Fires on the ice 'a new dimension'

16:00, Oct 05 2012
Bob Mortimer
FIRE ON THE ICE: Timaru fire service training officer Bob Mortimer will travel to Antarctica on Monday to provide training to people working over there.

Antarctica's freezing temperatures will add a new dimension to fire safety training for one of Timaru's fire officers next week.

Fire service training officer Bob Mortimer will touch down in Antarctica on Monday on board a C17 Globemaster.

The aircraft, which is one of the largest in the world, made headlines this week when it touched down at Christchurch Airport, marking the start of its summer Antarctic programme.

Mr Mortimer and one other trainer will travel with 25 of the summer crew members who they have already started teaching fire safety. Part of the training includes understanding fire behaviour, aircraft fire fighting, apparatus use and how to handle hazardous substances.

Mr Mortimer will spend next week reinforcing what he has already taught the crew, while also checking fire safety procedures and equipment at Scott Base, including heat, smoke and sprinkler systems.

Although fires are rare in Antarctica, the dry conditions meant there was a risk they could occur. "It's a very dry humidity. Fires can burn very quick, obviously that's a concern for staff down there."

Mr Mortimer, who has been in the fire service for 40 years, has been to the Arctic before, but it will be his first visit to Antarctica.

He said was looking forward to the experience, despite the predicted -22 degrees Celsius the crew will arrive to. "It's obviously going to be cold, but that's all part of the experience."


The Timaru Herald