Example: when are automatic standpipes required?
So, in this series, we're talking about codes and standards and how they apply to standpipes systems. In our last segment, we talked about where host connections are required, and where those requirements showed up in the IBC and NFPA 14.
Today, I want to do a similar code exercise, except I want to follow the path on finding out where automatic standpipes are required.
Now, automatic standpipes are standpipe systems where both the pressure and flow are available at the host connections at all times. A pumper truck is not needed to hook up to the standpipe system in order to get the correct pressure and flow out of the hose connections. If the water supply for the building is exceptional, then an automatic standpipe system may simply rely on that water supply coming into the building. But in most cases, an automatic standpipe system needs a building fire pump in order to supply the pressure and flow needed at those host connections. The formal definition from the IBC section 902 for an automatic wet standpipe is that it has a water supply that is capable of supplying the system demand automatically.
An automatic standpipe is different from a manual standpipe. In an automatic, the pressure and flow are provided well automatically. In a manual standpipe system, in order to get the flow and pressure the system needs, there has to be some kind of manual intervention. Think about a pumper truck showing up to an actual fire connecting from a hydrant to the truck and from the truck to the fire department connection, which would then supply both the flow and pressure needed for that standpipe system throughout the building. The formal definition of a manual wet standpipe is a system that's connected to a water supply for the purposes of just maintaining water in the system, but the water supply is not capable itself of delivering the demand the system needs. Manual systems require water from a fire department pumper or something of the like to be pumped into the system in order to meet the demand. Again, that would be a manual standpipe system. Automatic standpipe system is the building provides the flow and pressure automatically. Manual requires intervention from the fire department in order to supply that same flow and pressure.
In the question we're exploring today, we wanna know when is a standpipe system required to be automatic?
This is a really important question because it has a huge financial impact on the cost of the building. If we have automatic standpipes, that can be a nice help for firefighters, but it adds major cost to the construction of the building. With an automatic standpipe system, we would need additional square footage from the building for the fire pump room. We would usually need exterior access for the fire pump room, usually introduce rated barrier for that fire pump room, then there's the cost of the pump, there's increased testing and maintenance needs over the lifetime of the building. And depending on our utility power supply and the fire pump type, there may also be a need for a generator to support the fire pump. All of these collectively can be a huge cost item for a building.
In this example, we're gonna use the International Building Code 2006 edition. This is actually pulled from a project I worked on where I had to do a code study on this exact question. If we're outside the US, it's very likely we're not gonna be using the IBC just because it's not very popular outside the United States. And if we're outside the United States, we would then need to refer to the building code that is adopted. But for our example today, 2006 IBC was a few local amendments.
The first step in this code exercise is to determine what the adopted building code is for the project and also research any ordinances that may affect whether manual or automatic standpipes are required.
The project in this example was a large, assisted living facility with memory care. And some portions of the building got up to three stories.
Under the 2006 International Building Code section 905.2 and Chapter 35, a standpipe system when it's installed must be in accordance with NFPA14, the 2003 edition.
So, starting at the top level of the 2006 International Building Code, we first go to chapter 9, which is for fire protection systems and then section 905, which covers standpipe systems. Whenever I'm doing one of these code summaries, I wanna follow a logic path and chart that step by step. This is really helpful for me so I organize my thoughts and make sure that the process is solid from each step to the subsequent step. But then it's also helpful for someone who is reviewing my work to make sure that my code path is correct.
So once we're in section 905, which covers standpipe systems, section 905.2 states the requirement for standpipe systems here in the locally adopted code requires standpipes for any building that has two or more stories above-grade. Well, my building is a three-story so it fits that bill we require standpipe system. Section 905.2 states that standpipe systems shall be installed in the accordance with this section and NFPA 14.
For this building, the class of the standpipe is a class one standpipe since I have a fully sprinkler building. So, under the adopted building code and the local amendments, we have no stated requirements for automatic standpipes.
Here, it's not telling us whether it's manual or automatic. So, with the reference to NFPA 14, I now follow over that code path and go to NFPA 14 2003 edition.
Under NFPA 14 Chapter 5 covers system requirements.
Then under section 5.4, there is a section that covers the required type of system.
Then another subsection 5.4.1 that covers class one standpipe systems.
Here, section 184.108.40.206 states that class one stamp pipe systems in buildings that are not classified as high-rises are permitted to have a manual automatic or semi-automatic standpipe system. That means as long as our building is not considered a high-rise, then a manual standpipe system is permitted by code.
One quick contrast is the following section, section 220.127.116.11 states that buildings which are classified as high rises shall be automatic or semi-automatic. We don't have a choice. It shall be one of those two. We can't go manual just by electing it. If our building was a high-rise, then a manual standpipe system is not permitted. NFPA 14 would say that the standpipe system would have to be automatic or semi-automatic. So, if we're not a high-rise, our options are manual, automatic or semi-automatic. If we are a high-rise, our options are automatic or semi-automatic. That's under NFPA 14 in this section.
So, our building by code would be permitted to have a manual type standpipe system.
As a code exercise, we have to start with the adopted building code, check local amendments, then we work our way starting from the front of the book, into the chapter, the section, and subsections to get the guidance we're looking for on whatever code topic we're researching. Once we explore that path, and in this case, it's the 2006 IBC, we were then referred NFPA 14. We started at the top of NFPA 14, found the appropriate chapter and then the appropriate subsections. And so, we are able to identify what type of system is required for our building.
As far as standpipe systems go, this would be an example of how the codes and standards interact and how they both rely on each other on a question that comes up all the time with standpipe systems.
We'll get into this particular issue, manual versus automatic and everything that goes into that into lot more detail later. But for today, I'm Joe Meyer and this is MeyerFire university.
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