Reply to post: Re: The big red button

The silence of the racks is deafening, production gear has gone dark – so which wire do we cut?

macjules Silver badge

Re: The big red button

Great story.

In the mid-eighties at a "secret government installation", or "Whitehall" as the rest of us called it, I was once asked to audit some of our security protocols for emergency shutdowns. The server room shutdown control was a suitably impressive big red button, on a bright yellow base with a sign saying "Do Not Touch Except in Emergency" plus various threats as to what would happen if you did. Back then there was a tendency to colour halon controls in green, so one might expect a separate green button on a yellow base with a similar sign above it.

But no, this is government contractors at the lowest price we are talking about. Thankfully nobody had ever had to hit the red server room power button, as the halon door lock and gas release had also been wired into it. Checking the evacuation protocol for around 5 admins it would appear appear that the Halon lockdown would have killed all of them since it gave less than 3 seconds to evacuate the room before engaging the door lock and releasing the flame suppressant.

What most distressed the department was not the fact that it could have killed 5 admins, but that it was in clear breach of HSE guidelines, and most of all in breach of a new piece of legislation, Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1985, or RIDDOR. Typical civil service.

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