Cleaning up after ourselves

Jan. 1, 2002
We need to be proactive in removing old or unused cable from the plenum

We need to be proactive in removing old or unused cable from the plenum.

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Hanging on my kitchen wall is an excerpt from the book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. As its name suggests, the book says that no matter how complicated our lives appear at times, the answers lie in a handful of timeless tenets that most of us learned before we were six years old.

Author Robert Fulghum started the book as some going-away-to-college advice for his son. Once he got rolling, he couldn't stop. Examples of the wisdom in the book include, "Don't take things that aren't yours," and "Put things back where you found them."

I wouldn't bring it up if I couldn't apply it to this industry, so here goes. One of the kindergarten rules that the cabling industry could remember a little better is, "Clean up your own mess." I am referring here to the growing problem of abandoned-in-place cable that affects a great number of end-user organizations. The problem has been mentioned in this publication several times.

In the spirit of Mr. Fulghum's simplicity, the problem has arisen this way: Lots of users put lots of cable into their plenum spaces; then when those cables became obsolete, it was more convenient to leave them up there than it was to take them down and get rid of them. Need some new cable? It will fit up there; you don't have to take the old stuff down. One short decade of this attitude brought a problem to our doorstep, and a couple more years of the same attitude have put some end users in an unenviable position.

One factor that may have exacerbated the problem is that users have been sold for some time on the idea that CMP-rated cable is fire-safe. But now, even providers of CMP-rated cable are going on record commenting about the increase in a building's fire load resulting from the cables in plenum spaces.

So, we have not cleaned up after ourselves, as Robert Fulghum urges us to. But we can do something about it. Contractors can offer to remove unused cable as part of their value-add services. Likewise, end-user organizations can mandate such removal as part of their next installation project. In this economic environment, I would be surprised if that stipulation chases away any bidding contractors.

While I don't remember learning about pathways and spaces, eight-pin modular plug termination, or proper cable-labeling techniques in kindergarten, I think we could all benefit from revisiting some of what we did learn way back then. And if we end up cleaning up somebody else's mess in addition to our own, how are we any worse off for that?

Patrick McLaughlin is Chief Editor of Cabling Installation & Maintenance.

Warmke steps aside as BICSI's executive director

Jay Warmke, executive director of BICSI ( for the past 10 years, has resigned his position within the organization. "I asked the board not to renew my contract," he said in an interview with Cabling Installation & Maintenance magazine. But Warmke has no plans to leave the organization. Rather, his intention is to take a different, yet-to-be-created position within BICSI, in which he can concentrate his efforts solely on the organization's efforts in Europe.

As this issue was going to press, BICSI's board of directors approved the appointment of Al Feaster as new executive director. Most recently, Feaster has served as BICSI's Region 3 director.

The new administration within BICSI will have to approve the new position, and hire Warmke into it, before he begins his European-specific duties. Warmke said he does not anticipate any problems gaining such approval.

Warmke said he expects to officially step down sometime this month, perhaps around the time of BICSI's Winter Conference, which will be held January 21-24. He said he expects to spend a couple months at BICSI's Tampa, FL headquarters, seeing Feaster through a transition period before establishing a residence near Paris, France to begin his new job.

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