A standpipe can be used on an oil drilling rig but this article will concentrate on stand pipes that are used in conjunction with water. The most well-known form of standpipe is used by fire fighters. This article explains how they are used by the fire services both in the UK and the US.
In terms of fire fighting a standpipe is rigid water pipe that is contained within buildings with more than one story. It sits vertically and can be connected to a fire hose which allows water to be applied manually to any fire. In this sense they serve the same purpose as a fire hydrant.
In North America, types of standpipes include ‘wet' and ‘dry' varieties. I the UK, other European countries and countries which follow the British model such as New Zealand fire hydrants are housed underground. Fire engines carry standpipes, keys and bars. The bar is used to lift the manhole cover in the road which exposes the hydrant. After this the standpipe is sunk into the hydrant and hose is connected. The bar and key are then combined to turn the hydrant off and on.
In the US a dry standpipe refers to a pipe extending into a building that can be used to supply water to the interior of a building in the event of a fire. This type of pipe is fixed and usually located near a road or driveway so that the fire engine can supply water to it.
Fire fighters carry hoses into the building and attach them to standpipe outlets that occur at various intervals along the pipe. These pipes are generally not filled with water, hence the term ‘dry'. In the event of a fire the pipes are filled or ‘charged' with water.
A wet standpipe on the other hand is permanently ‘charged' with water and is pressurised at all times.
Due to the amount of pressure contained within them standpipes are successful at getting water to the upper parts of buildings. Although hose can be laid upstairs this can be time consuming and using a standpipe is a time saving option which can attack a fire more quickly.
Another safety features of standpipes is that they are anchored to the building so less likely to slip and slide about when being used.