Illinois Firefighter Serves Stint in Antarctica

June 19, 2012

An Illinois man conquered both fire and ice while working in one of the world’s coldest regions.

Quincy resident Alan Munger took an eight-month unpaid sabbatical from his post at a fire department in Quincy to work in Antarctica, the Quincy Herald-Whig reported Saturday.

The 48-year-old man faced 80-below-zero temperatures as a firefighter and paramedic on the continent’s Ross Island. The firefighting veteran supervised a crew of about 13 people, and no firefighter injuries were reported under his leadership, officials said.

“It was a good experience because it gave me supervision experience,” said Munger, who started his stint last August and returned home on March 1.

Munger also learned new firefighting tactics during his stay: In Antarctica, chemicals are used to fight fires, not water.

The McMurdo Station where Munger stayed is home to about 1,100 people, mostly American scientists and military support personnel.

While most of the station’s buildings are dorms, maintenance supply and science facilities, there were also two bars and a coffee house with a movie theater, the newspaper reported.

Munger had Internet access and heard several talented musicians during his stay.

He also made the three-hour trip to visit the South Pole.

“The silence and clean air was amazing,” Munger said. “You could reach up and touch the stars.”

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