What is a Standpipe and a FDC?

In the most basic terms, a standpipe is a fixed piping system built into tall or otherwise larger buildings — think of it as a water system that’s dedicated to fire suppression and firefighting.  A FDC is the Fire Department Connection, which is the point where the fire department connects to the standpipe system.

If you’re a new property owner or manager — or merely getting your feet wet (no pun intended) into this aspect of the property’s testing and compliance — let’s talk through what this system’s parts looks like in practice:

  • FDC – Fire department connectionThe Fire Department Connection is located at the street level.  They may appear as “sprouts” out of the ground near the street (as seen to the right), in their own enclosure, or built into the building’s wall (seen below); the ‘sprout’ and wall-side are the two most common styles.
  • Risers and plumbing – The large (usually the largest) set of pipes in a building that provide and distribute water throughout the building from the FDC.
  • Discharges – Standpipes typically have a 2.5-inch connection/valve at each floor to allow firefighters to connect hoses.
  • Roof outlet – Much like the discharges on each floor, a final set of valves are on the roof.  (The roof outlet is also used during system testing.)

In-wall fire department connection (FDC)

How the Standpipe is Used

During an emergency, the normal water system’s operation may be disrupted — so the arriving fire department is going to connect one or more fire pumper engines to the FDC.  This allows the fire department to provide a “known good” water source to the discharges in the stairways and any hose cabinets in the hallways (for buildings with those installed).  It also saves time for firefighter teams when entering a building to carry dry hoses and connect them to a standpipe’s discharge.  This prevents the weight of a water-filled hose also can pull the hoses back down the stairwell, as well as keeping the stairs clear of hoses for exiting occupants — since the hose is connected directly at the floor is it needed.


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