Where's the fire?

It's the late 1970s, and this data center has a high-performance IBM 360/75 mainframe that sports a massive 1 MB of core memory -- one of only four in the world, reports a computer operator pilot fish working there.

"I was a smoker and, of course, smoking in the computer room was forbidden due to the smoke detectors," fish says.

"One night shift I was the lone person in the building. I was walking through a hallway not even close to the computer room when I heard a very loud whooshing noise that sounded like hundreds of tires being deflated at the same time."

Fish runs to the computer room and sees a cloud of white, heavy fog covering the entire room. He knows what happened: The Halon fire-suppression system has deployed.

But there doesn't seem to be any fire.

Fish calls the operations manager emergency number and tells him what happened. In short order he's no longer alone -- first he's joined by a company of firefighters and after that the operations manager.

First question the operations manager asks: "Why were you smoking in the computer room?" I was on the other side of the building at the time, fish replies. But the manager starts to yell at fish, accusing him of lying.

"The next day the manager was making the case to get me fired in front of upper management," says fish. "As timing would have it, the fire chief entered and reported that the cause of the false fire alarm and Halon discharge was unmaintained smoke detectors.

"Someone in the meeting told me later that all eyes turned to the operations manager.

"I didn't get fired. But guess who did?"

Tell Sharky your true tale of IT life, and nobody will know who to blame -- I'll file off the identifying marks before I use it. So send me your story at sharky@computerworld.com. You can also comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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