Getting your hands dirty

A Plumber’s Craic

“Craic” (/kræk/krak) is a term for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation, particularly prominent in Ireland.

Here at Davis we've hit the 6-month mark (!) and have a great crew on station where everyone is keen and eager to chip in and help out with jobs they might not usually get to take on at home…including our station leader Simon Goninoninon-and-on. In recent weeks Simon has stuck his hand up offering assistance to anyone on station wanting to get his ‘help’ on the tools…“the dirtier the better” I believe the words were.  Challenge accepted. 

As the local neighbourhood plumbers, Dan and I suggested the monthly cleaning of the kitchen range hood might be an option….nothing too stressful.  However, when it was time to actually clean the range hood Simon was never to be seen (!) — or on some “extremely important” phone call. After some hassling and plenty of good banter Simon finally committed to help us poor plumbers out, even swapping around his slushy roster for it.

So, unfortunately for Simon, we weren’t cleaning the kitchen range hood this time…we were cleaning (drum roll)…the Kitchen Grease Arrestor (applause), which some say is worse than the Waste Water Treatment Plant — bestowing upon anyone who approaches a smell that will outlast religion…stops you picking your nose too.

Wearing our formal whites, we spent the day in the Living Quarters basement scraping filthy, nasty grease, servicing air diffusers and ensuring that it was a successful outcome overall. Oddly, Simon enjoyed himself — must have been the company! For us it was good to have an extra set of hands for the day, with plenty of laughs and chit-chat to be had.

I get a lot of questions from home asking what I actually do down here. So here it is, in short-ish, the daily roster for the plumbers…

Monitoring the paging system: The paging system looks at temperatures, pressures and any active system faults before sending a page as a text message to our mobile phone informing us of any potential problem so we can act on it quickly.

And…reading water meters in various buildings: With 9 meters to read everyday it is critical to carefully monitor our water consumption, given its high value as a limited resource. Leading into winter all our water is produced by reverse osmosis during an 8-week period as summer concludes. No more until the ship arrives in November.  A good reason why we restrict showers to an allowance of around 1min/day!

And…maintaining heating to buildings:  The buildings are heated by site services which includes a network of flow and return pipes that collect the excess heat from generators using heat exchange plates, plus a couple of burners chipping in to nudge up the temperatures for us.

Then…there are annual building checks that can take up to 2 days each. This can include fire damper checks in the duct work, testing 3-way modulating valves and checking various pumps….just to name a few.

Then…we have the other jobs that pop up, such as the monthly maintenance procedures, fire sprinkler alarm testing, cleaning the filters on the kitchen range hood (sans station leader), changing water filters, station incineration and waste management. After the ‘monthlies’ we might even tackle new installations like our new radiator heaters in the station social area.

But wait….in between all of the maintenance schedules and call-outs there is a training schedule for all the other hats I like to wear!  Lay Surgical Assistant, Fire Chief and TechSAR (Search & Rescue)….and a pretty keen photographer on the side. Busy, busy.

You can’t say I don’t have job diversity!  Never a dull moment and taking on a swag of new skills that no ordinary plumber could hope to even get close to.  Happy days.

Well that’s it for me. Brownie out.

Neil Brown (Plumber esq.)