aspect of life these days. Less prominent, but also important is the IRC’s (International Residential Code) 18-inch rule. When installed in garages, water heaters are mounted on a stand. Electrical outlets are located at least 18 inches off the floor.
The IRC states, “equipment and appliances having an ignition source shall be elevated such that the source of ignition is not less than 18 inches above the floor in hazardous locations… and private garages…” (IRC G2408.2)
Installing equipment according to this code hinders hazards of explosions and fires caused by the ignition of flammable vapors and other combustibles that congregate near the ground. Certain gases and vapors, which might be commonly found in a garage, pose significant danger in proximity to ignition sources such as a pressure switch or switches inside the motor of a residential fire pump. Despite the fact, that even if these gases are not being stored in the garage, the inevitable conglomeration of leaves, lint and litter can pose a fire hazard when accumulating near an ignition source
An ignition source is defined as: “A flame, spark or hot surface capable of igniting flammable vapors or fumes. Such sources include appliance burners, burner ignitions, and electrical switching devices.” The NFPA Journal stated in its November issue that “the incidents that make it into headlines are just the tip of the iceberg. An NFPA report released in late 2018 found that, on average, natural gas ignites 4,200 home fires each year in the United States alone.”
Almost all residential fire pumps are regulated by a pressure switch and operate via switches inside the motor. Since these components meet the definition of ignition sources, residential fire pumps must be installed at least 18 inches off the floor when inside private garages.
This is the fundamental reason Talco designed the Home Hydrant® to house the pump, pressure switch and all electrical connections at least 18 inches off the floor. Why else would a system be designed this way? Not all residential fire pumps are installed in the garage. What about basements?
Basements are known to flood occasionally. Typically, not more than a few inches. But this is another indicator that residential fire pumps, when installed in a basement, should be 18 inches off the floor. Contractors installing these systems can easily do better than the NFPA-13D rule, which requires the pump only be located 1 ½ inches off the floor. If the pump motor and electrical components are submerged and not replaced, it is unlikely they will operate when needed, and they are needed. Danger is easily avoided by elevating the pump.
Residential fire pump systems are not only installed in garages or basements. Closets and mechanical rooms are also common caves concealing the infrastructure that keeps a home safe. The fuel load that accumulates in some homes is astounding. Boxes, newspapers, magazines, and all manner of other swarf and debris stack or pile to the celling leaving hardly enough space to walk. The television show “Hoarders” is a real eye opener. Not all homeowners live in the houses they own, outsourcing storage decisions to that of their tenants. Just imagine the tinder that might accumulate at ground level in any untraveled storage space. Since it is impossible to know whether this might happen, it is best practice to elevate the pump, keeping its ignition sources out of these potential, lowly, hazardous combustion zones.
Additionally, the motors driving these pumps are cooled by a fan which sucks air (and dust if surrounded by it) through the motor housing, past the capacitor switch, playing Russian Roulette with the very piece of equipment intended mitigate fire hazards. The mixture of dust and an ignition source is a dangerous combination. Play it safe and elevate.
Talco’s Home Hydrant® integrates the pump into the tank at least 18 inches off the floor offering the natural solution to this hazard. For all the DIY folks installing residential fire pumps separate from the storage tank, the pump may be mounted on a stand to keep it 18 inches off the floor and out of the danger zone.
Be safe out there friends. Observe the 6’ rule. And keep IRC’s 18-inch rule in mind as well.