"Standpipe systems in tall or large buildings provide a ready and convenient water supply for fire suppression personnel. In the stair enclosure pictured, the Class I standpipe hose station outlets are located behind the stainless steel cabinet doors at the intermediate landings. (See Coffee Break Training 2006-41 and 2006-42 for an explanation of standpipe 'classes.') While every jurisdiction may have its own firefighting protocols for standpipe operations, a common historical practice was for the fire attack team to connect to the standpipe outlet on the same floor level as the fire, and stretch hose in the stair enclosure to the floor below before leaving the stair enclosure to the fire. Many organizations, including tactical courses at the National Fire Academy, now recommend connecting at the floor below the fire, then stretching hose in the stair enclosure above the fire floor before entering for an attack, therefore assisting line advancement."
Coffee Break Training - Fire Protection Series No. FP-2009-41
United States Fire Administration: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/