What Type (or Class) of System Does My Building Have Installed?

When folks start talking about sprinkler systems, standpipes and protection systems in buildings, the “Class” topic invariably comes into the conversation.  To simplify it, there are just three classes — and of the three classes, a bit of a math equation boils this down to just two basic systems.

Class I (one)

class_i_riserA Class I system is simply a standpipe used by firefighters to connect hoses at predetermined points within a building.  These begin with a Fire Department Connection at the street level, “climb” within the interior of the building (often in stairways, and have a connection on each floor), and end on the roof. This design is intended for use by those trained to handle larger volumes of water, and most require those fighting the fire to bring in their own hose, nozzle and tools to connect to the standpipe’s connections.  As in this photo to the right, the red-wheel valve and brass caps on the lower portion of the red standpipe is the fire department’s hose connection point.

Class II (two)

class_ii_hose_enclosureA Class II system involves fire hose cabinets located throughout the building, which have a turn-to-open valve, connected to a 1.5-inch fire hose and a nozzle.  These are designed for building occupants to use to perform initial firefighting work until the fire department arrives.  (These fire hoses are typically also “use once” quality, so in the event of an emergency, should be replaced — and are priced such that it’s affordable and wise to do so.)

Class III (three)

The “math formula” I mentioned above is simply this: a Class III (three) system is Class I + Class II.  In other words, the Class III incorporates both the elements of the other two classes: a network of pipes and connection points for the fire department to use with their larger hoses, as well as installation of hose cabinets throughout the building.


Regardless of what Class of system is installed on the property, a program of regular inspection of the system is essential.  Regular inspection, and a testing program, will ensure both standpipe systems are free from obstructions and deterioration, and hose cabinets have service-ready hose and nozzles present and in good working order with properly operating turn-to-open valves.

A licensed, local fire protection contractor can work with you to develop an inspection program, or fully assume that responsibility on your behalf.

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