This device is about five feet tall. It is located in a ground-floor alcove in the exterior of a commercial building on a public street in Santa Monica, California.

Red pipes

Each of the chained manual valve handles seems to also be attached to some sort of electric switch. (The junction box for the cables is visible on the wall behind the pipes in the upper-right quadrant of the picture.)

The small black attachment in the lower left quadrant is a water flow or volume meter.

Our best guess is that it has something to do with fire suppression. But what?

Why is it located on the outside of the building? What are the valve handles for? Presumably the chains are to prevent tampering by passersby, but why are the handles there at all, if the apparatus is outside the building? Who is expected to use them?

What are the two seemingly disconnected pipes at the bottom for? Some sort of drainage? The two bottom pipes seem to be linked by some sort of feedback apparatus; is this right? What is it for?

The more details in your answer, the better. I am totally mystified.


  • $\begingroup$ Note to self: I believe this is a fire sprinkler riser "room"; such a room is required to be easily accessible for maintenance and fire control so often isn't an actual room. See for example What is a sprinkler riser room? Outside access is usually required, and in places like California where the weather doesn't get cold the sprinkler risers can be situated outside the building. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 1:59

1 Answer 1


it has to be water for fire because its red. its on the out side so they can control the water without going into the building. the open pipe is to drain the water for maintenance. it does not have a meter on it so they are not paying for the flow of water.so for fire. all the valves are open. chains are so you cant open or close the valves. the electric system is used to see if valve is tampered with.

also the two valves on top where it splits to 3 pipes they are flow valves. so when it detects the flow of water it sends a alarm to the fire department leting them know the fire systems are going. and there is a fire

  • $\begingroup$ Covered all points good. $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 4:28
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. What is the name of this type of device? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ its just pipe but i would call it a manifold its the fire suppression system for the building $\endgroup$
    – joe
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 16:21

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