Monday, October 11, 2010


Nothing like an unexpected fire alarm at the South Pole to get everyone's adrenaline pumping.  At about 9 am this morning we had an alarm of a fire in Summer Camp (the group of  structures that we are bringing on-line for summer occupancy).  This was no drill and all the ERT teams mustered.  Summer Camp is about 200 yards from the Main Station, so that meant ECW gear for everyone before we could head out there.

I learned a good lessen - always have your ECW in one place.  Some of mine was in my room and some in my office.  By the time I had run to get it all together I was exhausted and dizzy (altitude here is 11,100 feet today) and had to rest before I could even start to put it on.  There was no option on the ECW - the wind chill outside is currently -101F with a 15 mph wind.  No short-cuts in ECW could be taken.

After I got my ECW on and headed toward the DZ doors to go to the Jamesways it was announced over the emergency response radio that the fire alarm had probably been set off by the portable heaters that were being used to warm the Jamesways.  Their exhaust plume had gotten into Jamesway 13 and set off its alarms. This news put everyone into lower gear and took the pressure off all the emergency response teams (and me).  I hung around in my ECW at the station exit with the fire-fighters while the false alarm was verified.

After about ten minutes we knew it was a false alarm and all the ERT teams were told to stand down.  That all took place about 30 minutes ago and my adrenaline still hasn't dropped to normal.


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