Class 2 Standpipes…..What For?


L. Chapel


There are three classes of NFPA approved standpipe outlets found across the nation:

Class I – 2.5” hose connection intended for fire department use only.

Class II – 1.5” hose connection (with hose) intended for occupant use only.

Class III – 1.5” hose connection (with hose) intended for occupant use only, and a 2.5” connection intended for fire department use only.

Some nineteen years ago, all the old 1.5” single jacket hose was removed from all Class II hose cabinets in our city. This was to prevent occupants from attempting to fight a fire using these old systems that were equipped with untested hose and very low flow nozzles. This of course rendered these outlets useless, and rightly so.

 While walking through a modern big box store have you ever notice those 1.5” standpipe outlets (SPO) that are attached to product display racks? Have you ever wondered why they are there and who would use them? Figure 4 was taken at a Lowe’s store and is typical of this type of installation.

 If they where meant for the fire department to use during a fire attack, they certainly would have been installed as a 2.5” Class I approved SPO. And even if they were, would you want to hook up to an interior SPO that is on the fire floor whereas a retreat would lead the crew back to the SPO, and not to the safety zone of the building’s entrance/exit? They’re not technically for “occupant use only” (Class II) because these new systems were never outfitted with hose. The best explanation I’ve heard is they’re for the fire service to use once the fire is out and we can then attach a 1.75” hose to perform mop-up. But this is a head scratcher since all we have to do is remove the smooth bore tip from our 2.5” attackline bale and attach our 1.75” mop-up line. So I put these SPO into the same category as all the other Class II standpipe outlets; pretty much as worthless as tits on a boar hog. 

To further clarify my statement about not wanting to hook up to an interior SPO in a big box store (wide-rise) one must consider that in a high-rise, we hook up our attacklines in the stairwell at least one floor below and stretch to the fire floor. This gives us the safety zone of the stairwell to operate from, or retreat to if needed. We really have only one safe option when considering where you stretch your attacklines from. They must be stretched from the engine. The attackline leading from the engine and through the entrance/exit will lead back to the safety zone; and that is to the outside where the engine sits.

Whether it’s a ground floor fire in a wide-rise, a ground floor in a high-rise, or the tenth floor of a high-rise, the concept of the attackline leading to and from a safety zone is illustrated below. Also; just as a high-rise building is considered a commercial structure, so is a wide-rise or big box store. Choose the size of your attacklines accordingly.

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9 Comments on “Class 2 Standpipes…..What For?”

  1. TRUCK 4 Says:

    Great topic Lt. As always a wealth of information. At one of the Fire Nuggets I remember one of the Captains from DFD explain an attack that they use in not only large commercial but also certain types of Highrise situations. What they practiced was putting a 2.5″ gate valve on the portable monitor then added the stacked tips including the stream shaper after the gate valve. In large commercial fire like Home Depot or Walmart they could deploy a certain amount of 3″, possibly 200′, attached to the portable monitor and bring the 2.5″ attack line with and be flowing water @ 1,000 gpm in around a minute and a half. The reason is the first due company needs to flow a large amount of water to get a solid knock on these fires quickly. The portable monitor provides the reach to the fire and to cool the overhead bar-joist trusses and GPM necessary to attack the large fuel load. Then once they have reach an effective knock down they can use the gate valve to shut down the stream and attach the 2.5″ attack line and advance on the fire. If they need to they can retreat back to the monitor, remove the handline and add the tips and resume flowing 1,000 gpm until they can move back in with the 2.5″ line. I think this is a great tactic and it adds all of the safeties mentioned above by Lt. Chaple. Just some thoughts…

  2. Robby O Says:

    I totally agree with not using these 1.5 connections. They do not give us the flow needed to suppress these fires especially in uncompartmented occupancies. I do however, well not disagree but maybe have a differeing opinion on were to connect to the stand pipe. I know that FD practices is to hook up the floor below the fire in order to retreat to a supposed safe haven. However no matter what floor you hook up on once you open the door to the fire floor the entire stairwell is going to be compromised with smoke…so is it really a safe haven??? If you have to retreat you still will have to clear the hose from the fire floor door which is difficult using 2.5, even if it is stretched from the floor below.

    It is my opinon….that utlilizing aggressive PPV in the fire attack stairwell will overcome the smoke and fire allowing you to stretch from any floor. NIST did a study on this and just a couple fans overcame huge winds and pressure coming from the exterior and interior of a fire building.

    I just dont see what tactical adavntage stretching from the floor below can give you. Any thoughts.

    • R-Fr Says:

      Any thoughts? Definitely.

      The studies that NIST did, while impressive do not overcome a wind driven fire as you have stated. In fact witnesses on Governors Island in NYC stated that when the natural harbor winds opposed the MASSIVE fans being used for the NIST tests, the fire and smoke enveloped the fans. I am not going to speak on fans. Ventilation tactics are perhaps the most controversial topics, outside of politically motivated topics, in today’s fire service. PPV/PPA use or not, we need to stretch from the floor below.

      This has been proven by very smart and experienced firefighters whose bodies have been recovered from the fire floor when not hooking up from the floor below. Besides utilizing the thought process that it is okay to hook up on the fire floor, I assume you still want to stretch off a SPO in the stairwell. You will still have the door issue you speak of. Another item is that if you have chosen to use fans to assist you the door will have to be open right?

      One of the several benefits of hooking up below is that the member operating the SPO valve can regulate pressures in a relative safer environment not using precious SCBA air. Not to be sarcastic here but if we follow the thought process of what is going to be the easiest tactic for stretching down a public hall in a high-rise wouldn’t we hook up to the floor above so that we can use gravity to help us move the hose down and in? No. We don’t because the risks aren’t worth it. Firefighting is hard work and at the end of the day it takes discipline, teamwork, and solid proven tactics to be successful.

      I am by no means an expert, just another student, I like the fact that people are using the NIST studies to better their knowledge of fire. Please feel free to comment and perhaps we can get back to the concept that Lt. Chapel is pointing out here.

      My primary thought on this is to do the right thing and stretch from the floor below. It may just save a fireman’s life.

    • L. Chapel Says:

      ROBBY O WROTE: I do however, well not disagree but maybe have a differeing opinion on were to connect to the stand pipe. I know that FD practices is to hook up the floor below the fire in order to retreat to a supposed safe haven. However no matter what floor you hook up on once you open the door to the fire floor the entire stairwell is going to be compromised with smoke…so is it really a safe haven???

      Let me ask you Robby; where do you hook up?

  3. Robby O Says:

    I have done both….I have hooked below the fire and on the fire floor. Like I stated no matter were you hooked up once the door to the fire floor is opened that stairwell becomes compromised. Which leads me to belive that the supposed safe haven everyone talks about retreating to is imagination and not reality.

    As for the study, I saw the videos and read the reports. They had a fan blowing a 30 mph wind into an apartment and once the pressurized the stair well with a few fans it overcame that and made the stairwell and hallway more tenable. They even cut it off to show what happend then cut it back on. Ill be the first to admit Im not crazy about PPV in general but I feel that in this application its use has merit.

    I dont feel like it has anything to do with being the easy thing to do cause nothing in a highrise fire is easy. I am looking for the tactical advantage and disadvantage of hooking up below, or on the fire floor…that to me is the right thing to do.

    Not trying to start and argument just trying to discuss tactics…I hope that it is coming off that way

    • Robby O, Thank you for your input this is how good discussions start (having two different views on a topic). This is coming off as nothing more than discussing tactics and that is the basis of this site to allow us to do that.

      All of us learn a great deal from these discussions and we appreciate all of you for respectfully discussing the topic at hand and taking whatever can apply to your own job, and leaving what doesn’t. Well done… I am sure there is more to come on this one.

  4. Robby O Says:

    Oh and the other thing again not matter where you hook up getting the hose off the fire floor into the stairwell is going to take alot…we have seen how fast wind driven fires move….how fast can you get that door closed to the fire floor. Even from the floor below you will not be safe from a hostile fire event. In my opinion anyway.

    • R-Fr Says:

      Robby O, No argument started at all and no you aren’t coming off that way. I agree that some of the NIST experiments were very interesting and may prove to be very valuable in the coming years with regards to high rise firefights.

      Besides the hose line leading to the stairwell and down I believe another tactical advantage is the ability for the member operating the SPO valve to be in a ‘cleaner’ environment. I am glad to read that you’re not looking for the easiest way but the tactically sound way. Thanks for the replies.

  5. […] Class 2 Standpipes…..What For? В« Jan 24, 2010 … So I put these SPO into the same category as all the other Class II standpipe outlets; … […]

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