A standpipe system is an arrangement of piping, valves, hose connections, and allied equipment installed in a building or structure, with the hose connections located in such a manner that water can be discharged in streams or spray patterns through attached hose and nozzles, for the purpose of extinguishing a fire, thereby protecting a building or structure and its contents in addition to protecting the occupants.
Standpipe systems are designed to provide a pre-piped water system for building occupants or the fire department. Standpipe systems are designed to provide water for hose lines in strategically placed locations inside a building or structure.
Laying a firehose up a stairwell takes time, and this time is saved by having fixed hose outlets already in place. There is also a tendency for heavy wet hoses to slide down when placed on an incline (such as the incline seen in a stairwell), whereas standpipes do not move. The use of standpipes keeps stairwells clear and is safer for exiting occupants.
Standpipes go in a direct up and down direction rather than looping around the stairwell, greatly reducing the length and thus the loss of water pressure due to friction loss. Additionally, standpipes are rigid and do not kink, which can occur when a firehose is improperly laid on a stairwell.
Standpipe systems also provide a level of redundancy, should the main water distribution system within a building fail or be otherwise be compromised by a fire or explosion.
Some older buildings only have standpipe systems while many newer buildings will have a combination system, which supplies the fire sprinkler system and the standpipe system. They are most common in large floor area buildings, where most of the facility may be some distance from an outside entrance, and in multi-story buildings to prevent long lengths of hose in stairwells and on the ground.
Standpipes are a critical tool that requires preplanning on the first responding apparatus in order to be used effectively. Standpipe systems vary in design, use, and location. These factors vary based on the adopted code; the use, size, and type of building they are installed in.
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