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Re: Fire protection in ISPs and collocation facilities

  • From: Sean Donelan
  • Date: Sun Nov 05 18:37:57 2000

On Sun, 05 November 2000, "Howard C. Berkowitz" wrote:
> Perhaps it's worth observing that fire is but one of the classic 
> Elemental Forces, and I've personally had far more problems with 
> water than with fire.  In my experiences, the water came from 
> firefighting elsewhere in the building, but several instances of CO 
> flooding and the like have been mentioned in recent posts--New 
> Rochelle (?) AT&T vs. Verizon?

Welcome to business reality.  1999 wasn't the first time the Rochelle
Park central office flooded.  It also flooded in 1977.  New Jersey Bell
decided not to move the central office after the first flooding incident.
I think you will find it is more cost effective for Bell Atlantic to
pay off a few subscribers every few decades than to move the central
office.  Bell Atlantic has 18 central offices located in 100 year flood
zones.  But BA/Verizon only pays refunds on complete loss of telephone
service.  For example, 37,000 people lost all phone service in Rochelle
Park. If you assume BA paid each subscriber $4 compensation, its works
out to about $148,000. A conservative estimate is $6-$10 million to move
the central office.  If you were a bean counter what would you do?

> While I doubt it's practical to develop exhaustive water protection 
> measures to guard against large-scale flooding, unless there's a move 
> to convert surplus submarines to colo centers, I'd like to see the 
> fire protection code be more exhaustive about diverting water away 
> from unaffected faciities.

This is an admirable goal, but I think the fire codes are the wrong place
to put it.  There is already too much junk in the fire codes, unsupported
by scientific evidence.  FEMA and the building codes cover flood plains.
Although there is always something.  If you literally followed every
contingency site requirement people have, there is no place on earth which
meets them all.

I sometimes think companies focus too much on the hardware.  You should
talk to the techs and engineers keeping things going.  A good set of
people can keep things going even during the unexpected, unplanned, and
unknown.  Of course, you need to give them a fighting chance, but concrete
won't keep the water out if the door is left open.  Whether it is network
engineers or building engineers, clue is important.

I'm working with some facility engineers who were trained in the navy.
Waiting for the field service engineer to show up sometimes isn't an
option on a ship. Not only do they know how to deal with water, but they
also know how to keep things going.