A consequence of being at a remote Antarctic Base is that one does not have the option of calling 000 for emergency services. The expeditioners wintering at all Australian Antarctic bases become the emergency response. Fire is one of the biggest threats on an Antarctic Base so Fire Prevention is of major concern.
As a result we attended a extensive 5 day training course at the Tasmanian Fire Service training facility at Cambridge (near Hobart Airport).
One of the initial parts of the training was in the use and identification of the different fire extinguishers.
We also learnt how to safely handle a big fire hose… The nozzle at the end of the hose is called a branch where the water flow rate and spray pattern are controlled.
On each of Australia’s Antarctic stations there is a roster of the weekly fire team on call. A fire team consists of 6 expeditioners – Fire Chief, BA1, BA2, BA3, BA4 and BA Controller. The BA controller has a clip board and a timer – They check that the BA is fitted coreectly and they write down how much air each of the BA cylinders has and a time when that is expected to run to a safe low level. They also take the alarm key from the alarms on the BA set. The BA controller usually is also the pump operator.
We learnt many techniques of hoe to control or extinguish fires. This depends on the type of fire, the material or fuel that is burning. The primary concern is the safety of the Fire fighters and rescuers.
It was a intense but very rewarding and informative week of training.
The final part of our training took place a few days before departing for the south. This was basic Search and Rescue (SAR). Again the reality is that we can’t call on anyone but ourselves in the case of an emergency.
In bushland behind the Antarctic Division in Kingston we became familiar with some of the equipment that we will have in our SAR kit. We were also shown how to use this equipment as a precursor to further intensive training when we reach the Antarctic continent.
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The next post will be about the voyage through he Southern Ocean.