US 3831991 A
An apparatus for maintaining ready availability of a lifter tool adapted to lift flat floor panels to expose a fire therebeneath, the apparatus consisting of a flat mounting plate adapted for securement to a wall or other vertically extending surface, a clip bracket centrally secured on said plate, and a lifter tool having a pair of spaced lifter elements occupying substantially the same plane, and interconnected by a bridging handle member frictionally engaged by the bracket in a position to face the lifter elements toward the plate. The invention further includes the described apparatus in combination with a room including a vertical wall upon which said apparatus is mounted by securement of the mounting plate thereto, a fire extinguisher exposed on said wall adjacent said apparatus, and a floor in the room comprising a plurality of flat panels supported above a sub-floor to define therewith a space containing electrical cables connected to a computer disposed in the room.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
ll'nite llsulrernan ates Patent 1 APPARATUS AND SYSTEM FOR EARNING ACCESS T0 CONFLAGRATTONS 21 Appl. No.: 322,953
 US. Cl 294/64 R, 211/89, 248/313,
248/316 B  llnt. Cl. A471 7/00  Field 011 Search 294/1 R, 64 R, 65;
169/1 R, l A; 211/71, 75, 87, 89; 248/154, 218, 226 C, 226 E, 305, 312, 313, 362, 363, 316 B,316D,316R
Primary Examiner-Richard A. Schacher Assistant Examiner 1ohnny D. Cherry Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Dunlap, Laney, Hessin, Dougherty & Codding  ABSTRACT An apparatus for maintaining ready availability of a lifter tool adapted to lift flat floor panels to expose a tire therebeneath, the apparatus consisting of a flat mounting plate adapted for securement to a wall or other vertically extending surface, a clip bracket centrally secured on said plate, and a lifter tool having a pair of spaced lifter elements occupying substantially the same plane, and interconnected by a bridging handle member frictionally engaged by the bracket in a position to face the lifter elements toward the plate. The invention further includes the described apparatus in combination with a room including a vertical wall upon which said apparatus is mounted by securement of the mounting plate thereto, a fire extinguisher exposed on said wall adjacent said apparatus, and a floor in the room comprising a plurality of flat panels supported above a sub-floor to define therewith a space containing electrical cables connected to a computer disposed in the room.
5 Claims, 4 Drawing Figures APPARATUS AND SYSTEM FOR GAIG ACCESS TO CONIFLAGTIONS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates to safety apparatus and devices, and more particularly, to apparatus for gaining rapid access to a fire or conflagration beneath the floor in rooms having a floor with sub-flooring disposed therebelow, and defining therebetween a space for the accommodation of electrical power cables and signal cables.
2. Brief Description of the Prior Art It has, in recent years, become the practice to construct chambers or rooms containing massive and extensive computer equipment so that the heavy electri cal cables providing electric power and signals for the computer equipment are disposed beneath the floor and above a sub-floor. The floor is constructed, in many instances, of a plurality of large, heavy flooring panels which are supported upon thin channels or pedestals forming a network. The electrical cables provided for supplying power to the computer in this manner often become heated and generate a substantial amount of heat, and consequently it is sometimes a practice to provide air conditioning in the void or space between the floor and sub-floor where the electrical cables are accommodated. It has also been the practice to provide, within or near the computer room, a vacuum type lifter device having one or a plurality of flexible suction cups which can be used to engage the flat upper surface of the flooring panels, and lift them upwardly in the event a fire develops in the space between the floor and sub-floor as a result of over heating of the electrical cables. The vacuum type lifter tool, of course, is generally provided with a handle, and is the only rapid means of removing the flooring panels to gain access to the space therebelow.
A problem which has been encountered in systems of the type described is the theft, loss or misplacement of the vacuum type lifter tool. Thus, frustrating delays are sometimes encountered when it is desired to inspect or repair the electrical components beneath the floor. More importantly, an extremely dangerous situation is, of course, confronted at any time that a fire breaks out in the space between the floor and the sub-floor if the lifter tool cannot be readily located and placed in use at such times. Frequently, these tools are stored in a drawer, and their precise location is known to only a few personnel. At other times, since such tools have other usages than that for which they are provided in the computer rooms, they are the subject of theft, thus rendering them totally inaccessible in time of need.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION The present invention alleviates the problem of lost or missing lifter tools. Moreover, the invention suggests or implies, for novice personnel, the use for which the tool is intended, and locates the tool in close proximity to other equipment commonly used in fighting and extinguishing fires after access to the situs of the blaze or heat has been gained. Moreover, the present invention does not merely assure ready availability of the lifter tools described, but protects them from commonlyoccurring damage which results from improper storage in which they are rested upon one or all of the lifter elements forming a part of such tools.
Broadly described, the present invention comprises a mounting plate adapted for securement to a vertically extending surface; a horizontally projecting bracket secured to the mounting plate, and including a bifurcated clip having divergent ends forming an opening to a throat; and a lifter tool detachably secured to the bracket. The vacuum type lifter tool constituting a preferred embodiment of the invention includes a pair of flexible suction cups positioned for concurrently engaging and gripping a substantially monoplanar surface, and having concave suction surfaces facing toward the mounting plate; and a rigid handle extending between and interconnecting the suction cups, and having a central portion frictionally engaged by the throat of the bifurcated clip. The suction cups of the vacuum type lifter tool are oriented to be protected by the shielding position of the plate located on one side of the cups, and are protected by the rigid handle of the lifter tool disposed on the other side of the cups.
In another aspect, the present invention is an improved computer room system comprising a floor having a plurality of substantially flat floor panels collectively forming a major portion of the floor; means movably supporting the floor panels in a horizontal, coplanar relation to each other for vertical movement upon lifting; a subfloor spaced vertically downwardly from the floor and defining an intervening space therewith; and a vertically extending structural surface projecting upwardly from the floor. A fire extinguisher is detachably supported on the vertically extending structural surface, as is a flat mounting plate which is secured to the vertically extending structural surface at a location adjacent the fire extinguisher. Means is provided on the mounting plate for detachably engaging the handle of a lifter tool for the panels. A lifter tool is provided, and includes a handle detachably engaged by the engaging means on the mounting plate, and further includes at least one lifter element, such as a suction cup, mounted on this handle. At least one computer is supported on a portion of the floor of the room, and electrical cables extend through the described space to the computer for supplying electrical power to the computer. The system as thus described affords greater protection against the development of a conflagration in the space between the floor and the subfloor in the event of over heating of the electrical cables which are located there. The arrangement further assures that all equipment necessary for gaining access to, and fighting a fire in such space, will be readily available and in plain sight, and can be easily and quickly obtained.
It is an object of the invention to provide an apparatus for making accessible, and storing, a lifter tool of the sort used to lift large, heavy fiat. panels forming portions of a floor in a computer room.
The further object of the invention is to provide an apparatus, by means of which a vacuum type lifter tool can be stored in such a way that it is constantly protected against damage to the suction cups thereof, yet is readily available and easily located in time of need.
A further object of the invention is to provide a computer room system in which fire extinguishing apparatus is located in close proximity to apparatus employed to gain access to the most likely point of development of a fire, and both the extinguishing equipment and access gaining equipment can be quickly obtained and put into use.
Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention when such description is considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a plan view of apparatus constructed in accordance with the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a side elevation view of the apparatus depicted in FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a sectional view taken along line 33 of FIG. 2.
FIG. 4 is an isometric view of a system of the present invention, including as a portion of the overall system combination, the apparatus depicted in FIG. I.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION Referring initially to FIGS. 1-3 of the drawings, shown therein is an apparatus constructed in accordance with the present invention. The apparatus 10 includes a flat mounting plate 12 having a plurality of holes or apertures 14 formed therethrough to permit the mounting plate to be secured by screws or bolts to a wall or vertical surface.
Centrally located on the exposed major surface of the mounting plate 12 is a clip bracket, designated generally by reference numeral 16. The clip bracket 16 includes, as best illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3, a base pedestal 18 which is rigidly secured by any suitable means to the mounting plate 12, and which projects substantially normal to the mounting plate. The clip bracket 16 further includes a pair of spring metal clip arms 20 and 22 pivotally mounted on the base pedestal l8 and urged together by a spring 24. At their outer ends, the clip arms 20 and 22 are bent so that the end portions diverge from each other. The clip arms are further angled so as to form an open throat 26 just inside the divergent ends.
The apparatus of the invention further includes a vacuum type lifter tool designated generally by reference numeral 34. Tools of this type are commercially available, and are generally constructed with one or more vacuum cups which may be forced against a flat or monoplanar surface by pressing down a handle attached to the suction cups. The handle is then used to lift a panel or plate carrying the flat surface engaged by the suction cups. Many of such vacuum type lifter tools have a trigger or release element which, when pulled, breaks the vacuum beneath the suction cups, and releases the plate or panel after it is lifted.
In FIGS. 1-3, one commercially available vacuum type lifter tool is shown, and this particular tool includes a handle 36 which is shaped to have a gripping portion 36a and a cup carrying portion 36b. A pair of suction cups 38 and 40 are mounted on the cup carrying portion 36b of the handle 36, and it will be perceived in referring to FIG. 2 that the handle 36 projects to locations such that the handle completely overlies the suction cups 38 and 40 on one side thereof. Stated differently, the handle 36 affords protection to the suction cups 38 and 40 from a blow or damaging impact being imparted to the cups from one side thereof. The cup carrying portion 36b of the handle 36 has a media] portion which extends between and spaces the cups 38 and 40. For the purpose of releasing the vacuum which is created within the hollow or concave interior of the suction cups 38 and 40 when they are pressed down against a flat surface, a vacuum breaking trigger 42 is provided on the vacuum type lifter tool 34, and functions in a manner well understood in the art to release the engagement of the suction cups 38 and 40 with a plate or panel after the plate or panel has been lifted by the use of the tool.
Referring further to FIGS. 2 and 3 of the drawings, it will be perceived that the lifter tool 34 is shown engaged by the clip bracket I6. This engagement results from the grip on the cup carrying portion 36b of the handle 36 by the spring arms 20 and 22 of the clip bracket 16. It will be noted in FIG. 3 that the cup carrying portion 36b of the handle 36 has been pressed down between these arms into the throat 26 just inside the divergent ends of the arms 20 and 22. It will further be noted in referring to this figure that the cup carrying portion 36b of the handle 36 is configured to have a relatively narrow, tapered lower edge portion which faces downwardly toward the suction cups 38 and 40, and that it is this portion of the handle which is pressed against the contacting end portions of the spring arms 20 and 22 in order to force the cup carrying portion 36b between these spring arms, and into the throat 26 defined therebetween. It will also be perceived that the particular cross-sectional configuration of the cup carrying portion 36b of the handle 36 is such that the relatively narrow side edges of the oval shaped central section of this portion of the handle fits into the throat defining angulations formed in the spring arms 20 and 22, and the result is that the lifter tool is engaged so that it does not rotate or shift about a horizontal axis extending coaxially through the cup carrying portion 36b of the handle 36.
The effect of the described engagement of the lifter tool 34 by the clip bracket 16 is to maintain the lifter tool in a particular and specific position with respect to the mounting plate 12 as illustrated in FIGS. 1-3. It will be seen that the mounting plate 12 has a considerably larger major surface area than the total projected area of the lifter tool 34 (projected into the plane of this major surface), with the result that the suction cups 38 and 40 are completely protected from any type of contact by moving objects moving directly toward the suction cups 38 and 40 from the side thereof upon which the mounting plate 12 is located. Thus, the relatively thin edges of the suction cups 38 and 40 are protected from damage, as well as the concave interior of the cups. A problem which has previously existed in the storage or non-operating disposition of lifter tools of the type described is that the tools will often be inadvertently rested upon a supporting surface in such a way that the elastomeric material of which the suction cups 38 and 40 are conventionally fabricated will be distorted or split so that the cups will not function properly when it is later attempted to use the tool for lifting purposes. The mounting arrangement afforded by the present invention avoids this problem.
In summary, the apparatus depicted in FIGS. l3 facilitates the semi-permanent location of the vacuum type lifter tool in an exposed, constantly visible location. Very importantly, when stored and located on a vertical surface through the use of the mounting plate 12 and Clip bracket 16, the lifter tool 34 is protected,
and the operability of the elastomeric suction cups 38 and 40 is maintained at all times, for the cups are well protected from distortion or damage resulting from contact with inadvertently thrown or moved objects. Moreover, the construction of the clip bracket 16 assures that the vacuum tool will not be pivoted or swung to a position such that the suction cups are exposed, or the tool inadvertently dropped on the floor and damaged.
One of the important advantages of the present invention is the provision of apparatus which assures continuing availability of the vacuum type lifter tool 34 for use in gaining rapid access to the location of a fire which has broken out beneath the flooring of a computer room. It is a widespread current practice to construct the floors of such rooms from a plurality of heavy panels which are fitted together to form the floor in such a way that the upper surfaces of the panels are in flush, coplanar alignment. There is no projection or protuberance from any of the panels which facilitates the lifting of the panels by grasping such projection or protuberance and pulling upwardly. It is further a common practice in the current construction of rooms containing computer equipment to locate all of the electrical cables supplying electrical power and signals to the computer in a space provided beneath the floor and above a sub-floor of the room.
The present invention provides a new system of construction of interior spaces for the location and operation of computer equipment which is characterized in enhanced safety in usage, and which is better outfitted and arranged for the quick extinguishment of any fire which may start in the space beneath the flooring in such room. Moreover, for the purpose of maintenance and repair of the electrical supply system, ready access may be had to the space beneath the floor using the system of the present invention, and the invention further assures that the vacuum type lifter tool employed for gaining access to the space beneath the floor will be operative at any time when it is needed, and will not malfunction due to splitting or other damage to the suction cups as a result of the tool being laid upon its side on top of a desk or in a drawer for purposes of storage. Finally, the possibilities of theft of the vacuum type lifter tool are greatly reduced, since the tool is located in a clearly visible, always accessible location where personnel working in the computer room will be instantly apprised of the fact that the tool is missing from its customary location, and will generally be able to observe the removal of the tool by any person for either authorized or unauthorized usage.
The system of the present invention is depicted in FIG. 4 of the drawings. Here a computer room is illustrated and includes vertical walls 42 and 44 which extend upwardly from the floor, designated generally by reference numeral 46. The floor 46 is constructed of a plurality of large, heavy panels 48 which are supported on channels (not shown), or any other suitable structure, to provide, collectively, a substantially monoplanar upper floor surface having no protuberances or other upwardly extending structures formed thereon. Beneath the floor 46 is located a sub-floor 50 and a space 52 is defined between the floor 46 and the subfloor. In the space 52 are located the electrical cables 56 which carry the electrical power to a computer 58 disposed within the room. The computer 58, of course, rests upon the floor 46. As is conventional construction at the present time, each of the panels 48 can be lifted upwardly from the position shown in FIG. 4 to provide access to the space 52 between the floor 46 and the sub-floor 50.
Affixed to the wall 42 at a location thereon which is approximately equal in height to the level of the eye of persons standing while working in the computer room is the apparatus 10 depicted in FIGS. 1-3 of the drawings. The mounting plate 12 has been secured flatly against the wall 42 by means of screws or bolts. Thus, the handle 36 of the vacuum type .lifter tool 34 projects outwardly from the wall in a direction substantially normal thereto, and can be quickly and easily grasped by personnel within the room.
Spaced downwardly from the apparatus 10 on the wall 42 is a fire extinguisher 60. The brackets provided for hanging or suspending a fire extinguisher of the type shown on a wall or other vertical surface are well known in the art, and do not form a part of the present invention. It will be noted, however, in referring to FIG. 4, that the apparatus 10 of the present invention is disposed immediately over the fire extinguisher 60, and that one person can easily grasp the lifter tool 34 in one hand to remove it from the clip bracket 16, while concurrently grasping the heavy fire extinguisher 60 in the other hand and removing it from the mounting upon the wall 42. Thus, extremely valuable seconds are saved in getting the necessary equipment to a location over the floor 46 where access is needed to the space 52 to combat a fire which has broken out in this space as a result of overheating of the electrical cables supplying the computer 58. The relatively small and light character of the lifter tool 34 might allow personnel to lay this tool down after its use is completed, and forget to return it to its storage location, were nothing more than such' return involved. The fact that the heavy fire extinguisher 60 will usually always be returned to its location on the wall 42, however, will assure that visual perception of the absence of the lifter tool 34 will occur at the time of return of the fire extinguisher, and that the lifter tool will ultimately be returned to its proper storage location immediately above the fire extinguisher.
Although certain preferred embodiments of the invention have been herein described in order to illustrate the invention and the manner of its usage, it will be understood that various changes and innovations in the described structures can be effected without departure from the basic principles which underlie the invention. For example, other forms of lifter tools for lifting heavy panels or metal plates are currently available on the market, and some of these involve different configurations of handles, and from one "to four suction cups or other lifter elements. The principles which have been described in the preceding specification are applicable to the location and storage of such lifter tools, however, with minor modifications being necessary, in such instances, to the size of the mounting plate which is employed, and in the details of construction of the clip bracket used to mount or support the lifter tool.
In like manner, although the apparatus 10 and fire extinguisher 60 have been disclosed in the foregoing description as being mounted upon the exposed interior surface of a wall, it will be apparent that these subassemblies of the described system could also be mounted upon a vertical column within the computer room, provided only that their orientation in relation to each other, and in relation to the paneled floor is retained.
Innovations or structural modifications of the type described, in remaining dependent upon the basic principles of the present invention, are considered to be circumscribed by the spirit and scope of the invention. The invention is thus considered to comprehend and include such other embodiments and modifications, except as such variant structures may necessarily be excluded from the scope of the invention by the language of the appended claims, or reasonable equivalents thereof.
What is claimed is:
1. Apparatus for gaining access to conflagrations comprising:
a mounting plate having a monoplanar surface and adapted for securement to a vertically extending surface, with the mounting plate positioned with said monoplanar surface extending substantially parallel to said vertically extending surface;
a bracket secured to the monoplanar surface of the mounting plate and projecting outwardly therefrom in a direction substantially normal to said monoplanar surface, said bracket including a pair of cooperating arms; and
a vacuum type lifter tool including:
at least one suction cup; and a handle connected to said suction cup and releasably engaged by said cooperating arms to orient each of said suction cups between said mounting plate and handle with the open sides of the suction cups facing toward the monoplanar surface of said mounting plate whereby said suction cups are shielded and protected, each of said suction cups having a peripheral edge lying in a plane extending parallel to said monoplanar surface.
2. Apparatus as defined in claim 1 wherein said bracket further comprises means resiliently biasing said arms toward each other; and
wherein said arms define therebetween, a throat, said throat surrounding and releasably engaging said handle of said lifter tool, and said throat and handle being of complementary angular shape to prevent rotation of said handle in said throat, said handle extending parallel to said monoplanar surface of the mounting plate when positioned in said throat and engaged by said cooperating arms.
3. Apparatus as defined in claim 2 wherein said cooperating arms are spring metal arms having divergent ends immediately adjacent said throat and defining a restricted entrance to said throat;
and wherein said handle comprises:
a gripping portion; and
a cup carrying portion carrying said suction cups and configured for keyed engagement with said throat to retain said cup carrying portion against rotation, and to face said suction cups toward said mounting plate in a protected orientation relative thereto.
4. Apparatus as defined in claim 3 wherein said suction cups are located between said cup carrying portion of said handle and said mounting plate for protection to said cups.
5. Apparatus for gaining access to conflagrations comprising:
a mounting plate having a monoplanar surface and adapted for securement to a vertically extending surface with the mounting plate positioned on the vertically extending surface with the monoplanar surface of the mounting plate extending parallel to the vertically extending surface; clip bracket secured to the monoplanar surface of the mounting plate and projecting outwardly therefrom in a direction normal to the monoplanar surface of the mounting plate, said clip bracket including a pair of cooperating arms, said arms defining a throat therebetween;
a panel lifting tool including:
a handle releasably engaged by said arms and extending substantially parallel to said monoplanar surface; and
panel engaging means carried by said handle adjacent one end thereof and located, during the engagement of said handle by said arm means with the handle positioned in said throat, between said mounting plate and said handle whereby said panel engaging means is shielded and protected.