Everyday goings on in the ‘tankhouse'!
After breakfast, one of us (whoever is on call for the week) heads off to the ‘tankhouse’ where we collect and store all the freshwater for the station’s drinking water and fire systems.
The water we collect is as good as it gets: pure melted snow, pumped from our melt-lake behind the station. However, it doesn’t give in easily with temperatures outside averaging about minus 21°C this time of year, water turns to ice very quickly and is not so easy to pump!
This is where our little helper called “the melt bell” comes into play. This little guy was the invention of some clever polar plumbers some years ago and without it, we would have some problems keeping up the water supply to the station. It is submerged in the ice in the lake and is a hollow vessel that we pump heated water through at about 60°C. The bell heats the surrounding water (just above zero) and this then allows us to draw a small amount off each day as required.
As we collect the majority of our water over the summer, there is often plenty of water in the lake that is not frozen so this is when we fill up our main reserves for winter and our fire fighting water storage tanks.
The fire fighting system is located and maintained with our drinking water as the ‘tankhouse’ is a heated building so the water is always available if required.
We have two separate fire fighting systems: one is the electric pumps that are started manually if required in the event of a fire. These charge the water mains with a higher pressure needed for the hoses and hydrants around the station.
As a backup, we have a diesel powered pump that we can start if the power to the site is down.
Once the water storages are topped up, the plumbers also look after the spa, test the water, check the filtration systems and top up if required. It’s a popular place to thaw out after a day in the great outdoors here!
Plumbing other stuff
Once the daily tasks are completed, we then head back to the plant rooms in the various buildings where we continue with our yearly maintenance programs, servicing of plant and air conditioning systems, throughout the station. We also work on upgrades to installed plant and modifications if required.
Jamie Lowe, Building Services Supervisor and Plumber