Delayed Standpipe Operations Investigated in Asheville Medical Building Fire

Photo: C.J. Naum, 2010


Apparent delays with establishing a sustained water supply via the building standpipe system are being published in the Asheville today. Direct link HERE

Published reports are indicating possible problems with water delivery to the standpipe system designed to supply water from a street hydrant system to the fifth floor of a burning medical office building likely delayed firefighters as they battled the deadly blaze, according to Fire Department radio transmissions.
Nearly 25 minutes passed from the time the first trucks left their stations about 12:30 p.m. Thursday until a company reported they were finally putting water on the blaze at 445 Biltmore Center from a ladder truck.

Typical Standpipe Stairwell Valve Connection

Firefighters repeatedly made references to a lack of water, even as they reached the fourth floor and made their way toward flames one floor above according to same publication. They are referencing transcripts from fireground radio transmissions. HERE.

  • Asheville NC Fatal FF Mayday Audio 7/28/11; The audio has been edited and most of the Mayday audio from the FF has been edited out

The lack of timely application of water as a suppression agent to disrupt the progressing fire growth and magnitude could contribute towards increased fire severity based upon the fire load package and heat release rate and likely contribute towards untenable interior conditions in the absence of a vent path and confinement of the escalating products of combustion due to fire growth.

  • Refer to the posting HERE with a typical floor layout plan and interior photos
  • Reports indicating delays and challenges in gaining access into various rooms and locations are also being reported whcih should be expected based upon typical medical office layouts and configurations.

Vent path considerations, when addressing interior suppression operations, ventilation profiles and avenues and fire and heat propagation all have considerations and applications when working a seated fire within a compartment fire in a commercial occupancy

Refer to the following links for some further insights on the aforementioned elements and factors;



Fire Location on the Number Five Floor. Medical Office Building Copyright 2011 Microscoft Pictometry Birdseye View Pictometry Intl. Corp



  •  PDFs On Standpipe Systems: HERE and HERE
  • San Diego Fire & LIfe Safety Services LINK HERE
  • FDNY Standpipe Operations, HERE


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