Firefighting Back-to-Basics: Standpipe Tool Kits, Part 2

Additional equipment that can be added

Last month we started to explore what makes up a standpipe or high-rise tool kit. There were some other tools or pieces of equipment that can be added to the kit that we did not discuss last time and we’ll consider this month.

Standpipe gear back

In photo 1, you will see a different type of standpipe kit bag being used as opposed to the one pictured last month. There is no standard bag that needs to be used for the kit, but it needs to be practical and useful for the intended purpose. The bag pictured in photo 1 is a smaller type of bag that will accommodate the required tools and equipment needed for standpipe operations. Using a bag that is too long and too large will only hinder the firefighter who is trying to carry it up flights of stairs or into a large box building. Having a smaller bag will be ergonomically efficient for the operation.

Additional equipment that can be added

In photo 2, we can see some of the other equipment that can be added to the standpipe kit. Starting at the right, we can see the 45-degree elbow. This piece of equipment is useful for the transition from the standpipe outlet to the hose system. It allows the hose to come off the standpipe outlet at an angle that will prevent kinking. It also allows for extra room to work on the standpipe connection by extending the threads of the connection further out from the standpipe cabinet so that the rest of the components can be easily added on and operated.

Depending on the department’s operations, two of these elbows can be added into the kit – one that goes on the immediate connection from the standpipe outlet and the second one that goes on after the gate and pressure valve. Some departments will have one 45-degree and one 90-degree elbow for exactly this purpose.  If this is the case, the elbow with the drain valve needs to go on at the end. The advantage of the drain valve is that it allows for draining/depressurizing of the hoseline when needed at the end of the operation.

The next piece of equipment is the 2 ½-inch gate valve. This piece of equipment works in conjunction with the pressure gauge pictured next to it. Even though the standpipe connection is a gate valve or some version of it, it cannot be relied upon to be fully functional for our intended purpose. Once the standpipe connection has been fully opened, it needs to stay opened and not be used to “gate” the standpipe pressure as needed. The added gate valve that we put on can be used to “gate” the standpipe pressure. This may be needed when dealing with fire pumps and pressure-reducing valves that may be improperly set. If the outlet pressure needs to be reduced, it is easier to use the gate valve to accomplish this at the point closer to the hoseline as opposed to at the pump panel on the truck outside.

Another reason is that if the standpipe connection gate valve is rusty, corroded, and old, there is a good chance that when operated, it may malfunction. Once opened, it may stay opened and not be able to close. The added 2 ½-inch gate valve will allow you to shut down the standpipe so that you can disconnect the hose.

Pressure gauge connected to gate valve

As pictured in photo 2 and 3, the pressure gauge is connected to the 2 ½-inch gate valve. As mentioned, these two items work in tandem with each other. It allows the firefighter staged at the standpipe to monitor the outlet pressure for the hoseline. If the pressure is not adequate, the firefighter can either open up the gate valve more or call down to the pump operator to increase the standpipe pressure. If the pressure is too high, the firefighter can gate down the pressure so that it is at the correct number that it needs to be based upon the length of hose and type of nozzle being used.

Some fire departments will use a marking system of whiteout or a black sharpie marker to mark on the glass of the pressure gauge the range of pressure that the outlet needs to be working at. Putting on these little “marks” allows the firefighter to see quickly where the pressure needs to be.

The last item that is pictured in photo 2 is a spare nozzle and tips. There are a few reasons for the adding in this to the kit. The main reason is that if the primary nozzle fails during the operation, the spare nozzle can be easily added on to replace the malfunction nozzle. Another reason is for the backup hoseline. If a second hoseline is needed, there will be a nozzle to use – hose can be brought up to the staging area and the nozzle can be added. Hopefully if there is another hoseline being added, that team will also bring with them their own standpipe kit, which should contain a hoseline with a nozzle.

Having a spare tip of two is also beneficial for the standpipe tool kit. Depending on the departments’ flow requirements, they can have a 1 1/8- or a 1 3/16-inch size tip or a fixed-flow combination tip. If the nozzle of the hoseline is a ball vale as pictured, then the tips can be changed easily without shutting down the line – a bigger or smaller smooth-bore tip can be changed out or a fixed-flow combination tip can be added.

With all the options and equipment that is available, your fire department will need to examine and determine which tools, equipment, type of bag, and number of pieces need to be added to make up the most effective standpipe tool kit. Choose wisely.

Mark van der Feyst

Mark van der Feyst has been in the fire service since 1999 and is a full-time firefighter in Ontario, Canada. He is an international instructor teaching in Canada, the United States, and India, and at FDIC. Van der Feyst is a local level suppression instructor for the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy. He is also the lead author of Residential Fire Rescue (Fire Engineering Books & Video).


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