1. #1
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    Default Need pre plan help for telephone exchange

    We have a telephone exchange building in our town that is out of the normal and I am trying to do a preplan for. It is all cemment and brick with a basement and a ground level. Pitch and Gravel roof. In the basement you have a large desil generator, and a large battery bank. In thier own rated rooms. You also have a storrage room and 2 offices. The bldg is not sprinklered, does have a monitored alarm system, and not stand alone. On the ground level you have typical offices, lunch room etc and a room where you have stacks of electronic equipment for the phone exchange and internet. This building is old, 1950's and on sides B and D you have a strip mall for about 300 feet in each direction. You can enter on A and C side.
    I guess my main question is with the battery bank. What can we expect to go wrong with it and what would you do?

  2. #2
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    Default Work with the Telco to write the pre-plan

    Those battery banks supply the D/C voltage that you and I know as dial tone, probably to the surrounding community. The good news is that they are likley well maintained and the Telco monitors their condition and status so the service they provide to customers remains highly reliable. Alot of the computer, networking and switch gear that they use in the building is probably powered off of the D/C feeds coming from the batteries. This can mean that there are large D/C bus (wiring) that is extended around equipment rooms. The main thing to keep in mind is that this DC power will not be shut down if you turn all the Bldg. A/C breakers off, pull the meters, and/or have the utility shut off the supply. The DC will only be safe when one of two conditions is met, the batteries drain down -OR- they are properly dicsonnected. The batteries are typically, constantly trickle charged by inverters/rectifiers that are powered from the local utility and by the auxiliary generator in a power outage. This whole process can be automated so that the A/C voltage supply never stops, as long as the generator has fuel ( a large on site fuel resevoir may be another concern especially if it is in near proximity to the building). So in short you could have alot of complications ....

    It would be best to work with the operators of the building to find out where their EPO (emergency power off) switches are located, so that you know how to properly disconnect both the A/C and D/C power distribution, if needed. As far as the battery room itself, the batteries themselves will remain live even if EPO's are activated, until there voltage is drained down. Using water in that room could get real interesting, I'd suspect they also have some form of dry extinguishment (Halon or newer products) which adds yet another layer of concern. All the more reason to contact the folks in charge of the place and ask all these questions and more as part of your pre-plan. I'm rather new to FF but have over 25 years in Telecom and some of these Central Offices can pose a real hazard depending on how well or poorly they were designed. Hope this helps.

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    FYI, the building is called a "CO" or "central office". We have a CO across the street from our firehouse. The phone company (SNET at the time) did a pre-plan walkthrough with us and pointed out all this stuff. I would imagine they'll do the same for you.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  4. #4
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    Our local phone company provided us a training video tape of their Central Office set ups, hazards, etc. and also offered walk thru's anytime we wanted one.
    Buckle Up, Slow Down, Arrive Alive
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  5. #5
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    This place sounds like a death trap to me. Get the life hazard taken care of and then carefully decide where you go from there. Based on your description, air management is going to be VITAL. Does this place have windows?

    Read about this telephone company fire.

    VII. History -- - The Bell System's worst single service disaster

    This excerpt is from John Brooks _Telephone_, long out of print. It details how in 1975 a 4,000 man Bell System task force restored service to 170,000 phones knocked out by fire at the 13th Ave. and Second Street switching office in New York City. . .

    "The most local and transient, but not the least dramatic, of these was a fire of unknown origin that swept through a switching center at Second Avenue and Thirteenth Street in lower Manhattan on February 27, 1975, causing the worst single service disaster ever suffered by any single Bell operating company. Starting around midnight in the cable vault under the eleven-story building's basement, the fire spread rapidly upward. Alert work by New York City firemen confined it to the lower floors and saved the building itself from destruction, but dense smoke from burning cable insulation suffused the unburdened parts of the building and virtually all the equipment in it was put out of service. By afternoon, when the fire was finally declared under control -- with no loss of life to either firemen or telephone people-- twelve Manhattan telephone exchanges, embracing three hundred city blocks and 104,00 subscriber lines serving 170,000 telephones, were out of service, and among the institutions bereft of working telephones were six hospitals and medical centers, eleven firehouses, three post offices, one police precinct, nine public schools, and three higher education institutions, including New York University.

    Before fireman had given telephone repairmen the O.K. to enter the building, the Bell System had begun one of the typical crisis mobilizations of which it is justly proud -- indeed, the largest such mobilization ever. New York Telephone, AT&T Long Lines, Western Electric, and Bell Labs contingents converged on the area, and a crisis headquarters -- inevitably called a war room -- was established in a rented storefront on Fourteenth Street, under the immediate direction of Lee Oberst, New York City area vice- president of New York Telephone. (Oberst, the type-cast hero for such and operation, was a South Bronx-born man of 54 who had started his Bell System career in 1946 as a twenty-eight dollar a week switchman.) Within twenty-four hours, emergency telephone service had been restored to the medical, police and fire facilities affected, and in hardly more time the task force assessing damage and beginning to restore service had reached its peak strength of four thousand, working around the the clock in twelve hour shifts of two thousand each. Western Electric officials were ordered to commandeer or quickly manufacture huge quantities or replacement equipment; shipments by air began the day after the fire, and eventually the amount of equipment shipped in amounted to three thousand tons.

    The work to be done in the damaged building varied all the way from installing new ESS equipment and writing computer programs for it to cleaning smoke-damaged relays with toothbrushes and Q- tips. A couple of happy circumstances speeded the work along. One of these was the fact that the the third floor of the burned building happened to be standing vacant at the time, thus providing space for the rapid installation of an entirely new main frame for handling trunk calls, which was shipped by cargo jet on February 28 from Western Electric's Hawthorne works. Another was the convenient availability for emergency use of excess switching capacity, from the ESS installations at Seventh Avenue and Eighteenth Street and at New York Telephone headquarters at Sixth and Forty-second. Such capacity could temporarily accommodate 28,000 of the 104,000 served lines.

    "The miracle on Fourteenth Street," Oberst kept calling it -- a bit melodramatically, and it appeared for a time, overoptimistically. On March 11, New York Telephone announced plans to restore service to all ordinary telephone subscribers on March 16. As that date approached, it developed that water used in the fire-fighting operation had damaged many of the cables entering the building and that the miracle would be postponed. Except for a few stray problem lines, service was restored just before midnight on March 21 -- twenty two days after the disaster, instead of the year or more that would have been required under normal conditions. The restoration was ceremoniously marked by a call from William Ellinghaus, New York Telephone's president, to Mayor Beame of New York at the mayoral residence, Gracie Mansion. The cost of the job, still not precisely calculated six months later, had been about ninety million dollars, of which almost all was covered by insurance, so the disaster cost no increase in rates to subscribers or lost profits to stockholders. It remains a fair question whether New York Telephone had been prudent, in the most telephone-dependent area in the country, to house twelve exchanges and five toll switching machines in a single building. (2)

    (2) _New York Times_, February 28, March 13, March 24, March 30, 1975; AT&T Share Owners Newsletter, First Quarter 1975.
    Last edited by NYSmokey; 04-10-2006 at 09:58 PM.
    Tom

    Never Forget 9-11-2001

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    I work for the local telco as well as vollie for the department.

    The DC is always on i my CO, no disconnects.
    We have diaconnects for the AC as well as the generator.
    Our building is Halon protected in the CO only offices in front are for all purposes exspendable.

    Check with the telco, explain what you need and ask them for help.
    the worst thing you could do is bust down the door and hose the place down.

    Another concern with the batteries is the large amount of ACID.

    I have 24 2.5 volt batteries holding about 6-7 gallons of acid.

    Again the very best thing to do is talk to them, They should be more than willing to help you help them.

    I would!

  7. #7
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    Thanks
    I already made the call before I started the post. The more info the better.
    Good to hear from FF who may have encountered the same.

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