Hey, where's the fire?

Flashback to the early 1990s, when this pilot fish is working as a computer operator in a medium-size data center.

"One afternoon, there's a sudden smell of smoke in the air," says fish. "Alarms go off and power to the data center is shut off.

"The local fire department responds in a timely manner, but is unable to locate the source of the smoke. All we know is that it was detected under the floor.

"Power is restored and we go about our business.

"But this same scenario is replayed several times over the next few weeks. The fire department is getting extremely annoyed, as this data center is located on the 18th floor of a building in the middle of an extremely busy section of downtown.

"An extensive search is launched to discover the source of the smoke. It's several days until we finally stumble onto the answer.

"Turns out an air-conditioning unit in the back of the data center has calcium buildup on its water collection pans under the machine. The unit would start up, and over time the heat would cause this buildup to start to smoke. The A/C unit would blow the smoke under the floor, where a smoke detector more than 50 feet away would go off.

"When the power would disengage, the smoke would stop before we could find its source."

Where there's smoke, there's usually a story for Sharky. So send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll get a stylish Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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