Standpipe systems consist of a fixed piping system and hose valve connections to preclude the need for long hose lays within tall or large buildings. Water is fed into these systems either through an automatic water supply or manually through a fire department connection. The system delivers water to hose connections throughout the building, usually in enclosed or exterior stairs (Figure 4.1). Firefighters then extend hose lines from these hose connections to conduct interior fire suppression operations. Standpipes are, in effect, a critical component in the supply of water to interior firefighting crews. Deficiencies can have disastrous consequences, such the loss of three firefighters in the 1991 Meridian Plaza fire in Philadelphia.
Systems are classified according to usage: fire department use (Class I), occupant use (Class II), or combined fire department and occupant use (Class III). The use of Class II and III systems has declined over the years due to the training and equipment requirements associated with them. The majority of systems installed today are Class I. Consequently, this chapter will focus on Class I systems.
Building and fire codes specify when designers should incorporate standpipe systems. This can be a locally written code or an adopted model code such as the IBC, the IFC, NFPA 5000, or NFPA 101. Standpipe systems requirements are based on building height or interior travel distances. In addition, standards such as those issued by OSHA require standpipe systems in certain situations.
The IBC and IFC include water supply requirements and some design details. The complete installation standard for standpipe systems is NFPA 14, Standard for the Installation of Standpipe and Hose Systems. This standard allows options for hose connections, valving, and other design features. This chapter illustrates ways that designers can implement various options in different situations to assist the fire service.
The considerations in the section, Water Supply Control Valves, on page 29, regarding valves also apply to standpipe systems. Fire department connections are covered in Chapter 5 on page 41.