Fighting fires in high rise buildings is challenging. It would not be possible for firemen to just aim their hoses from the ground floor and hope to reach those floors that are higher up. It would also not be feasible for them to run up flights of stairs trailing a hose behind them. Many high rise buildings can have twenty floors or more and a fire can happen anywhere. The ability to get water to where it is needed is vital in order to keep people safe and so that members of the fire service are not put in unnecessary danger. One way that this is achieved is by the use of dry risers – this is a system that makes it possible to easily and quickly get water to any level inside a high rise building.
Dry Risers Explained
Dry risers are part of a buildings fire suppression system. Anyone who has ever entered a high rise building may have noticed signposts on the wall indicating the location of dry risers, but they may have had no idea about what this was referring to. Put simply, it is a system of pipes that passes through the different floors of the building. The purpose of this is so that firelighters will have an easy source of water for every floor of the building. This system can also be connected to the sprinkler system as well. The dry risers are also sometimes referred to as standpipes. There is usually an outlet on the ground floor where the system can be connected to the water supply.
Dry Risers or Wet Risers
There are actually two types of risers that can be found inside buildings; dry risers and wet risers. As the name might suggest the wet risers contain water and the dry risers do not. When using the wet riser system the water has to be kept pressurised using a pump. It also needs to be connected to a water supply. This is a good system, but it is not appropriate if there is a risk that the water inside the pipes can freeze. This is why dry risers can be the preferred choice. When they are not in use these pipes will be empty of water so there is no risk of freezing – instead they will contain pressurised air.
Dry Risers and the Law
Not only are dry risers a great idea, but they are also a legal requirement. Any buildings with floors that are above 18 meters off the ground will be expected to have this system in place. This is something that will be taken into consideration as the building is being constructed so that the system is in place from day one.
Not only is it a legal requirement to have a dry riser (or wet riser depending on needs), but it is also expected that people will have their system tested on a regular basis. This is because things can go wrong, and it is far too late to find out that there are problems when the fire service needs to use the system to put out the fire. Whoever is responsible for the building will be expected to ensure that regular tests of the system take place. This is often organised the company that installed the dry riser in the first place.
Ged Kenyon has 15 years’ experience with dry riser maintenance and installation contact his company Nationwide Dry Risers for more information.