Fire prevention

Mawson powerhouse on fire
Mawson powerhouse on fire in 1959 (Photo: J. Bechervaise)
Expeditioners with Hagglunds vehicle in the snowDavis Fire Team with Fire Hagglund

Fire is a constant threat on Antarctic stations. The dry atmospheric conditions, the isolation and lack of alternative facilities make expeditioners especially vulnerable.

A specially trained fire team, the leader of which is known as Station Fire Chief, is chosen for each station. The fire team is trained prior to departure in fire fighting techniques and the use of breathing apparatus. In all circumstances, when the station fire chief is absent from station, a deputy fire officer must be appointed.

All expeditioners undergo regular fire drill training throughout the year. At the sound of a fire alarm in any building, all people not on the emergency response team muster at a designated area in the living quarters. If the fire is in this location, then there are secondary muster points at the emergency vehicle shelter or main store.

Each station has its own set of fire orders to be followed by all in the event of an alarm.

All facilities are well equipped with fire extinguishers and hydrants, and on the continental stations, a dedicated fire vehicle remains on permanent standby. Fire equipment on station is checked regularly, and special tanks for fire fighting water, which makes up two thirds of the water available on station, are kept heated and ready to be used at all times. All stations have clothing, tents and food rations in separate buildings for emergencies.

This page was last modified on 12 August 2010.