This is the blog page of Aaron Johnson. This site will include all the latest writing, musings, and updates from Aaron. His complete CV, all published works, and consulting information can be viewed at his portfolio site,

Understanding Class II Standpipe Systems

The classification and installation requirements for standpipe systems are identified in NFPA 14, Standard for the Installation of Standpipe and Hose Systems.  Standpipes are categorized as class I, class II, or class III. These classifications are based on the hose connection size and intended user of the hose. 

  • Class I System. A system that provides 2 ½ in. hose connections to supply water for use by fire departments.
  • Class II System. A system that provides 1 ½ in. hose stations to supply water for use primarily by trained personnel or by the fire department during initial response.
  • Class III System. A system that provides 1 ½ i.n hose station to supply water for use by trained personnel and 2 ½ in hose connections to supply a larger volume of water for use by fire departments.
For a more extensive and in-depth look at all standpipe systems check out the QRFS article, Guide to Fire Hose Reels and Racks for Standpipe and Hose Systems.

The water source to the standpipe system can be automatic wet, automatic dry, manual dry, or semi-automatic. Automatic wet standpipes are designed to provide the needed water pressure and supply when the valve is opened. These can be wet or dry. Automatic wet systems have water in them all the time, whereas, automatic dry fill with water when the hose valve is opened.  Manual dry systems are designed for use by the fire department, these pipes are dry until the fire department arrives and connects to the fire department connection to fill the standpipe with water from their trucks. Semi-automatic systems require the activation of a fire pump or other device to fill the system with water. 

The Class II system provides a 1 1/2 inch hose station, as opposed to just a hose connection. The hose station is comprised of a connected hose with a nozzle, with the hose being secured on a rack or reel. These standpipe systems are only intended for use by trained personnel. Annex information of NFPA 14 defines trained personnel as those trained in accordance with NFPA 600, Standard on Facility Fire Brigades or the Fire Equipment Manufacturers Association (FEMA). If the Class II system is located on a site with a dedicated fire brigade, then those members must be trained to the requirements of NFPA 600.  For those locations where a dedicated fire brigade is not in place, building occupants or those expected to use the Class II system, personnel training in accordance with the outline and materials provided by FEMA is sufficient.

Class II systems are only permitted to be fed by an automatic wet standpipe riser, with exceptions for areas subject to freezing.
5.4.2 Class II and Class III Standpipe Systems.Class II and Class III standpipe systems with 1 ½ in hose stations shall be automatic wet systems unless located in a facility where piping is subject to freezing and where a fire brigade is trained to operate the system without fire department intervention, in which case an automatic dry or semiautomatic dry system shall be permitted.
The hose connections and cabinets for these systems must be installed as prescribed in NFPA 14. The hose station must be visible and accessible, mounted between 3-5 feet above the finished floor. A hose station is to be located so that it can be accessed from within 130 feet of travel from any part of the building.
A.7.3.3 Hose stations should be so arranged as to allow discharge to be directed from the nozzle into all portions of important enclosures such as closets and similar enclosures.
To ensure the effectiveness of these systems they must be properly inspected, tested, and maintained. The first priority for ensuring system effectiveness is the initial acceptance test when the system is first installed.  The AHJ will visit the site and examine the installation for evidence that the following test and procedures have been completed:

  • Underground piping and FDC piping to the building must be flushed.
  • Verify hose threads are compatible with the hose connection. Compatibility and required hose thread types may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
  • A hydrostatic test must be conducted at 200 psi (or 50 psi over working pressure) for 2 hours.
  • Air pressure leak test at 40 psi for 24 hours must be conducted.
  • Witness a main drain flow test.  System flow test may also be conducted, but can be waived by the AHJ.
  • All notification and supervisory alarm devices will be tested. This process is outlined in NFPA 72.
  • All required signage must be in place.

After the initial installation and acceptance testing, the system must continue to receive ongoing inspection, testing, and maintenance to ensure system readiness. There are annual and 5 year inspection and testing requirements. The hose, cabinet, piping, connections, rack or reel, and threads must be inspected once a year. This inspection is to verify that the system is in good condition, and their is no damage or missing parts, and that the hose is in a proper position to be quickly deployed as necessary.  Every 5 years a functional test with water flow and hydrostatic test of the piping must be conducted. Additionally, the hose must also be tested. If the hose fails the test, prescribed in NFPA 1962, then it must be replaced. 

When these systems or component go bad or need updated, can provide all parts and complete units for fire hose racks or fire hose reels, fire hose adapters, hose for racks and reels, valve cap and chain assemblies, and fire hose nozzles.

Fire Door Gap Size Allowances - Am I protected?

For me, it’s that time of year again, annual facility fire door inspections.  I already know that the majority of these doors are going to fail, primarily due to door gap size allowances being exceeded. Current codes, NFPA 80, requires a maximum door gap allowance of ⅛” around the top and vertical perimeters of a fire rated door.  They allow up to ¾” door gap allowance at the bottom perimeter of the door. 

As I walk through the facility with my tablet and door gap gauge, I have to be prepared for the litany of questions that I will inevitably receive from facility managers. The primary question being, “How do I know that gap measurement is sufficient?”

In March of 2018, the NFPA’s Fire Protection Research Foundation published a report to answer the question of how did the gap size allowances come to be, and are the current gap allowances the best practice. The study included a literature review of more than 100 published documents and media, and computer modeling.  This report, Influence of Gap Sizes around Swinging Doors with Builders Hardware on Fire and Smoke Development, can be viewed in its entirety.

This study and report made some of the following conclusions:

“From this information a great deal of information and data was collected that directly reveals that the gap sizes around swinging doors have a significant effect on the fire development.”

“A significant amount of work was done to trace the historic record of the prescriptive gaps sizes included in NFPA 80. It was revealed that the first inclusion of these gaps sizes was added in 1959. Initially, requirements were based on the mounting of doors; however, in 1967 the requirements switched to being based on the door construction. There is no evidence to suggest that this was done from a fire performance perspective, however the test reports from that time period indicate that the prescriptive gap sizes are in the vicinity of what was found during full scale testing.”

Aegis Fire Door Gap Gauge

Innovating Our Industry [Seven Survival Skills]

Innovator. An innovator is defined as a person who introduces new methods, ideas, or products. these are individuals who blaze a trail into a new territory. Innovation is necessary for our survival - as a people, and as an industry.

In his book Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World, Tony Wagner provides a clear argument for the changes that are needed in our educational system (and to some extent, our parenting styles) to create innovative people. Without innovation, we will cease to develop and exist. In his previous book, Tony identified seven survival skills that people need to possess and foster in others in order for us to continue to thrive.  These skills are also what is needed within our industry of fire protection, life safety, and codes and standards development, to enable its continued growth and impact.
  1. Critical thinking and problem solving.
  2. Collaboration across networks and leading by influence.
  3. Agility and adaptability.
  4. Initiative and entrepreneurship.
  5. Accessing and analyzing information.
  6. Effective oral and written communication.
  7. Curiosity and imagination.
Tony adds to this list, “perseverance, a willingness to experiment, take calculated risks, and tolerate failure, and the capacity for “design thinking”.

The U.S. Army understands the importance and urgency to create innovative thinkers and leaders. In 2015 the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command released a “Learning Conceptpaper that identified three components that would contribute to a more competitive learning model.  These three actions can be implemented within our industries to enhance innovative thinking and growth.

  1. Convert most classroom experiences into collaborative problem-solving events led by facilitators (vs. instructors) who engage learners to think and understand the relevance and context of what they learn.
  2. Tailor learning to the individual learner’s experience and competence level based on the results of a pre-test and/or assessment.
  3. Dramatically reduce or eliminate instructor-led slide presentation lectures and begin using a blended learning approach that incorporates virtual and constructive simulations, gaming technology, or other technology-delivered instruction.
How can we foster these traits within our organizations and personnel? What tools are you using to encourage and create innovation with your company, organization, or industry at large?

The Story of American Aviation

Aviation found me. It found me nearly fifteen years ago, sitting in class at the fire academy. Out of nearly 400 hours of training to become a firefighter in the state of Florida, aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) is covered for about fifteen minutes. But, it was in these few minutes that I knew I wanted to work in the aviation industry, and ARFF specialty field.  My first fire department job out of the academy was indeed an aircraft rescue and firefighting job, a career I continue to enjoy to this day. 

I am proud to be part of the innovative and storied history, and continuing advancements, of the aviation industry. In 1946, Jim Ray, captured this history in his well written and beautifully illustrated book, The Story of American Aviation. Seventy-four years later, it is my privilege to be part of the team that has brought this book back into print. I consider it an honor to have written the foreword to this new edition.

Click to order.

Jim Ray described that his purpose for this book was “to trace the progress of aviation in America and to tell the story of the men and machines that have given this country supremacy in the air.” Those of use who are fortunate enough to work, play, or otherwise be involved in the aviation industry can consider ourselves part of this story, part of the tradition of men from all corners of the world who endured hardships, ridicule, injuries, and even death, to make flight possible. Our work everyday continues this mission!

In the concluding chapter Ray prophetically writes, “As a commercial transport, the airplane will also serve to keep the peace. Commercial airliners will make the world much smaller, and no nation will be a great distance from another. We shall all be able to travel by air to the most far-distant country in a matter of hours. All nations will be closer neighbors, and we shall all have a better understanding of our neighboring nations. The more we visit and mingle with the people of the entire world the more we can help to spread the doctrine of democracy of America. The airplane will play a great part in eliminating the greed and jealousy that breeds war. The young people of today will govern America tomorrow. The airplane will be the vehicle through which they will learn to know the peoples of the world. Through this better understanding America may always be the symbol of peace and prosperity.”

The Story of American Aviation shows us how we started and where we have been, however, this story is still being written. It was only through persistence that the Wright brothers were able to succeed where others had failed. It will be this same persistence that the miracle of flight, extending into space travel, will continue to be improved, developed, and the impossible to experience made possible. The miracle of flight continues its promise to take us ever farther and further!