What's the sound of a data center mistake? WHOOSH!

Flashback to the mid-1990s, when this IT contractor pilot fish is assigned to the engine plant for a major automaker -- and his cubicle is right next to the computer room.

"We were working one day when the Halon alarm went off," says fish. "Then we heard the whoosh as the Halon dumped.

"Turns out that the plant electricians were replacing all the manual-pull fire alarm boxes with a new version and, contrary to union rules, had sent out an apprentice to do the work without supervision.

"The computer room had manual pulls by both doors that somewhat resembled the regular fire alarm pulls, but there was a big sign stating that this was for the computer room Halon system. The apprentice ignored the differences and the sign, tried to replace the station and shorted it out in the process, causing the Halon dump.

"Luckily, nothing was damaged and no systems shut down.

"Later that day we heard the alarm go off again -- then whoosh, another dump. This time the apprentice was showing some of the union electricians what he had been doing and, sure enough, he shorted it again.

"This left the fire-suppression system without any Halon, which was very expensive in those days if it could even be found. I moved on soon after, so I don't know if the plant found more Halon or had to replace the system."

Sharky always needs to find more true tales of IT life. Send yours to me at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll get a stylish Shark shirt every time I use one. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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