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Provident management

People in a Lift

In a small town called Mixenden near Halifax there used to be a data storage and processing centre with a large mainframe computer programmed by punched cards. This centre was a high security site as the data being processed was credit checks for banks, building societies and other lenders offering mortgages, and credit facilities, the security system was top notch for the site and it was an interesting place to work whilst installing updates. Watching the skilled programmers punching the cards to program the computer for a task was fascinating.

The main offices for the company were in an eleven-storey building in the centre of Bradford. The company employed Chubb to install the latest intruder alarm, fire alarm and access control system.

In a small town called Mixenden near Halifax there used to be a data storage and processing centre with a large mainframe computer programmed by punched cards. 

This centre was a high security site as the data being processed was credit checks for banks, building societies and other lenders offering mortgages, and credit facilities, the security system was top notch for the site and it was an interesting place to work whilst installing updates. Watching the skilled programmers punching the cards to program the computer for a task was fascinating.

The main offices for the company were in an eleven-storey building in the centre of Bradford. The company employed Chubb to install the latest state of the art intruder alarm, fire alarm and access control system.

I turned up one Monday morning to meet with Peter and Martin to install the intruder alarm, half way through the morning, supervisors from Chubb Fire (a separate entity to Chubb Alarms) arrived and asked if they could borrow an office in the building. It transpired that Chubb Fire had advertised for fire engineers to come to the building for an interview with the prospect of work starting immediately with the installation in the same building. 

As prospective employees for Chubb Fire started to arrive and request where they should go for the job interview at the company's reception, it became apparent to management what was happening, they walked into the office mid interview and threw the supervisors out of the building. Chubb Fire lost the contract for the fire alarm that same day.

The building was very well furnished and the type of employee it attracted was the city yuppies, they arrived in flashy cars, dressed in power suits or designer outfits with expensive haircuts, bags etc. It did not take long to realise that as lowly electrical engineers, we were not very welcome. On the second day we were barred from the company canteen and had to eat our lunch in the basement. 

On the fifth day we were barred from using the company lifts so had to use the staircase to access each floor as required. 

By the end of the second week, we were told we could not work anywhere in the offices during working hours meaning we had to work evenings and weekends to install the last few parts of the system, with one exception, we could continue to work in the basement. 

On that day, we all retired to the basement as there were a number of jobs to do there, whilst all three of us were standing on stepladders working, Martin kept farting very loudly, this was funny at first but after a while the funny side wore off and after a particularly long loud and smelly fart, Peter said to Martin “why don’t you give it a rest it’s not funny anymore”. 

Following the rebuke, every 20 minutes or so, Martin climbed down the stepladder, walked over to the lift we were no longer allowed to use and pressed the call button, when it arrived Martin stepped inside, farted and then stepped out, the doors closed and the lift returned to the office levels, no doubt called by one of the yuppies who worked above. We all rolled around on the floor in fits of laughter, and surprisingly the funny side of Martin’s farting returned in abundance and this time did not wear off.

Towards the end of the second week, sub-contractors employed by Chubb arrived to install the access control system which was to control doors from the lift/stair well to each floor. The solid oak doors required large electric locks to be cut into them and the building management team were concerned that the skill set of the access control engineers who were sub-contractors, were not up to the mark.

The building management team stopped the work as it was obvious to all that they had never installed locks before and were likely to cause damage to the doors. 

Martin  had been a joiner prior to becoming an alarm engineer, he and Clancy offered to work over the weekend to cut the locks into the twenty two doors as required, both had lock installation skills as all Chubb Alarm systems were set using a contacted five lever deadlock, hence every site had such a lock installed. 

The sub-contractors reported this back and management cleared the work, Martin and Clancy were asked to work the weekend and were shown which doors required locks installing and provided with a lock for templating. 

The following Monday it became apparent that the locks had been cut into the wrong doors, each set had an inner and outer pair of double doors, the inner pair should have been fitted with locks, however the supervisor had indicated the outer pairs to Martin and Clancy.

The building management team were to say the least not impressed with Chubb now and demanded that the correct doors be fitted with the locks and the doors cut in error would require professional restoration. 

Once again Martin and Clancy came to the rescue, this time they would start the work at 18:00 on Friday and work throughout the weekend to cut the locks into the correct doors, and restore the doors cut in error. 

Martin was responsible for restoration, on Monday the following week the transformation needed to be seen to be believed, Martin had let in solid oak to fill and cover the lock cut outs and had re polished the door edges, you had to look very closely indeed to tell that this had been done.

At the time, the secrecy and security surrounding the work in the building was top level, their decisions on people and companies credit worthiness was a secret. The service they provided was not known by the people and companies who were being credit checked for loans, mortgages etc. 

Ironically, things have come full circle with companies who provide credit checking services, now advertising on television and the internet to take control of your credit by knowing your credit score, these companies now act as credit brokers, providing information on the likelihood of a person being accepted for a credit card, loan or mortgage etc. which always seems to me to be a conflict of interests.