Standpipes: They’re Coming to the “Burbs” Page 2

Standpipe systems are required to have a fire department connection so the fire department can augment the system’s pressure. Any time a hoseline is stretched from a standpipe, the system MUST BE augmented. This will ensure a water supply in the event of a failure on the occupancy side of the system. The fire department connection will have a plate to indicate if the connection is for the sprinkler, standpipe, or both and what part of the building it serves (for example, sprinklers-basement only, standpipe, etc.).

Pump operators must ensure they are supplying the correct system. When supplying a system, they should also monitor the pumps to verify they are flowing water into the system. A zero flow on a flow meter or overheating of the pumps may indicate that water is not flowing. You will need to check for a closed valve or an obstruction in the piping. Initially the pump pressure for this type of building should be 150 psi at the fire department connection. This can be adjusted as required.

Standpipe systems generally will have an auxiliary fire pump to boost the pressure. They can range from small electric pumps to large two-stage pumps powered by diesel engines. This is determined by local conditions such as water supply, flow required, and the size of the system. All fire pumps will have a control panel. This panel will have indicators (lights or gauges) to show the status of the pumps, switches to manually start the pump, and a speed controller to regulate the pressure. The pressure gauge showing system pressure is more often on the piping. Information is usually affixed to the control panel indicating recommended pressure. (For greatest efficiency, the pressure on the building pumps and the pressure at the fire department connection should be the same.) Members should be familiar with these controls. Early in fire operations a member should be sent to check the status of the pumps and start the pump if it has failed to start automatically.

The floor outlets are the point at which we connect our hose to fight the fire. The hose, if there is any, is for occupant use. We avoid this hose for many reasons. It may be too small to flow the water required, it probably hasn’t been tested since it was made, and the nozzle may not meet our needs. Stretching lines from a standpipe is not that much different from stretching from the apparatus; you attach a rubber hose to a metal pipe, open the valve, and flow water through it.

Fire attack in standpipe buildings is very different; large-floor-area searches, limited ventilation, and large-diameter attack line often can tax the resources of a suburban department. To safely operate from a standpipe, there are several critical points to remember (this is by no means a complete list).

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