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What Is a Standpipe?

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  • Written By: Jeremy Laukkonen
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2016
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In firefighting contexts, standpipes are hollow, rigid tubes that can be used to send water into buildings. These pipes are typically installed during construction and can be either wet or dry. Wet standpipes always contain water and can be utilized by sprinkler systems or the building occupants, while dry versions must be charged by a fire engine. In either case, connections within the building can allow a firefighter to hook up a hose directly on the desired floor. Standpipe can also refer to a number of other objects, such as public fresh water sources, pipes used in basement flood control, and washing machine drains.

The term "standpipe" can refer to a number of different items around the world, though in the United States it is most often used in reference to a component found in fire suppression systems. In this context, the standpipe is a rigid piping system that can send water to areas of a building that could be difficult to reach, such as high floors. When a building has many stories, hauling a fire hose up several flights of stairs can present several problems, such as kinks at each stair landing, which may impede water flow. Since standpipes can provide pressurized water to the upper floors of a building, many of these issues can be eliminated.

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There are two main types of standpipes that can be found in fire suppression systems. Wet standpipes contain water at all times and are often used with sprinklers. Some of these systems also allow the occupants of a building to hook up a hose and deal with a fire until professional firefighters can arrive.

The other type of standpipe fire suppression system is referred to as dry because they must be charged externally. These often have Siamese connections on the exterior ground floor of a building that fire engine pump trucks can connect to. Water is then delivered throughout the system so that personnel can enter the building and fight the fire.

Standpipe can also refer to a number of other items in different contexts. One type of standpipe is common in areas that lack indoor plumbing, where they are typically located in public spaces and contain a tap so that people can obtain fresh water. Standpipes can also be used for flood control in situations where a sewer is likely to back up. If interior drains are fitted with vertical pipes, the sewer liquids may fill the pipe instead of covering the floor of the home. Washing machines can also make use of standpipes, which are typically designed to connect directly to a drain line.

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