Back to Basics: Understanding the Difference Between Standpipe, Temporary Standpipe and Standpipe Pressurization Alarm

Posted on July, 2 2015

Buildings in general provide various challenges for responding firefighters.  Site access may be poor, water supplies may not be fully developed or easily available, construction equipment and debris may be in the way on the ground and on each floor under construction.  Simply finding one’s way around the job site may be difficult.

All too often, we are asked what the difference is between a standpipe, temporary standpipe and standpipe pressurization.  For the benefit of all, below is a brief description identifying each of the categories:

Standpipe Systems

Standpipe systems are a series of pipe, which connect a water supply to hose connections; they are designed to provide a pre-piped water system for building occupants or the fire department.  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. Standpipe systems are designed to provide fire protection water for hose lines in strategically placed locations inside a building or structure.  They are most common in large floor area buildings, where most of the facility may be some distance from an outside entrance, and in multistory buildings to prevent long lengths of hose in stairwells and on the ground.

Temporary Standpipe System

Temporary standpipe systems are required once the building under construction reaches 75′ in height and must remain until the building is completed or the permanent standpipe system is fully operational. Temporary standpipe systems generally include:

  • At least one standpipe with at least one outlet per floor must be available during construction;
    The fire department connection for supplying the standpipe system must be in an approved and convenient location that is conspicuously marked;
  • The standpipe system must be extended vertically as new floors are added.  The highest hose outlets must be within one floor level of the highest point of construction;
  • The standpipe riser must be securely supported and restrained at each alternate floor;
  • Standpipe hose outlets must be in accessible locations near usable stairs.  They must be protected from physical damage;
  • Standpipe hose outlets must have thread connections matching the local fire departments’ hoses.

Standpipe Pressurization Alarm

The standpipe pressurization alarm utilizes pressure switches and control equipment to annunciate a local audible alarm on site that can be heard during working and non-working hours.  The audible signal of the horn shall be at least 15 dBA above the ambient noise level but no more than 110 dBA. Pressure shall be maintained in the standpipe and cross connections at all times and shall not exceed 25 psig (172 kPag) by utilizing nitrogen or an air compressor with an air dryer.  The alarm shall be automatically activated when the pressure drops below the supervisory pressure or rises above the maximum 25 psig.