Did I read that right ?
You went around and randomly yanked on power cables to generate power alerts ?
“What’s the smallest fire I could start to be noticed, but not so big that I risk burning down the building?” is one of the stranger thoughts to have entered my head, in many years of working in IT. No, I'm not a closet pyromaniac, so why was I entertaining such thoughts? I had found myself stuck in a data centre on a Sunday …
sounded similar to my last data center experience in a brand new DC. One hall not fitted out was used as a storeage area with very unreliable exit card reader. Easy to get in to storage hall to grab new hardware for server farm under construction, damned scary getting out occasionally. Nothing like solid concrete all around to give a feeling of claustrophobia. Fortunately guards were aware of issue and checked often to ensure no profanities uttered.
I was very happy I had my cell phone when the door to my camper shut and latched behind me. It is a HiLo camper and the top half drops down over the bottom half for travel and storage. It was in storage in my barn and I was checking on the battery to see if it was charged up. The battery monitor is on the inside and opposite the doors.
The problem is the door is in two parts, one on the top half of the camper and one one the bottom. Both doors open out and the latch is on the bottom of the top and outside door. Works great normally when you are outside of the camper, but when the camper is down you cannot reach the latch from the inside. The battery was weak and I didn't have enough clearance to put the top up.
I was also lucky one of my kids were home to rescue me quickly.
I can imagine that being trapped in a building with no access to a loo would be pretty bad, because at some point you're going to have to pick which corner to wee in.
However, at least in an office you might have the relative luxury of a bin or pot plant, in a data hall you're going to have to pick a spot that won't end up with you getting an electric shock in a very painful part of the body.
Never had to resort to raising alarms though.... At one data centre, the access card would let you out at any hour, but not back in after 6PM. An alarm would be raised if the door was open for more than thirty seconds. That made going to the toilet somewhat problematic, if you were there by yourself.
That situation warrants at the very least a sternly worded letter to your boss and the highest boss of the DC involved. It all worked out this time, but that was a seriously risky situation to be in.
Also, am I the only one who thinks it strange someone is allowed (let alone wants) to work in that situation without a buddy present? Accident happen. Even a minor one can turn deadly if there is noone to help you out. At the very least it'd be someone to talk to to while the time away.
Indeed, SOP for people who work alone and/or are particularly vulnerable should be to have some sort of check system. Either you have to call in at set times (and if you don't they start looking for you), or you have people checking in on you periodically (there were guards at this place right ?).
In this case the site operator was criminally negligent and as above should have been reported for H&S breaches. At the very minimum, their security staff should have been checking on him at regular intervals.
I have to admit that I've often had situations where I find myself thinking "that wasn't too clever, what if ..." when I realise that the wife won't be home to find me for another 8 hours. And I know for certain that 8 hours is well past my "personal endurance" ;-)
My current place of employment has a mandown system for those who have to work alone for some reason. Basically an oldtimey cellphone shaped thing you clip to your belt that starts beeping if you havent moved for over 60 seconds. You then get 30 seconds to cancel the alarm or it sends an automated alarm to the securitystation and the security callout line and also starts beeping like all hell.
I personally hate the things but do see the use.
They usually work on a local radio system and I've also seen walkie-talkies and pagers with such a function. With everything inside the Faraday cage there's no reception problem. That said, for the two commercial DCs I've had to work in I had weak but sufficient phone and UMTS signal.
"When I got to the exit however, my access card wouldn’t unlock the door."
I find it very frustrating when i encounter doors to rooms like this that require a card for both direction through the same door, when the room in question has no other exits (besides fire exits which can't be opened from outside).
Knowing who entered a room and when is very useful, but it is very rare that it is actually truly necessary to know who has left a room and when, a simple push to exit button would be more than sufficient in most cases.
You have to use the card to get out for security reasons, to prevent you passing your card to somebody outside so they can enter, i.e by pushing the card under the door or give or giving it to somebody who is leaving to allow somebody else to enter.
One company that I visited would not allow you to use your card to mleave if you had not used it to enter, i.e. you cannot need to leave if you have not entered.
This is too funny. Pass the card under the door? Why not just *open* the door and let them in? Far easier and without the fake Mission Impossible crap.
What, exactly, do they think they are stopping here? If an authorized person is going to let an unauthorized person in then they will do it.
I got locked into our NOC once, years ago. Despite my very explicit instructions that all electric door strikes must fail to the unlocked state, the contractor did whatever they please.
I called facilities, but they couldn't get the door to release either. Fortunately, we had a big plate glass window into the lobby (so that people could see the pretty NOC without having to enter the NOC).
I'm a pretty big guy, so I simply threw a swivel chair through the larger of the windows (the most expensive one) as a sign of my displeasure. Once I got access to my tools, I ripped the entire door frame out of the wall.
I had no more trouble getting into and out of the NOC that weekend. :-)
United Cutlery makes a very nice "M48" hammer that I used to carry with me specifically for breaking glass or wood doors down. Management ONCE asked if it was necessary, and I just responded that I could bring the tomahawk (same line) instead. Never a question after that, but I was put on the Saftey committee responsible for fire drills, alarms, exit notices and such.
Which then gave me the excuse to bring in 10 stories worth of climbing rope (7th floor) and 10 rappelling harnesses, with enough 550 cord to attach to them and haul back up. Management was grateful I never got to use it.
Most fire sensors are removable for maintenance purposes. When they are removed, the lack of a sensor usually raises an alarm. So, instead of "starting a fire" simply remove one of the sensors (commonly they "unscrew" a 1/2 turn or so). While it won't indicate a fire, it will indicate a fault which should alert someone.
The other alternative I've seen is that some sensors have a magnetic reed switch in them for testing purposes. If you hold a magnet up to the sensor, it trips the alarm. The person testing the sensor wiring used a magnet on a stick to hold it next to the ceiling sensor. Truly a BOFH device when used properly (around noon on Friday).
Kick started a potenitally final build, nipped outside for a smoke while the 15mins of automated tests went though their paces. Went to go back in and relealised that my pass, building keys, phone and wallet were on my desk. No way back in and no way to contact anyone and the building alarm was behind a locked door. Luckily the toilet did not need a door pass.
I had to sleep in the foyer, fortunately I woke before the first person to arrive the day after came in and pretended to have come out from the toilet, followed them through the door, went to my desk and committed my changes and it was assumed I worked all night to get the software ready for the testing before it was released the following day so got sent home for some sleep with a pat on the back and a full night of overtime.
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