“You smell of seared animal” – Lori Gravelle Antarctic Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor / Vegetarian
Today is Monday, September 12, 2011 and in honor of the memory of those who lost their lives during the tragic incidents of September 11th, 2001, the Fire Department had a cookout last night. It was a fantastic time and several of the people around the station who do not work in this field came over to the fire house, lured in by the smell reminescint of good times in the states. It was also one of the rare times that all 5 of the fire dispatchers were in the station at the same time. Pictures to come later. A group of 5 dispatchers is known as a “Murder”. There is your daily bit of Ice trivia from Tori.
So, since Cookie Wednesday, here is what I’ve been up to. – Work, Work, Party, Freeze, Work, Freeze, Work, Party, Sleep. Do you notice a recurring theme here? Let me indulge a bit on both of the above topics.
Work. Starting on Saturday, we changed to shift work. Prior to that, I was working 0700 to 1500 Monday – Saturday and enjoying Sundays off. On Wednesday, the weather turned bad and we were in Condition two weather from Thursday through Saturday. This meant no recreational travel and not a lot of work being done by the rest of the staff here. THAT means not a lot of work going on at the fire house.
Thursday consisted of a quiet day at work and a quiet evening at home. Then we got a page from Pam, the dispatcher on duty, that she had gotten the first emergency dispatch of the season. It was for a smell of fuel in one of the buildings. Our guys got onscene and didn’t find anything wrong. But still. She had the first call so she has bragging rights.
Friday night was karaoke night at one of the bars. When I arrived I specifically told my roommate not to let me sing. She didn’t listen to me. Instead, she and one of the firefighters said “With your southern accent (I have an accent apparently) I bet you can sing any country song you want.” Ok – I don’t like country music. I tend to stay away from it. But they managed to convince me that singing a song by the Dixie Chicks was an excellent idea. So I did. And surprisingly, the place didn’t empty.
Saturday was my first day on shift. 0700 – 1900. It made for a very long day since I was used to getting off at 1500 and going home for a nap on nasty weather days. The weather on Friday night and early Saturday morning was cold and nasty. The windchill had brought the weather down to -47 degrees so when I made my 150 yard walk to work (uphill) my ears felt like little icicles. The only other footprints in the snow were those of my supervisor who normally arrives at work 15 – 20 minutes before I do. I found it odd, however, that I saw the footprints track back down and disappear once they got just past building 142 (Medical). I thought perhaps she had forgotten something so I didn’t think anything else of it, until I got to the door.
The door to enter the firehouse has a large lever style handle (as do most other exterior doors around here). What I found odd was that, instead of being at regular door handle height, I had to reach down almost to my knees to open up the door. That is when I realized how much snow had drifted in front of the entrance to the firehouse. I had to use extreme caution stepping down into the bay over three feet of snow, but I managed to get into work successfully. Shortly after 10am, I had to attend an EOC meeting just to observe things and learn more about EOC activations down here. Luckily, I’ve had some previous experience with EOC activities so I knew a lot of what the different terminology meant. *Another fun fact, a snow storm with hurricane force winds is called a Herbie.
After the meeting, we fought our way through the storm and went to lunch. By the time I arrived back at the station, the wind had stopped blowing and the firefighters had shoveled away most of the snow drifts blocking the entrances. At about 1500, I started feeling tired so Lori covered the silent radios and phones for me. I walked outside of the back of the firehouse and got my first clear view of Ob Hill and thought to myself “I’m gonna need to go to the gym more before trying to hike up that.” The rest of my shift went by fairly quickly and I FINALLY got to dispatch a call! It only took two weeks. I recieved a report of smoke coming from a washing machine in HoCal (Building 166 – dorm room “Hotel California”. No true emergency, all ended well and the rest of my shift went by quickly.
Saturday night was interesting. There was a scheduled “Dance off” at one of the bars. It was a themed party and everyone had an amazing time. Saturday night also marked the first time I have fallen since coming down here. I have to say that I fell quite gracefully and fell in front of a large group of people who didn’t realize that I had actually fallen down, they just thought I decided to sit on the snow. When they asked me what I was doing I told them that I was just getting a closer look. I thought it sounded like a good excuse. They believed me. After a while of hanging out at Gallaghers, I went with one of the guys over to Southern to shoot pool… I thought I was doing a decent job until I heard someone ask him why he was playing so poorly. His response “It’s not fair if I don’t play down to the level of other people.” My game MUST improve. Something else to throw onto the bucket list.
Sunday marked my first day off in this set of off days. I honestly did not do much other then make a few calls to family and friends. If I didn’t call you, don’t worry, I will. Sunday was also a rather dreary day outside, so I spent most of the day around building 155 (my home). I hopped over to the coffee house for a bit and had a mocha (only a dollar, I’ll never be able to justify purchases at Starbucks again) and then came back for a nap. After I woke up, I headed to the firehouse for our cookout. Apparently, Captain Pahl and Captain Fleuette were given an unearthed box of hamburgers and hotdogs from the warehouse. I don’t know where they managed to find charcoal but the cooking aromas drew people in from far and wide. It was amazing.
One of the bakers also made a cake for us. I have been good at avoiding the bakery area of the cafeteria, but I couldn’t resist the temptation. It was amazing. The frosting was a tad too sweet for me (a good thing in my opinion) but the cake part of it was absolutely perfect. We had a good time hanging out, the guys played basketball in the bay and people who work for other departments were given tours of the station. Also, pictures of the station to come.
After the cookout, Pam and I went to Gallaghers to see what was going on. Since Monday marks the first day of work on the “town” schedule, most people don’t go out on Sunday night so the place was pretty empty. After chatting with a few people, we went to the Coffeehouse where I learned how to play Yahtzee. It was a pretty relaxing day.
Again, today is Monday, September 12, 2011 and it is my second day off. The weather is gorgeous. It is 8 degrees with a windchill of -10. Later on, I plan on going down to Hut Point with Pam since the group I was going to go with this morning is no where to be seen. Hopefully we will see new and interesting things and I’ll add pictures of those later as well.
Hope you all are doing well.
xoxo – Tori