Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Driving While Dangerous

Here in Alberta, there is a new law prohibiting the use of cellular phones while you drive.  It took the province long enough.  It seemed it needed some research.  I had been doing the research for years by observation of myself and others.  I found that when I tried to talk on a cell and drive, I made driving errors.  I had mostly stopped answering while I drove and now with the new employer I am directed not to answer.  Just as well.

I have to be clear, it is not just my errors I could notice.  I would see a vehicle drift over a lane line or just sway within its lane. Other times, you could see the vehicle slow down or fully change a lane without signalling.  Upon getting beside the vehicle, I could see the driver talking or even worse texting.  However, when I am beside a vehicle which I saw failed to stay in its lane, I felt in peril.  If the driver left the lane once it could again.

So I have started to honk my horn as I pass such vehicles thinking if I saw a lack of lane control a few times and now I am about to pass, I must be careful the driver does not move into me.  I honk a series of steady short blasts.  It is designed to 'wake' the driver up and get me more mental attention.

To the guy in the white SUV on Thursday morning on the Yellowhead Trail westbound at about 156 Street, that is why I was honking.  You looked both confused and angry and yet you did not hang up. I will honk again in passing you if I see you breach the lane lines twice before I pass your vehicle.  To the person to whom he was speaking, you bear some responsibility too.  If you hear a series of short horn honk, hang up and call again later.  Is any call worth that much??


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The contents of this post are released for non-profit or educational use in whole or in part provided this statement and the attribution below are kept attached.

Laux Myth ... Thoughts From a Locksmith
By MartinB, Found @ http://lauxmyth.blogspot.com/ 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Love Twitter for Quantum Strangeness

[On consideration over time, I have deleted this post.  Twitter is still strange but I need not say it.  Those who wish can open an account and find out first hand.]
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The contents of this post are released for non-profit or educational use in whole or in part provided this statement and the attribution below are kept attached.

Laux Myth ... Thoughts From a Locksmith
By MartinB, Found @ http://lauxmyth.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Compromised Fire Exits on Restaurant

Update on Sunday 28 November 2011:
I revisited this restaurant and saw two significant changes.  The sign over the large refrigerator which had been taped over was removed. A new sign was added above the patio door with the MS bolt over the exit device. The maximum distance from an exit is visually about the same. You decide if it works better now. I have no way of knowing if the MS bolt is locked or not.  The patio gates are still padlocked.  I can only guess the fire department did visit.

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Update on Thursday 20 October 2011:
Occupational Health and Safety replied and tells me at times the health inspectors will forward concerns.  Good to hear. Nothing in the rest of the email suggests he read this blog post or even the original letter.  (It was clear this was forwarded to him internally and it may be others chose to clip it and remove the context needed for a better reply. Granted, the same could have happened for the other two respondents.)

My next adventure is to go back to this restaurant.  I wonder if somebody has found the place by photo alone. That is entirely plausible.

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Update on Thursday 13 October 2011:
I wrote an email to our health inspectors and copied same to local fire department and occupational health and safety. The central questions was, "Are the Capital Health Inspectors required to notify the Fire Inspectors when an exit has clearly been degraded? OR may they officially do so?"  I quickly was sent a reply from the food inspectors and it was more a non-reply.  They told me the fire department does that inspection.  Left me wondering how detailed they had read my note. In the end, they are using their inspection in the narrowest sense and do not pass anything along to the fire department even if obvious and perilous. It was a short and mostly sad letter. (The health department had not copied the fire department their note to me for some reason.)

The fire department copy was forwarded internally and I was phoned.  I called the contact back and spoke quite freely. Inspections are routine or requested by the public. This speaker tells me they do get referrals from some health inspectors.  He also explained the form for the public to trigger an inspection I had seen on the web site is treated confidentially.  (You have to be known to them but they do not release your name to the site under inspection.  A fully reasonable policy.)

Still, I would like it that a more official channel was there.  A health inspector could just follow the letter of the law and see the cooler is cool enough and the heaters are hot enough.  Customer safety ends with the food equipment and handling. It is only protection of the public in that narrow sense.  Oh well, guess that is how it is.

No word back from OHS but did get a ticket number saying somebody will read it.  Fair enough at this time.

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After telling others of this on Twitter, I finally visited a favourite eatery and got the pictures I promised. I have to admit that I have eaten here for a year or two and only noticed how bad the exits were more recently. Since it is Saturday, I can not find if the health inspector are required to flag such problems to the fire department inspectors who are the AHJ. I sent off an email and will update this posting as information arrives. (Deep in my memory, I am sure I have seen uniformed fire fighters eating here.  I am guessing they did not notice and yet this is all in the public spaces of the operation.)

I am going to start at the front door which has simple push/pull handles under a deadbolt. Well, a double cylinder deadbolt. The door is signed an emergency exit so only constitutes a risk to staff before and after the customers are present. We have all heard it, "We will only lock it when nobody is inside." I did not get a usable photo of this door.

Within the seating area, there is a glass door opening onto a patio.  This door is NOT signed an exit but is highly visible with its panic exit device under an MS deadbolt.  I could not confirm if the deadbolt was locked or not but reasonable to assume locked since it was cool enough the patio was not in use. (There is a sign slightly above this door and it points the way right toward the last photo in this series.)  I could not find a web connection for the sticker on the door so suspect it is a 'dummy' tag.



First, I would like to take a detour to the patio.  People exiting here will be on a fenced patio with one gate with another exit device. Although this is a terrible photo, there is a padlock holding the gate at knee level.  In the event of a fire, a chair would solve the problem on any of the glass panels.  (The padlock is lined up with the curb behind and so is not very visible here.  Strangely, a second padlock was sitting on a rail nearby with no apparent function at all.)



Finally, there is this door.  It is where the overhead sign mentioned about points and it too has an EXIT sign which looks like it has had the bulbs removed and red tape used to cover the word.  The door itself enters one end of the kitchen along an exterior wall.  I can only guess the sign was altered at the same time the big fridge was placed over the door.  Since you can see over the pass thru, you can tell the basic plan of the front of the kitchen and people could still exit via another door and walk past the grills and fryers. However, that door is NOT marked an exit for exactly that reason.

I could not evaluate the final exit from the back of the kitchen but the outside hardware did not make me optimistic either.

So if I may, let me post a completely plausible scenario.  Before opening when only one manager with a key is present, staff overheat a fryer and create an oil fire. This blocks the secondary exit, the patio is not an option and the primary needs a key to open from inside.

I have not named this location since I know problems like this are all too common and solving this case is not solving the problem.

 I was once asked during a night club renovation to put barrel bolts at the tops of three out of four exit doors on the front. On behalf of my employer, I explained the problem and declined and the owner was fine with that.  A few days later when my work was done, I saw the owners walking with the fire inspector hours before it was to open.  As I wrote my paperwork and the fire official wrote his on a different table, we were both in clear view of staff from the general contractor putting on the barrel bolts I had declined to install.  The owner got his papers calmly from the inspector and the inspector walked out the only remaining operable door. To make a stink that time, would have cost us a client and probably me my job.  Even now, I can not tell from our local fire department web site if complaints are written in confidentially or my name MUST be release to the business as part of the process.  Of course, I will name places if compelled to do so but why not have more eyes knowing the problem and professionally working to solve it.


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The contents of this post are released for non-profit or educational use in whole or in part provided this statement and the attribution below are kept attached.

Laux Myth ... Thoughts From a Locksmith
By MartinB, Found @ http://lauxmyth.blogspot.com/

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fire Exit vs. Fire Sepation Doors

I just posted a comment elsewhere about a question of fire doors.  I find this topic very frustrating since there is a consistent language ambiguity which confuses the issue and hence the public including building operators.

A fire separtion door is labelled on the door and frame or at least was when installed.  The label includes a time this wall, frame, door and hardware is designed to hold a fire back on the other side. The testing is more complex but imagine a single sheet of paper taped to one side.  A closed latched door should keep the paper from burning even from just heat for that period of time. And to be honest, by the time the paper does burn a person on the other side of the same door is dead from smoke exposure.

Different doors have different separation values.  Where I live, a 20 minute door is needed from a residential living suite in an apartment block going into the hallways.  The staircase doors must be 45 minutes of separation.  There are also walls and doors rated higher.

The other type of door is a fire exit which is about getting the people out of the building and out alive.  Many doors are both but one which is NOT a fire separation door is that from the building to the exterior.  This door may require an exit device for people to exit but the door and hardware is not fire rated for separation.

Back to the language, I try to call these two types of doors by distinct names.   A 'fire door' means a fire exit in some contexts and a fire separation door in others and can be both at the same time.  I would like people to start calling one group as fire separation doors and the other as fire exit doors. Also, when you say it is a separation door, give the time as rated.*  I firmly think this will move building operators and junior contractors to know the difference.  To repeat, stop saying 'fire door'.

Or perhaps I am crazy.  You tell me.


* I once saw a 20 minute door in a 45 minute frame. Given the location, the 45 made more sense but all I could do was suggest the building operator check on this. I know he would not do so even at the time.

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The contents of this post are released for non-profit or educational use in whole or in part provided this statement and the attribution below are kept attached.

Laux Myth ... Thoughts From a Locksmith
By MartinB, Found @ http://lauxmyth.blogspot.com/