Standpipe & High-rise Packs - Part 1

Preparation before an emergency is commonplace to us in the fire service. For fires in standpipe-equipped buildings, this statement couldn't be truer. Is your department prepared to respond to a fire in a standpipe-equipped building? In particular, can...


Preparation before an emergency is commonplace to us in the fire service. For fires in standpipe-equipped buildings, this statement couldn't be truer. Is your department prepared to respond to a fire in a standpipe-equipped building? In particular, can you respond to the typical residential high-rise building and get a line into operation from a position of safety and execute an aggressive interior attack?

The answer may surprise you. In this series of articles we'll look at the preparation and use of the high-rise hose pack "system." Many departments put together a hose pack or standpipe pack that has a mix of all items and then they hope that the weight alone won't kill the member tasked with carrying the load. Worse, many hose packs are set up for failure by limiting the amount of hose available and gallons per minute that the crew can flow.

In this three part article series, we'll break the concept down into the following areas of study:

  • Part 1 is an overview of the high rise hose pack system
  • Part 2 is the method of packing and preparing the system
  • Part 3 is the set up and use of the three piece high-rise hose pack system

We will explore a method of packing high-rise hose packs that is both realistic and offers significant flexibility. Before we actually explore this concept, any fire officer thinking about altering or improving their department operations in standpipe equipped buildings would be best served to read Firefighting Operations in High-Rise and Standpipe Equipped Buildings by District Chief David McGrail of the Denver Fire Department. This exceptional text explores many facets of firefighting in such occupancies and actually formed the building block for my own departments' high-rise hose packs.

This series of articles builds on different experiences and is geared towards a department where staffing is very limited initially, where maneuverability has presented problems in the past and where the other end of the spectrum of high flows and large capacities could face our members.

The Three-Piece Setup

It's not realistic to expect that one person can carry up all of the needed hose and appliances for a fire in a high-rise. Past experience with "hand trucks" proved to be heavy and awkward and hard to maneuver up multiple flights of stairs as well as presenting problems with cabinet space on the apparatus. What was needed was the ability to get a powerful punch into operation relatively fast with a small team and to do so without physically exhausting the members.

The first rule of thumb with the high-rise pack system is that it is a "system." For it to be effective three members must each take a piece of the "system" and assemble on the floor below the fire. This isn't an unrealistic request. Fires are staffing intensive and it is unrealistic to believe that one or two firefighters are going to battle such a fire alone.

Therefore the hose pack system consists of three separate parts that are each carried by a single member (see Photo 1). The weight is equally distributed and as we shall see, and the system permits hands free operation and access. "

  1. The first part of the system is two 50-foot lengths (connected) of 2 1/2-inch hose with an attached 1 3/4-inch smoothbore nozzle on the hose's male coupling (see Photo 2).
  2. The second part of the system is two 50-foot lengths (connected) of 22 1/2-inch hose with an attached inline pressure gauge on the hose's female coupling (see Photo 3).
  3. The third part of the system is a tool bag (see Photo 4) with the following items:
    • One 50-foot length of 1 3/4-inch hose
    • One 15/16-inch smoothbore nozzle attached to the length of 1 3/4-inch hose
    • One wire brush o Half a dozen door chocks
    • One pipe wrench at least 14 inches long
    • One 1 1/2-inch double female adaptor
    • One 2 1/2-inch to 1 1/2-inch reducer
    • One 2 1/2-inch double male adaptor
    • Two spanner wrenches

The Three Items To the Floor Below

Let's see just what this three-person team can bring to the floor below the fire and what their capability is.

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