A recent Fire Engineering article addressed ways to clear a fog nozzle clogged by debris from a standpipe. The application of fog nozzles to standpipe operations notwithstanding, it is better to do everything you can to avoid this situation in the first place. Nearly every article on standpipe operations stresses the importance of flushing the standpipe immediately after the 65mm cap has been removed and before any connections are made. This is done to ensure that the system is delivering water and to remove anything that might interrupt the flow of water.
Almost anything that can fit into a pipe can be found in a standpipe system. Over time standpipes accumulate a variety of deposits, calcification, rust or objects such as needles and trash. Birds or mice may find their home in the fire department connection (FDC) if the caps are left off for any amount of time. Workers may have inadvertently dropped bolts, fittings or tools into pipes while systems have been built or overhauled. Knowing that these problems might exist means that we can’t fully trust the system to do what we expect. There are too many accounts of firefighters who have discovered this at the most inconvenient times.
Here is an example of one standpipe that can be found in the field. Do you have standpipes in your first in?
The seriousness of a clogged nozzle or hoseline cannot be emphasized enough. Timely water supply is everything! Clogs, obstructions or standpipe systems that are flowing little or no water will delay operations or worse, become evident only after firefighters have committed themselves to an IDLH environment.
Almost all arguments against flowing standpipes will return to the issue of water damage. Ask yourself this question: are the lives of your crew or citizens depending on urgent rescue worth some water damage?
We all know that firefighting is an uncertain business but professionals do all they can to control or reduce the uncertainty in their jobs. Strive to be professional in everything you do: check the FDC and flow water before hooking up. Your crew and the citizens in your district deserve nothing less.