When a standpipe is required during construction (see blog post Construction Standpipes and PRVs – A Question of Pressure (Feb 2020) for more detailed information), the question is often raised – where is an acceptable location?
Model code requirements for standpipe locations, and more importantly, fire hose connections, differ slightly. Section 3311.1 of the International Building Code (IBC), states “…Such standpipes shall be provided with fire department hose connections at locations adjacent to stairways complying with Section 3310.1.” The language is unchanged between the 2015, 2018, and 2021 editions, and is adopted without amendments in the Massachusetts State Building Code, 780 CMR 9th Edition. NFPA 241, Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration and Demolition Operations, 188.8.131.52.4 requires “At least one fire department hose valve shall be provided at each intermediate landing or floor level in the exit stairway, as determined by the Authority Having Jurisdiction. (emphasis added).” That requirement is also unchanged between the 2013 and 2019 editions.
Both IBC and NFPA requirements are similar in that the hose valves will be located near a stairway. This is important as standard fire department standpipe operations dictate that the fire department will connect to the hose valve on the floor below the lowest floor on fire. Using the floor below allows for setup of hose lines in a clear environment, it affords firefighters a path to safety by following their hose line back to the fire hose connection, and it means that in the event they are overwhelmed by fire and have to abandon the hose, they will still be able to close the valve and maintain pressure in the standpipe. The IBC requirement for “adjacent to stairways” takes into account that the stairs may be a temporary stair, such as a scaffold stair tower, which provide very little room for firefighters to safely set up a hose line.
Sometimes, the builder will look to run a temporary construction standpipe along the exterior of the building or in an available open shaft. Following the guidance in either of the model codes, again, this is acceptable only if there is a stair adjacent to the standpipe. Fire departments typically bring 150 – 200 feet of hose arranged for standpipe operations in buildings so equipped. This is in response to NFPA 14, Standard for the Installation of Standpipe and Hose Systems, 184.108.40.206.1.1 and 220.127.116.11.1.2, which dictates travel distance to hose connections may be no greater than 130 feet in a non-sprinklered building and 200 feet in a sprinklered building. In common core-shell buildings, where the distance from the curtain wall to a core stairwell can be 50 feet or greater, a third or more of the hose brought into the building will be used simply to get to the stair, leaving insufficient hose to reach the floor on fire.
Should a construction standpipe be placed outside of a stair enclosure, it is crucial that coordination with the AHJ take place before the standpipe is installed. The fire department’s ability to use a construction standpipe can depend on multiple items, of which location is a major factor.
If you have any other questions related to construction project NFPA 241 Construction Fire Safety Impairment Plans, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information about required construction standpipes, check out this link.