Apart from the expeditioners, the main power house is the life line of the station with four generators that supply power and heat to the station buildings. The heat energy that is produced by the engines is captured through water heat exchange units and then circulated around the station via a complex site services system. The pipe and cable system is all above ground and often in the winter months will be buried under snow. The hot water enters each building passing through a heat exchange unit before circulating back to the main power house to be reheated and start the cycle over: this runs 24/7. The number of engines that are running at any given time is related to the power load required.
This week at Davis: 26 April 2013
Main power house
Domestic water for drinking and fire suppression at Davis is produced during the summer months only by reverse osmosis with water drawn for a small tarn. The water is then stored in two 600,000 litre external tanks which are kept warm utilising the hot water produced from the power house via the site service network. In conjunction with the two external tanks there are also four smaller tanks inside the tank house building. Water is transferred from the external tanks to the internal tanks as required during the winter. The domestic drinking water is then continually circulated around the site service network to each building where water is drawn as required. It is important for the water to circulate continuously as this prevents it from freezing.
We have several trades teams as well as science on station and they have the important task of keeping the entire infrastructure operational all year round in what can be at times very ordinary weather conditions. The main workshop building is occupied by the carpenters, plumbers, electricians and the mechanics. All the workshops are well equipped with tools and spare parts. The spare parts are delivered once a year at resupply. As it is almost impossible to have spare parts for all our equipment (although we try), we have the machinery on station to manufacture our own part if required.
Emergency vehicle shelter
The station has its own emergency vehicle building a bit like the local fire station. In this building, we keep the station designated fire Hägglunds which is a tracked over snow vehicle kitted out for a fire situation on station. Expeditioners receive fire and breathing apparatus (BA) training prior to coming south at the TAS Fire training facility.
There are also two designated quad bikes that are kitted up with search and rescue equipment ready for deployment into the field in the case of a search and rescue (SAR) situation. SAR training is provided in Kingston, Tasmania during pre-departure as well as on the Aurora Australis during the voyage south. All field training is then combined with specialised SAR training in Antarctica and a SAR team formed.