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Thread: Firefighting, Emergency Electrical Isolation, First Aid in ur Vintage Computer Room

  1. #1
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    Question Firefighting, Emergency Electrical Isolation, First Aid in ur Vintage Computer Room

    Hello all,

    Trust everyone on VCF is well and enjoying this hobby.

    I am starting this 'Safety' focus thread, to discuss and ask, what each of you are doing about protecting both yourself, your family (if your computer room is part of your house) and your collection.

    Want this to be an ACTIVE input thread, not simply a READ thread, so I implore those that generally just read here on VCF, to think and ADD a reply saying what they are doing in regards to this topic. Ok you may not, or do not, consider you have any risks in your collection; but most of our computers are getting old, and we all find at times we need to answer the call of Nature in the middle of running a machine; so we leave it unattended for a few minutes. Will it behave or catastrophically fail while we are gone ?

    Areas I wish to raise are Smoke detection, Firefighting, Emergency Electrical Isolation, First Aid, Call assistance if working alone and Heavy Equipment moving - in your Vintage Computer Room / Electronics room.

    Some or many of you, may have read, that I have recently built myself a transportable computer room. Its 6m by 3.5m with 2.5m ceiling, and I am about to embark on next stage of adding AC and DC power distribution, smoke detection and firefighting gear to room.

    My Computer room is remote of our house, and is a 3 min walk down the hill, so when I am in it, I will rely on my own intelligence ("read that as stupidity" quoting my other half); to stay safe and unharmed. Some of you may know, I recently had 8 stitches to first finger on RH hand, while moving heavy (+50kg) computer bits into the new room (working while tired and hurrying to beat encroaching dark and bad weather was a major factor)

    So without further rambling, I will kick off, and will try to cover the points as clearly as my Australian language skills will let me.

    After I started writing this topic, I realize this topic can have a lot of detail; so probably I should create separate thread's or maybe just specific posts under this thread covering :-

    SMOKE DETECTION What type do you have ? a. cheap photoelectric one with dead battery ? b. ionization style one ?
    and standalone or wired to house alarms ? What you have a solar powered Raspberry Pi with ir camera and fire detection i/o connected to a mobile phone, to let you know the state of your room.. wow !!!!!

    FIRE : What sort of Fire Extinguisher do you have in room ? What you DONT have one ??? For those that do, is it charged, or maybe beyond its use by date ? Is it the correct type for electrical fires ? Do you have a fire blanket, as a first line of defense ?

    EMERGENCY ELECTRICAL ISSOLATION Numerous reasons why you may urgently wish to isolate the power in your vintage computer room/electronics room. Hopefully the primary one is NOT that you are being electrocuted and are screaming for someone to turn power off.

    If this is case can a family member see a BIG red POWER OFF Isolator/disconnector button by the door, that they can Instantly press to turn off all power to room.

    Or do they have to try and get past you, without themselves getting 'caught' to turn power off ?? Have you previously discussed with them emergency isolation to your area ?

    Important point here is if they feel quickest time saving solution is to turn off power to house, will that leave you suddenly in total darkness ?
    I personally know how bad that is, having in my teens, been caught on live power and having a family member turn off main power switch of house, plunging room into TOTAL darkness. To this day 50 years later, I cannot cope with going from a lit room to total darkness in one step.

    Maybe its a good idea to add an emergency battery light to ceiling ? Add it next to the smoke detector, you DO HAVE already fitted !

    FIRST AID Do you have first aid kit in your computer room, or in a room nearby ? How complete is it ? Are the contents fresh ?

    CALL ASSISTANCE Areas to discuss here are if your working alone, can you easily call for help, NOT just call the kids to bring you a coffee or tea ?

    HEAVY EQUIPMENT MOVING, Ok many of you have easily lifted computers, but even a desktop pc can get damn heavy, when your climbing a ladder to put it on an upper shelf.

    Or for us 'stupid' enough to collect the heavy iron vintage gear, that has hard drives in the 50kg weight bracket; what do you do to lift or move these very heavy items ?

    Do you have friends or family that you can ask to assist in moving bits around ? Ok some of us are getting a bit too mature to be moving, what we happily lifted in our youth.

    So over to each and EVERY one of you to reply and contribute.

    regards
    David

  2. #2
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    Smoke detectors are an essential. I also prefer to have large, conspicuous shut-offs for both electricity, fuel gas, and water supplies when possible (currently renting while we find a house to buy). Quarter turn ball valves or stops instead of multi-turn gate valves.

    For fire fighting, we keep a general purpose dry chem in the kitchen, but I've also got a CO2 extinguisher for the electronics. Picked up the CO2 extinguisher at the MIT Flea for $4 and had it rebuilt a B-Lann fire equipment supply in Troy, NY. ABSOLUTELY have your extinguishers checked and tested or replaced by the stamped date, especially for dry chem -- they settle and pack over time and WILL fail when you need them worst. I had that happen with a small engine fire in a dump truck -- grabbed the DOT required extinguisher, which was in date, squeezed trigger and...nothing. Grabbed the one out of the dump truck sitting next to it, which was out of date but showed full charge and...tiny pfffft and nothing. Ended up putting it out with a handful of sand from the lot.

    Which is another great emergency device -- bucket of dry sand. Never goes out of date. Just don't throw it on anything mechanical you want to keep.

    For moving stuff around, I've got a 5,500 pound pallet jack, and a hand truck. I haven't moved it down from NY yet but I also purchased a 5,000 pound lift propane forklift. A great investment, super handy, paid $800 USD for it. It's currently living at RetroHacker_'s house.

  3. #3

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    SMOKE DETECTION
    anything that is old enough to smoke is shut off when not in use, not just by the power switch but via the breaker, power is cut to all electronic devices outside the living area

    FIRE
    we have a couple ABC extinguishers on hand and charged at all times


    FIRST AID
    I damage myself nearly daily, kits are both in garage and in the laundry room which is central to the house

    CALL ASSISTANCE
    I never work alone, that is exactly how I nearly lost my dad, always someone around, maybe not in direct line of fire but never more than OH SHIT distance

    HEAVY EQUIPMENT MOVING

    I delvered piano's for a good portion of my life, I know a trick or two, and I know when something is out of my scope before trying it

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    Well its been 6 hrs since I first posted this.

    Its had 41 views, and only 2 replies.

    I do wonder if the remaining 39 foke, have gone off to look at their own computer rooms/work areas to consider the points that have been raised so far, before posting a reply.

    Either that or unlikely as it is, they are simply armchair vintage computer enthusiast's.

    I do encourage you all to read, think AND REPLY. I started this Thread not for my own benefit, but for the benefit of all out there.

    Its encouraging to see those that have so far replied, have indicated they are prepared, and in both cases have indicated they have needed to use one or more of these safety points.

    I am certain all of us can learn well from each other on these important issues, just as we learn from each other about our computer problems.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Osgeld View Post
    SMOKE DETECTION
    anything that is old enough to smoke is shut off when not in use, not just by the power switch but via the breaker, power is cut to all electronic devices outside the living area

    FIRE
    we have a couple ABC extinguishers on hand and charged at all times


    FIRST AID
    I damage myself nearly daily, kits are both in garage and in the laundry room which is central to the house

    CALL ASSISTANCE
    I never work alone, that is exactly how I nearly lost my dad, always someone around, maybe not in direct line of fire but never more than OH SHIT distance

    HEAVY EQUIPMENT MOVING

    I delivered piano's for a good portion of my life, I know a trick or two, and I know when something is out of my scope before trying it
    Thank you for the answers. A good reply, with very poignant points.
    Do take care with your daily damage. May it only be 'damage' you do to a chocolate cookies jar.

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    Bear in mind that the extinguishers are there to assist your escape.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pearce_jj View Post
    Bear in mind that the extinguishers are there to assist your escape.
    That is a VERY good point.. One can replace the computers, but one cannot generally replace oneself !

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    Indeed, you need to decide before it's too late if the extinguisher is adequate for completely removing the problem, or if you need to use it to get out and call the fire department.

    Speaking of calling the fire department, I hear those guys really love an external disconnect right below your meter box. I've put them in where possible. You can go ahead and put a padlock on if you're worried about people messing with it or kids throwing the switch just for fun -- pretty much any cheapie padlock will come off with a fire axe or other tool. Some municipalities require them, but many don't.

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    Got a disconnect box at the head of my driveway--kills the buried 12KV distribution. Probably the best--the transformer sitting in my yard could just as easily catch fire.

    Anyone else use Halon fire extinguishers? (I have a large dry chemical one as well).

  10. #10
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    I've got two Halon hand-held units I keep meaning to sell -- apparently the various Halons are valuable since production has stopped but some really critical systems still require it (government and military stuff that hasn't switched over to FM200 from what I understand). CO2 seems like a much safer clean agent extinguisher. Important to remember as well: a clean agent like CO2 will stop a fire, but won't necessarily prevent it from re-igniting the way a dry chem extinguisher will.

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