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Stauchy Blog » Blog Archive » There’s a Fire Alarm at Ice Cube Drill Camp (Drill) - Dec. 2 (JRS)

There’s a Fire Alarm at Ice Cube Drill Camp (Drill) - Dec. 2 (JRS)

Just about everyone on station knew that a drill was coming.  There had been talk about it all week.  Everyone thought that it was going to happen at Ice Cube, and each day, the rumor was that it was going to happen the next day.  The anticipation was driving me nuts, and my stomach hurt all the time with nerves.  Today at about 9am, the alarm finally sounded.

I was at my desk in the B2 Lab and I was pretty sure the drill would be today, despite trying my hardest to not know anything.  So, I woke up nervous, and was actually relieved when the alarm went off.  “There’s a fire alarm at Ice Cube Drill Camp… There’s a fire alarm at Ice Cube Drill Camp.”  I hurried down the hall, seeing several others reacting quickly and running down the hall either towards their locker, or towards DZ where transportation would soon arrive.  I got into my bunker gear and ran out the front door of the station shoving my SCBA hose down my jacket with my mask.  We had been told by the previous crew that in the cold temperatures outside, our mask, regulator and hoses would freeze and become non-functional.

As I ran out the door, I heard the call over the radio that two Team 2 members were on their way, along with Lynette as on-scene commander (OSC).  When I ran out in front of the building, there was a snow mobile and a van waiting to shuttle people.  I jumped into a sled on the back of the snow mobile, along with Claire, the back up Team 2 lead, and Steve, a member of the Trauma Team.  I radioed in that I was enroute and held on for the ride across the runway.  The nervousness was gone and I was actually having a good time.

When I arrived on scene, I saw the two Team 2 members with Lynette, along with several other people.  I reported in as Team 2 lead, and got the low-down on what was going on.  There was heavy smoke reported in one of the generator buildings.  We were told that the CO2 system had been activated, which means that the building would have been flooded with CO2 gas in order to put out the fire.  We were assured that there was nobody inside and that everyone had been accounted for.  We decided to give the CO2 some time to do its job and put out the fire.  We sent Team 2 members to locations around the building with fire extinguishers to make sure that the fire didn’t spread to surrounding buildings.

At about that time, it was noticed that the drill lead for Ice Cube was not accounted for.  He had been at the Ice Cube Lab, which is located some distance from Ice Cube Drill Camp.  A couple of Team 1 (hasty response team) were sent to investigate, and before long, they discovered that he had crashed his snow mobile on his way to the scene (all part of the planned drill).  All attention was turned to the accident and several Trauma Team members were sent to his aide.  We did not send any of my team since there was no fire danger.  By the time the accident scene was under control, it had been some time since the CO2 gas had been discharged.

We had all gotten sucked into the accident, and had somewhat lost track of what was going on at the drill camp.  Lynette and I, along with the other team leads made our way around to a better vantage point of the involved building.  We decided to send in a couple of my guys to check out the building and make sure that the fire was taken care of.  I told four people to gear up in their SCBA.  Our policy when we enter an involved structure is to have two in and two out at all times.  That way, each person has a buddy, and the team that is inside has a back-up team that is ready to go in if anything goes wrong.  It took about 15 minutes for the four to get ready, then someone from Ice Cube briefed them on what the inside of the building would be like.  They quickly searched the small building, opened up both doors and put fans up to ventilate the smoke.  At this point, Lynette recommended a stand down, and Andy (in Comms as incident commander) concurred, and the drill was ended, about an hour after the alarm had sounded.

Everything went fairly well for the drill.  The two biggest mistakes that I made, in my opinion, was waiting so long to search the building (it ended up being something like 45 minutes, when we should have gone in after about 20), and the fact that I had a hard time keeping track of my team members.  There are always lessons to be learned.  Nobody got hurt, so that makes it a successful drill.

-JRS

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