Fred Durso

Antarctic research facility keeps fire safety at the forefront

Blog Post created by Fred Durso Employee on Aug 29, 2012

McMurdo Station
The McMurdo Station, a research outpost located in the southern part of Antarctica, made headlines this month after a U.S. expedition member suffered a medical emergency and was evacuted by a New Zealand medical team.

According to ABC News, the patient's condition was such that the medical team at McMurdo needed additional help, and the New Zealand team braved the harrowing flight to the bottom of the world, which is in the middle of a six-month winter season.

The story brings to mind a feature in NFPA Journal, which describes how fire safety concerns are taken very seriously at the facility. A number of NFPA codes and standards are used to safeguard the station, which includes (rather surprisingly) three bars, a barbarshop, a chapel, a fitness center, and a library.

Here's a snippet of the story, authored by Carol Fey:

Fire safety is a constant concern. Some of McMurdo’s  buildings date from the 1950s and are constructed of wood — they were  intended as temporary buildings, but have been modified to be permanent —  and are situated close together, creating the risk of fire spreading,  whipped by the relentless wind. All employees receive ongoing safety  training. At the station, all employees  are required to attend weekly safety meetings, where fire prevention and  extinguisher operation are often on the agenda. No open flame is permitted in any building, including  the chapel. Collection boxes are available at the beginning of each  season so that personnel can turn in any fire-related contraband.  Smoking is permitted only in designated, ventilated metal buildings. A  special permit is required for work such as welding.

Discover other interesting aspects of the McMurdo Station by reading the feature in NFPA Journal.

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