What’s Your Sign Say? Standpipe Signage Requirements

We often misunderstand the concept of signage. The term “signage” is defined as the design or use of signs and symbols to communicate a message to a specific group. When developing our signs, we need to first understand what is required by the standard to be posted, and to whom we are trying to convey our message. The final question is, does it properly convey that information required to allow our intended audience to understand the message? NFPA 14 Standard for the Installation of Standpipe and Hose Systems, requires the following signage requirements for standpipe fire department connection.

  • requires a sign with 1 in. letters that reads “STANDPIPE”. It also states that the signage shall indicate that the system is manual and either wet or dry.
  • states that if the system is a combined fire sprinkler standpipe it shall indicate both designed services with either “STANDPIPE AND AUTOSPKR” or “AUTOSPKR AND STANDPIPE”.
  • requires the sign to indicate the pressure required at the inlets to provide standpipe system demand
    • clarifies stating that only pressures greater than 150 psi are required to be posted. This comes directly from 13E Recommended Practice for Fire Departments Operations in Properties Protected by Sprinkler and Standpipe Systems, which recommends charging all standpipes a 150 psi and such we only need to indicate when pressures exceed that recommendation.
  • requires the location to be added to the Fire Department Connection signage when it services multiple buildings, locations or structures.
  • 6.6 provides the sign location. Secured to a device or the building.

These minimum signage requirements are intended to provide the basic information needed for a fire department to provide the necessary pressure and flow for a standpipe system. It is not intended to be a location indicator, although that is a biproduct of the sign, with Section additionally requiring the fire department connection to be visible from the street.

NFPA 14 clearly requires the signage to indicate the type of standpipe, system design pressure and, where the system is manual, wet or dry must be noted. These are key elements identified that are needed for the fire service to make critical tactical decisions on a fire ground. The common stocked signs often fall short of these needs. For example, “FDC” or the international sprinkler and/or standpipe symbols do not indicate pressure or when the system is manual, fails to indicate wet vs. dry. The lack of properly identifying a manual vs. automatic wet combined “STANDPIPE AND AUTOSPKR” or “AUTOSPKR AND STANDPIPE” is significant in knowing how to obtain required system pressure using a fire department connection.

While these requirements have been in the standard for many editions, it is often overlooked, an afterthought, and misleading to the specific group we are trying to convey our message.