Firepumps – what you need to know about fuel

2011 saw the introduction of EU Directive 2009/30/EC. This legislation redefined the makeup of diesel fuel, or gas oil, used across Europe. Whilst this legislation was mainly designed to reduce harmful emissions, it also increased the use of bio-diesel across a wide range of applications.

The debate continues about just how ‘green’ biodiesel is, but one thing widely accepted and this is that it can cause serious problems for those having to store diesel for long periods of time.

Fire pumps need clean fuel

Fire pumps save lives and preserve facilities after fire has knocked out a site’s main electricity supply. But they only work if their fuel is kept clean.

The risks:

  • Inadequate fire protection
  • Property damage
  • Loss of life
  • Damaged equipment and fire pump downtime
  • Environmental and financial cost of disposing of bad fuel


Bio-diesel is hygroscopic, meaning that it absorbs moisture from the atmosphere. This absorption can have a number of knock on effects. Firstly it can promote and accelerate fuel instability, causing it to break down into acids, gums and other particles. Secondly, it can provide an environment for the growth of fungi and bacteria in fuel, also known as diesel bug. All of which, can lead to excessive fuel system wear, corrosion and filter blockage.  Add into this cocktail the dirt and grit that are often found in fuel tanks due to bad fuel transfer practices and you have the potential for serious problems.

The close tolerances and high fuel pressures found in today’s diesel fuel systems mean that engines are venerable to fuel borne contamination, relatively low levels  can cause reliability and efficiency issues, or even worse – engine failure.

To avoid these risks, so what should you do?

1)  Have your diesel storage tanks sampled and tested for water contamination, ISO4406 fuel cleanliness (particle count) and for microbes (bacteria and fungi).

2)  If any of these contaminants are found, your fuel and fuel tank should be cleaned – your fuel can usually be cleaned in situ without the need to disposal or removal. Also inspect fuel storage facilities for further contamination risks.

3)  For ongoing fuel conditioning, best practise is now considered to be the installation of a fuel polishing system onto your storage tanks.  Although you could also consider the use of fuel additives

4)  Put a regular fuel sampling and testing procedure in place.

For expert help and advice on fuel contamination – call +44 (0) 121 511 0470