I know, trash cans these days come in all shapes and sizes. But those hose fittings that are on the outside of your building labeled “fire department connection” are not a place for garbage. So please, resist the urge. Now that we’ve got that out of our system, let’s talk about why this misuse of the Fire Department Connection is an issue and how we can fix it.
What is a fire department connection?
To understand why it is so important to keep the Fire Department Connection (FDC) in tip top shape, we’ll tell you a little more about what is it and why you should care about it. The FDC, also known as the Siamese Connection, is the connection used by the Fire Department to pump water into the system or standpipe to supplement the existing water supply in the event of a fire. When the sprinkler system is activated, the Fire Department connects the hose lines from their truck to the FDC, thereby adding water to the existing sprinkler/standpipe water supply.
In sum: FDCs are used by firefighters to supplement a building’s fire sprinkler/standpipe system during a fire.
Ok, so what’s the problem?
In order for the fire department connection to work as designed, the Fire Department must be able to pump water into the system. The fire department connections are equipped with plugs or caps to prevent dirt or miscellaneous objects from entering the piping.
However, the connections are often targets of vandals who remove the caps to be used for scrap value, leaving them vulnerable to this sort of intrusion. Oddly enough, items such as newspapers and soda cans seem to find themselves stuffed inside the connection. If the piping is obstructed, it could inhibit the flow of water and prevent the connection from being used – which as you can imagine, would be disastrous in an emergency. As a building owner or manager, it is crucial to avoid these obstructions.
In sum: Trash impedes the water flow, which causes the FDC to be useless, and thereby leaves your building at risk in case of a fire.
Yikes. What can I do?
The solution is simple. Protect your fire department connection from trash and contamination. How? Replace broken or missing caps to keep dirt, dust, debris or any other foreign material out of the fire department connection.
If that’s not enough to persuade you, did we mention it’s also required? According to NFPA13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems (2002 Edition) “Fire Department connections shall be equipped with listed plugs or caps, properly secured and arranged for easy removal by fire departments” (6.8.4). It is also required under NFPA25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems. As part of our NFPA25 inspection contract, our inspectors will examine your fire department connection to verify that the plugs or caps are in place and are not damaged. The inspection is performed to confirm that it is in proper working condition and is ready for use by the fire department.
In sum: The plugs or caps MUST be replaced so that the opening is sealed and the connection remains in working order.