Putting Out Fires

"It burns when I program"

This week at work we were faced with one of those pre-launch fires. Stakes were high and emotions where even higher. Nothing feels worse in the work place then the pressure of tackling something like lost data or an uncontrollable outage. Needless to say, after long hours and several dead ends we were able to triage the problem and prevent a launch disaster. Looking back at it now, several days later, it reminded me of the time our barn caught fire growing up.

I can still remember driving home from town with my mom. We saw smoke in the distance and the closer we got to home the bigger the smoke clouds got. When we finally got into view of our farm it was a sickening feeling, watching smoke belch out from all sides. Mom slammed on the gas and we raced down the last stretches of rural stone roads. Upon arrival mom shouted for us kids to make sure all of the animals were out and to get the hoses ready as she ran to the house to call the fire department.

Luckily for us, we lived around some great neighbors. One of them had already called the fire department and was in our barn throwing buckets of water on hay that had spontaneously combusted. I brought up the garden hoses for him and we had most of fire contained when the fire department arrived. In the end thankfully the only thing destroyed was hay and some minor damage to the barn. Probably the longest part of the whole ordeal was the with the fire department after the fire. They spent several hours studying what had happened and helped us make sure it wouldn’t happen again.

Putting out our “fire” at work was a fourteen hour process, much longer then the incident with the barn. The time spent afterward understanding what happened and why though has taken several days. There is a huge importance in finding these causing factors and learning from them. It’s all to easy to put the fire out and go back to work as normal. Never let a crisis go to waste, take the opportunity to learn from it.