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FDC Signs: Frequently Asked Questions

FDC stands for Fire Department Connection. It is part of a fire sprinkler system or standpipe system in a facility and is used to deliver water supply to these systems. In the event of a fire, firefighters can connect their pumper truck to the FDC and supply additional water and pressure into the fire sprinkler system through FDC to suppress the fire in the building quickly.

FDC should be positioned on the street side of the building and be easily recognizable. The location of an FDC should always maximize accessibility for firefighters. FDCs can be located both inside and outside a building; however, they are generally found outside the building they protect. Local fire codes and the preferences of fire authorities determine the exact location of an FDC.

According to International Building Code Section 912.2, FDC shall be located such that fire apparatus and hose connected to supply the system does not obstruct the access to the buildings for other fire apparatus. Sometimes, FDCs are placed at a distance from the building they protect, called freestanding or sidewalk FDCs.


As per International Building Code Section 912.2, the location of the FDC shall be approved by the fire code official. A fire code official is the designated authority charged with the administration and enforcement of the Fire Code. 


IBC [Section 912.2.2] requires an FDC sign to mark the fire department connection that is not visible to the approaching fire apparatus. Signs shall be subject to the approval of the fire code official. These are the requirements for FDC signs - 

Mounting: The sign must be mounted on the street side of the building.

Letter Height: The letter height of the letters “FDC” shall at least be 6 inches. Other words shall at least be 2 inches in height.

Arrow: FDC Signs with arrows are required to indicate the location of the fire department connection.

Another requirement is mentioned in IBC [Section 912.5]. It states that a metal sign with raised letters not less than 1 inch shall be mounted on all FDCs connected to automatic sprinklers, standpipes, or fire pump connections. The sign shall read AUTOMATIC SPRINKLERS or STANDPIPES or TEST CONNECTION or a combination of thereof. 

The standard also clearly states that "where the fire department connection does not serve the entire building, a sign shall be provided indicating the portions of the building served."


A fire department connection must be unobstructed at all times because in case of a fire outbreak, the fire department would immediately need to pump extra water into the fire suppression system of the building using FDC. Obstructions like parked cars, fences, bushes, trees, etc., can delay fire fighting operations and result in massive loss to life and property.

A Do Not Block Sign or a No Parking FDC Sign would ensure nobody’s obstructing or leaving their vehicle unattended, blocking the fire department connection at any time of the day.


To ensure firefighters can easily find and use FDC, one must:

  • - Mark all fire department connections with bold red and white FDC Signs. Directional signs will guide firefighters to the exact location.
  • - Remove all obstructions within 3 feet around the connection (including bushes, fences, and other objects). The fire-fighting personnel must have an adequate area to maneuver a hose for the connection.
  • - Use road markings to indicate that the section around a fire department connection is reserved for emergency vehicles only. You can use a No Parking Sign to get away with unnecessary violators.

The International Fire Code (IFC) Section 912.4 requires that - 

  • FDC area shall be clear of any obstructions like bushes, trees, walls, or any kind of fixed or movable object.
  • A working space of at least 36-inches in width, 36-inches in depth, 78-inches in height shall be provided around the FDCs.
  • Where FDCs are subject to impact by motor vehicles, vehicle impact protection shall be provided.

Although no single regulation clearly defines reflectivity on FDC signs, several cities/counties like Mukilteo, WA, Town of Brighton, NY, and various other local laws (which have adopted NFPA 13) require FDC signs to have a retro-reflective red background with retro-reflective white lettering.

Reflective signs ensure that emergency responders can reach the FDC without any delay, even in dark conditions. They also help motorists to spot the FDC area and refrain from parking or obstructing it. 


NFPA 13 [Standard for Installation of Sprinkler Systems] requires FDCs in all buildings except :

  1. 1. Buildings in remote areas inaccessible for the fire department
  2. 2. Large-capacity deluge systems exceeding fire department pumping capacity
  3. 3. Single-story buildings not exceeding 2000 sq ft in area

For NFPA 14 [Standard for Installation of Standpipe and Hose Systems], there are no such exceptions. A fire department connection is always required on all standpipe systems.

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