back to article BOFH: The day the office budget bombed – literally

“And this was the extinguisher here, was it?” the Health and Safety feeb asks. “That’s the one!” I say. “And you don’t know of any reason how it came to be filled with diesel instead of water?” “None!” the PFY lies. “But then it may have been like that when we took the building over!” Luckily the H&S droid isn’t likely to …


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  1. The New Turtle

    Diesel fuel doesn't burn well.

    But this IS a story after all. Fireball because the diesel needed a little help.

    1. M7S

      @the New Turtle - Diesel does burn well

      4.36: It was agreed that the source of fuel for the fireball was finely dispersed diesel fuel

      4.38 The fireball is likely to have been caused by the ignition of airborne fuel within the coach.

    2. John I'm only dancing

      Diesel does burn well

      One a fire has started, it is very difficult to stop, surely you've seen vans that have gone up on the side of the motorway?

      PS: Could do with a few similar devices here.

    3. TeeCee Gold badge

      It does if it's atomised as a spray and heated, can be explosive even.

      Something like, picking an example out of thin air, spraying it out of a fire extinguisher onto a fire should do the job nicely.....

    4. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      DIesel doesn't burn?

      Tell that to the guys at Buncefield - I heard the bang and saw the flames and I can assure it was burning.

      1. Stu_The_Jock


        I also got a free video projector because of it, OK the screws were all a bit rusty and it was a bit bashed after the little incendiary incident destroyed my employers head office. Even seen a 19" rack of SCSI drives that's been thrown 12 feet or so into the racks on the other side of the room ? So yes you're correct. . . . diesel DOES burn . . . what are these "diesel doesn't burn" people on . . . how do they thing the "bangs" inside a diesel engine occur ?

        1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

          The operative phrase was "doesn't burn well", which is true. Diesel is almost inert unless it's either atomised, or heated until it starts to evaporate, or heated and put under pressure.

          Notice that diesel engines don't have sparkplugs? They don't work. You can get a petrol engine running with diesel by priming it with regular petrol and then relying on the pressure of the cylinders to ignite the diesel once it's running, but it'll get pretty annoyed at you in short order and probably won't work after you've stopped it, mostly because it's not mixing enough air and not operating at a high enough pressure to fully ignite the diesel fuel - which is also, incidentally, why putting diesel in a petrol engine produces lots and lots and lots of lovely smoke so everyone can see what a numpty you've been.

          The reason is, the fractions we generally call Diesel aren't particularly volatile. You can toss a match in the stuff and it'll go out. You can do the same with a puddle of regular unleaded tool but it's a lot more risky because of all the vapours hovering above it. To get it to become volatile enough to burn you have to warm it up until it starts to evaporate. A diesel engine relies on compression effect to heat the diesel until it vapourises and explodes. That's were the bang comes from.

          Which isn't surprising when you remember that the diesel engine was originally invented to burn brewery waste...

          1. mr.K



            1. No solid or liquid actually burns. Only vapor burns. So that goes for all liquids, not just diesel.

            2. It is perfectly valid to say that something burns well even though it might take some effort to get going. I will for instance claim that firewood burns rather well.

            3. Petrol engines can't really run on diesel, but diesel engines can run on petrol. However the petrol will no lubricate the diesel pump and thus break the engine. You might get a petrol engine to work with diesel as you say when you have petrol as a primer, but you are really running it on weak petrol and you will clog the spark plug fast. Diesel engines on the other hand are in essence multifuel engines.

            4. Diesel engines does not rely on compression to heat the diesel until it vaporises and explodes. The compression of the diesel is done in the diesel pump and pressed into the engine when the piston is at the top or near the top. The nozzle causes the atomisation and the heat that is caused by the compression of the _air_ in the cylinder ignites it. If you compressed a diesel and air mixture with the piston it would ignite earlier and earlier as the engine heated. You would also need to run it on much lower compression. The compression does not heat the diesel, it heats the air.

            5. The point here was that spraying diesel under pressure onto a fire is maybe not like throwing gasoline on the fire, but still is likely to fuel it.

    5. A J Stiles


      No -- diesel fuel burns *very* well.

      Actually persuading it to start burning, is the difficult bit. You probably could use diesel fuel in an extinguisher and it would put out small fires very effectively.

  2. Goldmember
    Thumb Up

    Back on form

    Nice one Simon

  3. paultnl

    I want one

    Where can I buy one of those switches?

    1. Treker
      Thumb Up

      Is there a discount for case lots?

  4. Simon Robinson
    Thumb Up

    IT purchasing

    Far more believable than, say, a small network-addressable incendiary device inside the boss’s “4-port switch”.

    Where can I buy these? Need a few here...

  5. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Ahhhh - no Friday is complete without it.

    Genius, pure genius. Addictive as hell, and disturbingly inspiring 8-)

  6. Ragarath

    Switches needed

    I need some of those switches, got any spare? They never learn do they, just leave the systems guys alone :)

  7. Chris007

    F**king brilliant

    see title

  8. Mike Wood

    Where can I hire the PFY, I have a few lusers I could dispose of that way

  9. Isendel Steel


  10. geekclick

    Covering your tracks with fire and urine!

    I can think of no better way.....

  11. Desperate Olive

    CSI Luton

    "one where they don't have to call in the kebab fat spatter analyst or rely on a shell-suit arse print to identify the culprit"

    I can't stop laughing and I cannot even tell my colleagues why:)

  12. AnoNymousGerbil
    Thumb Up


    "I happened to notice the odour of ... urine."

    "Oh, you mean when I tried to put the fire out after the extinguisher made things worse?"

    "The same way you tried to put your boss out?" the H&S guy snaps, holding up another bag with the boss's scorched shirt in it.

    "It was an act of mercy!"

    Act of mercy indeed :D :D

  13. Manta Bloke

    "No, no, that'll just be your access port flaking out. Tell you what, I'll send the PFY up with a new desktop switch for you - we'll get that lit up in no time."

    Epic :)

    1. laird cummings


      ...Lending a whole new meaning to "hot swap."

  14. Jad
    Thumb Up

    best for a while

    Diesel doesn't burn easily ... which is good because the fire would stay localised ... but unless you can tell your diesel from your petrol whilst fire is burning around you it would cause you to panic and cause you to act irrationally :)

  15. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    What if it wasn't just diesel?

    Some BOFH style additives should provide some more OOMPH!

    Or should that be WHOOOOOOMP!!!

    Here, et me install a new switch for you.

    1. damian Kelly

      My magic fire starting mixture: equal parts petrol, brake fluid, diesel and old engine oil (chip fat will do at a push). Easy to light and pour. Very tricky to put out........

    2. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      Something like…..

      A composition of 21% benzene, 33% high octane petrol (gasoline to merkins), 46% polystyrene with a trace amount of thermite and white phosphorus.

      Naplam explosion icon.

  16. Bruno Girin

    "CSI Luton and a new episode twist: one where they don't have to call in the kebab fat spatter analyst or rely on a shell-suit arse print to identify the culprit"

    'nuff said...

  17. stucs201

    Obviously what they need to do now... find an alternative way of fighting fires in the boss's office. I suggest connecting it to the halon system.

  18. Lloyd

    Oh come now, Overtime?????

    That's just too far fetched. When was the last time anyone in IT got paid overtime? You can have a discretionary 5% bonus for the extra 250 hours you spent dealing with idiots this year.

    1. Why Not?


      don't think of it as Overtime, think of it more of as 'Insurance'

      To be said in a Mafia style accent.

      Again my week is complete, Simon glad to have you back is it for good now or will you continue to tease us with long breaks?

      Also why has BOFH not been exposed to 'Project Process' & ITIL more plenty of great material there.

      I think Gate meetings with a twist and a service catalog with 'special items' would fun.

    2. Why Not?


      don't think of it as Overtime, think of it more of as 'Insurance'

      To be said in a Mafia style accent.

      Again my week is complete, Simon glad to have you back is it for good now or will you continue to tease us with long breaks?

      Also why has BOFH not been exposed to 'Project Process' & ITIL more plenty of great material there.

      I think Gate meetings with a twist and a service catalog with 'special items' would fun.

  19. earl grey

    well done

    1000 percent better than last episode and so much more back on proper form. hoist one!

  20. TeeCee Gold badge

    "...we'll get that lit up in no time."

    You swine. This one's a Shaggy Dog Story, isn't it?

    1. Daniel B.


      It's a SHOOT the Shaggy Dog Story.

      Or maybe a Burn the Shaggy Dog Story?

  21. M Gale

    diesel burns very well...

    ...when hot, or under pressure. It will also burn quite nicely when wicked into cloth, a little like wax will.

    So soak the boss, apply a little flame, and I think the word here is "whumph". Bit like that icon there.

  22. Don Rickert

    A thing of beauty...

    Such a pleasure. Thank you, Simon.

  23. Herby

    In the woods (camping) we call diesel...

    By its proper term: "Boy scout fluid". Pour a bit on a stack of wood, and it lights up quite easily. Keeps the soul quite warm when the fire is going strong.

    A finely atomized spray would make a great flame thrower. Then again, isn't that what they used?

  24. JR

    It's been a while... Since we've had a good maiming by an act of PFY revenge. Good Job!

  25. skeptical i

    "as soon as your manager is ready to speak we'll get to the bottom of it"

    I'm guessing a trip to the hospital is in order, then?

    until ($breathing == 0) { ++$morphine; } # Much more humane way for a burn victim to go, no?

    -----^^^----- Angel of mercy

  26. D. M

    They've done it before

    Somehow, the life support machine stopped function...

    A personal visit is not required.

    Diesel burns very well (it is just slightly harder to start).

  27. johnwerneken

    Love It!

    I wonder if BOFH could give tips on how to dispatch Heads of State and other equally useless bosses with similar efficiency.

  28. Murray Fraser

    lp0 on fire

    telnet hsswitch2


    Connected to

    Escape character is '^]'.

    User Access Verification

    Username: bofh




    hsswitch2#terminal monitor


    % Incomplete command.

    hsswitch2#ignite ?

    now ignite immediately

    at ignite at a specific time/date

    in ignite after a time interval

    cancel Cancel pending ignition

    hsswitch2#ignite now

    Nov 18 23:23:15: %SYS-5-IGNITION: Initiated ignition due to user request.

    Nov 18 23:23:20: %SYS-0-ONFIRE: Supervisor is on fire!

    Nov 18 23:23:24: %SYS-2-SUP_TEMPMINORFAIL: Supervisor minor temperature threshold exceeded

    Nov 18 23:23:26: %SYS-0-SUP_TEMPMAJORFAIL: Supervisor major temperature threshold exceeded

  29. Borg.King

    Not a printer fire then?

    Nice one Simon, though the office incendiary device de rigueur is an HP LaserJet printer, which might be ignited with a simple firmware upgrade apparently.

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