This week at Davis: 13 March 2020

Who do you call when there's a fire emergency in Antarctica?! The Fire Team of course!!

Firefighting skills at the forefront of emergency response preparation

Antarctic stations are paragons of self-reliance. This applies most obviously to the station Emergency Response Team, or ERT, a motley bunch of keen expeditioners ready to jump into action when required!!

The most fearless and highly skilled section within the ERT are the three Fire Teams, made up of hardy expeditioners, educated in trades and university degrees before being moulded into the kind of fire-fighting mettle Stephen "Bull" McAffrey of Backdraft fame is synonymous with.

Before the wintering expeditioners head south, they spend four taxing days with the Tasmania Fire Service in Hobart, learning all the necessary components of structural and vehicle fire-fighting. No one leaves without facing their own fears at some point, be it claustrophobia or hot or smoky environments. When the training is complete, the sense of personal growth is palpable among the group.

During this training the expeditioners are taught how to correctly wear a breathing apparatus (BA) set, conduct building search techniques and correct fire-fighting procedures. 

Whilst down on the ice, the Fire Teams conduct monthly fire training to maintain their high level of preparedness and skill should a fire emergency eventuate.

Over summer this can be a pleasant task, however winter brings with it new challenges. With the temperatures getting down to -30 degrees Celsius, the crew are ever aware of the challenges they face, such as frozen hoses, ice-rink slick ground, hypothermia and frostbite.

But as always, each Fire Team perseveres knowing that the winter would become far less pleasant with the absence of a key building or services following an emergency situation!

Chef Donna dressed in firefighting attire extinguishes a blazing car at fire training
Chef Donna shows no fear as she extinguishes a blazing 'Hagglunds'!
(Photo: Patrick James)
A breathing apparatus board displaying a list of those on breathing apparatus and their rate of air usage
Newly-minted winterer Rach expertly monitors BA air usage during fire training
(Photo: Rachel McInerney)
Two Fire Team members practice a door entry firefighting technique
Practicing door entry techniques while using a breathing apparatus!
(Photo: Rhys Harding)
A group dressed in firefighting gear pose in front of the fire Hagglunds
Fire Team #1 after a successful training drill!
(Photo: Rhys Harding)
a man dressed in fire gear at the rear of the fire Hagglunds working the pipes
Dieso Steve transforms into Fire Chief Steve when there's hose to run!
(Photo: Rhys Harding)
The summer fire team personnel pose outside the red emergency vehicle shelter
Intrepidness personified
(Photo: Rhys Harding)