Standpipe Smarts

Ray McCormack

The engine officer needs to make several strategic decisions at standpipe operations. In this example, there is a set of scissor stairs centered on a straight run hallway, and a single standpipe riser located inside the stairway, serving each floor. I have listed five of the most common decisions that the engine officer will have to make. These decisions set the stage for a well coordinated stretch and attack plan

  1. On what floor will you hook up your hoseline.

If you picked the fire floor, you are making a bad decision. We always want our hoseline to have the best chance of placement and sustainability. Choosing the outlet on the fire floor stair landing doesn’t give us that, because that door will remain open for a period of time and will draw heat and smoke to that landing. Using an outlet on the fire floor places the attachment process in jeopardy and forces us to work in an IDLH. Exiting firefighters end up at an outlet in the hall instead of the stairway. The floor below is the most common location in which to start a standpipe stretch. It typically provides a safe hook up site as well as not not using up significant amount of attack travel hose.

2. Which stairway will be used for attack?

We don’t always have to use the riser stairway as the attack stairway. With scissor stairs and attaching the hose on the floor below, we may have to switch stairways on the floor below to give us closer access to the fire area when we emerge from stairs. I feel that this choice is preferable to using the riser stairway which would cause us to make a U-turn on the fire floor and make for an extended return trip when you may be low on air; however, when you leave the riser stairway to stretch up another, more travel hose may be required than if you had stayed inside the original stairway. It’s best to add a length if you are concerned by what you see and or if you’re missing information.

3. How far is the fire area from the stairway?

This is a size up question that calls on your understanding of how much hose you have available and how your choices impact the stretch. With 150’ of hose available, a 50’ standard would be used for the fire area, leaving 100’ to reach from riser to fire. If more would be needed, then apply the necessary lengths.

4. Will you be able to stretch dry or only wet?

Dry stretches: bring the lead length dry to the apartment door. It is then flaked out towards the attack stairway. A wet stretch means we are charging the line inside the stairway. This is recommended if the apartment door is not controlled or a fire is located in the hallway. This is also an option when there isn’t enough room the flake out the lead length in the hallway.

5. Is there a wind condition?

If there is wind condition, which side of the building is it on? If the fire is wind-impacted toward the interior hallway, seek an alternative stream entry tactic. You can not win this battle head on. A wind driven fire is a game changing event. Implement your alternative plan. 

Keep Fire in Your Life

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