Friday, September 29, 2023

Are there firefighters in Antarctica?

Antarctica is the coldest, driest and windiest continent on Earth, with truly challenging and potentially dangerous weather conditions. There are about 1,000 people who live in this cold place during the winter; a little more in the summer, a few thousand people, though. And, despite the harsh environment, there are 66 bases in the Antarctic where scientists come and go – usually their stay is about a year. After all, there are seven permanent bases.

Although there are few people, compared to anywhere else in the world, the risk of fire is still a real concern, so yes, there are firefighters (or people trained to carry out their duties). The most sensitive areas are, precisely, the research stations operated by countries around the world consisting of laboratories, housing and other facilities necessary for long-term research projects.

A little history

Fire is one of the biggest threats in Antarctica, because weather conditions, together with isolation and the impossibility of rescue for weeks or months, show that fire is more dangerous here than anywhere else in the world. Since Antarctica is a harsh environment and is far from any possibility of aid or rescue, the possibility of a fire destroying one of the many stations could bring great danger to its inhabitants.

Firefighting efforts in Antarctica have been going on since the establishment of the first research stations in the early 20th century. But not before the first fire during the British Antarctic Expedition in 1898-1900 led by Carsten E. Borchgrevink, who accidentally set his mattress on fire with a candle during the winter and almost burned down the cabin. It would be a disaster if the cabin caught fire.

As the number of stations and the complexity of the infrastructure increases, the need for effective firefighting measures also increases. An incident in the history of fire bombing in Antarctica should also be highlighted. It happened in 1984 when a fire broke out at the Almirante Brown Argentine Antarctic Base. The base doctor challenged it and destroyed most of the station’s buildings, prompting a review of firefighting strategies on the Antarctic continent.

Since then, there have been many efforts to improve firefighting capabilities in Antarctica, including the development of new techniques and equipment to control potentially challenging fire conditions in this extreme environment.

How do you put out a fire in extreme cold conditions?

In this environment, water freezes quickly, making traditional firefighting methods less effective. Firefighters must adapt their techniques and equipment to cope with Antarctic conditions. So, for example, foam is used instead of water because it freezes less and effectively extinguishes fires. The foam is particularly useful for fighting fires in areas where flammable liquids are stored, which are common at Antarctic research stations. Likewise, dry chemical extinguishers are also used, which work by stopping the chemical reaction that occurs during a fire, successfully extinguishing the fire.

Because of the danger of fire ravaging remote Antarctic research stations, many are equipped with fire suppression systems to quickly control fires and limit their spread.

And how many firefighters are there in Antarctica?

The number of fireflies in Antarctica varies depending on the research station and the size of the population during the year. Most stations have a small team of dedicated firefighters or personnel trained in firefighting techniques. These individuals are responsible for maintaining firefighting equipment, conducting drills, and responding to any emergencies that may arise. In either case, firefighters in Antarctica must wear special PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) designed to protect them from extremely cold temperatures while allowing them to perform their duties effectively.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
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