Friday, March 11, 2016

Standpipes - You've Seen Them, But Do You Know What They Do?

Walking San Francisco streets last weekend, I was struck by the pipes coming out of the walls of buildings.  Things I'd seen many times but never really paid much attention to.  So, camera in hand, I paid more attention.  They come in lots of varieties and they're labeled 'standpipe' or sometimes 'dry standpipe.'

From Fireking:
Wet and Dry Standpipe Systems 
Description: A Standpipe is a type of rigid water piping which is built into multi-story buildings in a vertical position, to which fire hoses can be connected, allowing manual application of water to the fire. Within buildings standpipes thus serve the same purpose as fire hydrants. Well maintained fire standpipe systems are highly reliable and provide people protection as well as property protection. Fire King Fire Protection, Inc. specializes in Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Fire Sprinkler Systems. 
Dry standpipe: Dry standpipes fixed into buildings, the pipe is in place permanently with an intake usually located near a road or driveway so that a fire engine can supply
water to the system. The standpipe supply pipe extends into the building to supply fire-fighting water to the interior of the structure via hose outlets, often located between each floor in stairwells in high rise buildings. 
Dry standpipes are not filled with water until needed in fire-fighting. Fire fighters often bring hoses in with them and attach them to standpipe outlets located along the pipe throughout the structure. 
Wet standpipe: Wet Standpipes are filled with water and is [sic] pressurized at all times. In contrast to dry standpipes, which can be used only by firefighters, wet standpipes can be used by building occupants. Wet standpipes generally already come with hoses so that building occupants may fight fires quickly.

And after reading about the standpipes, I realized I needed to get a picture of the hoses inside a building.  Fortunately I was in a building and found the hose.

A 2007 NYTimes article, after a fatal Deutsche Bank fire, caused by bad standpipes, went on to explain standpipes and their maintenance in more detail.
"A typical standpipe system begins with the street-level connection, known as a Siamese, which is connected to pipes that run vertically or horizontally inside the building and connect to vertical pipes that run to the top of the building. The vertical pipes are what most people think of as the standpipe.
Standpipes are required in all buildings in New York City that are more than 75 feet tall, or higher than six stories, Kate Lindquist, a spokeswoman for the Buildings Department, said.
The vertical pipes, often painted red, are exposed in a building’s stairwells, and there is a connection on each floor to which firefighters can hook up hoses.
Water, and water pressure, are supplied by the Fire Department. When there is a fire in a building equipped with a standpipe system, the first engine company to arrive connects a hose to the nearest hydrant and another to the Siamese connection in front of the building, according to Firefighter Jim Long, a department spokesman. The pumper boosts the pressure of the water being fed from the hydrant to the Siamese and then to the vertical standpipe."
It also says standpipes were first used in New York City.
". . . standpipes originated in New York City about the time of the Civil War, along with sprinkler systems, 'as buildings grew taller and as the philosophy of firefighting evolved.' Before that time, he explained, 'most fires were fought from the outside.'”

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