Requirements for standpipe systems are found in Section 905 of 780 CMR Massachusetts State Building Code (9th edition), including various triggers for when a standpipe system is required for a building. Within 780 CMR §905 and NFPA 14, Standard for the Installation of Standpipe and Hose Systems, three classes of standpipe systems are identified which vary based on the type of hose connections (aka fire department valves, hose valve) and/or hose stations required, the locations thereof, and the intended uses during a fire event. These three classes are differentiated as follows:
Historically, many buildings were required to have 1½-in. hose stations (i.e., Class II or Class III standpipe systems) intended for use by building occupants during a fire event. As automatic sprinkler systems became more commonplace, the fire protection industry and fire service generally shifted towards reliance on sprinkler systems applying water during the initial stages of a fire event – before arrival of the responding fire department – in favor of evacuating the building occupants to safety in a more timely fashion. As a result, 780 CMR §905 includes several exceptions that allow installation of only a Class I standpipe systems in many cases, and a majority of buildings being designed and constructed under today’s code are permitted to only include 2½-in. hose connections. These classes of standpipe systems in 780 CMR are consistent with NFPA 14 Standard for the Installation of Standpipe & Hose Systems, the reference standard applicable to the design and installation of standpipes.
In addition to the three classes of standpipe systems, there are also different types of standpipe systems, each with their own design methodology in NFPA 14. These include automatic wet, automatic dry, manual wet, manual dry, and semiautomatic dry which are generally described as follows:
In some cases, 780 CMR §905 identifies a specific class and type of standpipe system for a given condition, while in other cases, 780 CMR §905 only identifies the required class of standpipe system. Where 780 CMR §905 is silent on the type of standpipe system, the Registered Design Professional has the option to select the suitable type of standpipe system based on factors such as the building height, occupancy type, available water supply, responding fire department capabilities, temperature conditions, etc., and provided that the installation complies with the applicable provisions of 780 CMR and NFPA 14 for the class and type of standpipe system selected. However, given that the standpipe systems are primarily intended for use by responding fire department personnel during a fire event, it is always encouraged to engage the local fire department to ensure that both the class and type of standpipe system being utilized aligns with their specific emergency response protocols, capabilities, and preferences.
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