The department maintains two fire stations at McMurdo: Station 1 is at central McMurdo and Station 2 serves the station’s airfields. The Station 1 fleet consists of two fire engines, a water tender, an ambulance, a rescue vehicle, and a SCAT (Self Contained Attack Truck) firefighting vehicle. The Station 2 fleet consists of an ambulance and seven ARFF (Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting) vehicles, which are fully tracked to handle the deeper snow cover that surrounds the runways. Station 2 apparatus is distributed and dispatched to different airfields depending on the current flight activity.
During the Antarctic summer (October-February), McMurdo’s population is at its highest, and the Antarctic Fire Department maintains a staff of about 46, including 21 firefighters (the other personnel being dispatchers, lieutenants, and command staff). In the winter (February-August), McMurdo’s resident population declines to 200 or less and the Antarctic Fire Department staffing decreases to twelve.
PAE (which provides logistical support to McMurdo Station generally) operates the Antarctic Fire Department. As well as fires and fire alarms, the department handles medical calls, hazmat spills, odor investigations, assists dive emergencies, and other tasks as needed (including herding seals and penguins off runways for incoming flights). Department dispatchers monitor all off-base foot travel, and all off-base vehicle movements during extreme weather.