Fire guides? Be rigorous when human lives are involved.

Subject: Fire guides? Be rigorous when human lives are involved.
From: "Geoff Hart (by way of \"Eric J. Ray\" <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>)" <ght -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 10:15:03 -0700

David Dick is <<...writing a user guide that describes how a building
is set-up with fire extinguishing equipment, how it works,
installation, etc. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to
structure such a document?>>

Well, my first thought is that you really, really don't want to
produce the guide on paper or anything else flammable... <gdr>

Seriously though, on the whole, I don't see any need to create
something much different from your typical user guide for hardware or
software. Start with an analysis of the needs of the product's users,
and structure your document around the results of the analysis.

The main exception is that human lives will depend on the success of
the installation and (very important!) subsequent maintenance, so
you'll have to be RIGOROUS in getting the technical reviews done
right. It might even be worthwhile talking to your local fire
department's safety inspector to get feedback from a professional
who has to live with the consequences of such guides and who can
provide a list of criticisms of other company's guides. Similarly, be
rigorous about identifying ways to troubleshoot the system (both
immediately after installation and as part of ongoing maintenance);
you're probably going to save lives as a result of the extra effort.
After all, nobody really cares if Word crashes yet again, but if
there's a fire...
--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Patience comes to those who wait."--Anon.


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