Suburban Standpipe Operations

Lance Peeples discusses the different types of standpipes, standpipe kits and how to use them.


With the advent of the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s came the inevitable consequence of suburban sprawl. As populations shifted from older inner cities to the suburbs, developers realized the need for mega-malls, office buildings, hotels, high-rack storage warehouses and high-rise apartment...


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Now that we've assembled the necessary equipment into a standpipe kit, it only remains for us to discuss how to use it.

The first problem that usually presents itself is finding the fire. If detection devices have transmitted the alarm, it is usually a simple matter to begin the search in the zone in which the alarm has sounded. However, access or convenience stairs may allow a fire on a lower floor to activate a detector on an upper floor. If firefighters take the elevator to the floor below the alarm, they may actually be reporting to the fire floor. Get off the elevator at least two floors below the suspected location of any fire.

If building occupants report the location of the fire as being Apartment 1111, the company officer should stop at the 10th floor and locate Apartment 1011. By counting the doors back to the stairway, the officer knows which way to turn and how many doors must be passed before reaching the fire door. That also assures the officer that he can also assure himself that the stairwell nearest the fire apartment has been chosen.

While the officer completes the size-up, another member connects the attack line to the outlet on the floor below the fire. Before connecting the hose, however, the firefighter probes the outlet to make sure there is nothing stashed there and should remove any pressure-reducing devices. Once the line has been connected, any excess hose should be flaked up the stairway, so as to allow gravity to assist in advancing the line. When the officer returns, the line can be charged and any excess air bled off. Upon the arrival of the forcible entry team from the truck company, it is a simple matter of advancing the line from the stairwell into the public hall, forcing the door and giving it a dash.

In the event that members are using standpipes located in large warehouse occupancies, it should be noted that many outlets are located a distance from exits. In these cases, members should stretch a utility rope from the exit to the standpipe outlet. This will prevent them from getting lost in blinding smoke should conditions suddenly deteriorate.

Having discussed the tactical use of the standpipe, all that remains is a review of the pump operator's role. Norman suggests the following engine pressures: for a one- to 10-story building, 150 psi for a solid-tip nozzle and 200 psi for a fog nozzle; add 50 psi for each additional 10 stories.

By using a double female and a siamese adapter, a pump operator can pump into a first-floor outlet in the event the fire department connection is inoperative. By familiarizing themselves with the capabilities of the standpipes in their jurisdiction, firefighters can reduce fire losses and life hazards in these high-hazard occupancies.


Lance Peeples has been a firefighter for the city of Webster Grove, MO, for 10 years. He holds a bachelor's degree in public administration and an associate's degree in fire protection technology.