Firefighters regularly use electric power for lights, ventilation fans, or other tools. In large or tall buildings they must run extensive lengths of electric cable to feed equipment in remote areas of the building. A fixed, emergency power system built into the building can substitute for these long cable runs, and save time and effort. This is analogous to standpipe systems substituting for long hose lays. In fact, one approach is to require an emergency power system whenever standpipes are required.
Emergency power systems include one or more dedicated electric circuits feeding a series of electrical receptacles (Figure 7.1). They are wired on an emergency circuit in the building and connected to any backup power sources in the building. In this manner, the outlets are continuously available for fire department use, even after the main power is shut down.
The designer should find out first if a jurisdiction requires a firefighter emergency power system and what specific criteria must be met. The plug type the fire department uses for its electrical equipment (Figure 7.2) determines the receptacle type. The wiring methods and over-current protection must meet 29 CFR Subpart S and any other local or state codes.
Receptacles may be located on every level inside each enclosed stairway. Some jurisdictions may require, or prefer, them to be located outside the stairwell. Additional receptacles may be placed to accommodate a maximum length of cable. Or, simply locating one receptacle next to each standpipe fire hose connection (Figure 7.1) may provide good distribution.
Mark receptacles so that firefighters can spot them easily. For example, the designer could specify that each be painted red and labeled “For Fire Department Use Only.”