Friday, October 16, 2009

First Ice Runway Operation

Called in on my Kelly day yesterday for our shift's first Ice Runway operation of the season. Ice Runway takes about 5 minutes to reach from town, versus at least 30 min to get to Pegasus. B shift had attempted to take the rehabilitated Red 1 out the day before, but it has developed a cold-transmission-fluid issue. Apparently the transmission line leaks if the truck is moved without warming it up for a good long time first. Red 6 was also out of service because of its turbo power issue, which will be a 12 hr repair when VMF gets a chance.
Equipment eccentricites aside, it was a good day. Checked out Station 2, a double-wide next to the runway that the ARFF shift stays at. Its fully supplied with TV, Internet, board games, and a nice sunny reading nook for the evenings so I'm happy. Bathrooms are a cold walk away in another building though.
Our first Basler arrived, having made the trip in tandem with an Otter down through South America and across the South Pole. The Otter had problems and stopped at the Pole while the Basler went on. Polies are probably going out on Monday.
Today packages came in... MP3 and camera battery included!
Our Mainbody firefighters have been here about a week and are in the midst of the Academy. Like us they got a tour of the desalinization Water Plant. It's an interesting process, more simple than I expected. Two seawater pumps collect water from just outside town and pump it to the water plant. Then the water is stored in large tanks and heated up from 28 degrees to 36 degrees. This is the most energy-intensive part of the process and is done with waste heat from the Power Plant (this heat is also used to heat Crary Science Building and the dorms in the form of glycol pipes that run aboveground up the hill from the power plant). Once warm, the water goes through a 100 micron filter (100 microns is the width of a human hair) to remove algae. Next it's forced at high pressure through a setup of 32 3-4' long tubular osmosis filters which remove the salts. The filters are worth $15000 apeice and the system can process 40,000 gallons a day. After processing chlorine, soda ash, a calcium mix, and CO2 are added to the water to keep it clean and make it less corrosive to pipes. (Lots less hazmat concerns than at the water treatment plant back home). Desalinization makes the water so ultra-pure that before they figured out how much salt to add back in the water actually leached metal from the pipes and caused significant damage to the distribution system. Untreated ultra-pure water isnt good for people either; a scientist at Crary drank it for awhile and ended up getting medevaced with cramps and heart issues. Finally, two freshwater pumps pump the treated water up the hill into town and maintain a system pressure of at least 55 psi. As far as fire protection goes, we have 150,000 gals of freshwater stored at the plant, as well as 8 fire hydrants distributed through town. Water mains are small and the terrain is hilly; hydrant flow ranges from 290-700 gpm.

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