Peter Rodell - Firefighting in Power Station

Wed 7th February 2018 at 18.30 - 20.00

Peter describing a guide rope

Following the failure of our arranged speakers from the Hospice  to attend (they mixed dates up and thought it was Thursday ).
Peter Rodell volunteered to talk about knots but as he was adlibbing,  veered off asking us first how the expression get knotted came about. In his opinion it stemmed from guide ropes installed by firefighters to ensure that firefighters working in smoke filled areas knew which way to go to exit safely from a burning building. When the rope are installed, they have at regular intervals short lengths of lighter ropes  which are tied to the main rope and hang down from it. They are always installed in pairs, one has a plain free end, the other one has a knot in the free end. It which is easily detected by the fire fighter feeling along the main rope and by following the direction of the knot, he knows he is going to the exit.
During his working life in the Nuclear Power Industry, Peter was also a volunteer on the emergency firefighting   team at the stations he worked. At one station they had a report of a fire in Reactor 1 Blower House 1a. Their team turned out with their Fire Truck (a converted electric milk float) – which trundled at walking pace around to the scene of the fire. There was lots of smoke in an area of immense proportions, guide lines were quickly installed to enable them to first search for the fire source and the local County  Fire Brigade also arrived and took over the operation, but despite a lengthy search no fire could be found. From his local knowledge, Peter knew that the usual culprits of fires were welders and knew that one of the station welders had been working in the adjacent Blower House 1b, checking there they found a fire raging, the prevailing wind was blowing the smoke underneath the reactor and it was exiting in Blower House 1a. Having located the source, it was quickly brought under control.
On another occasion, they had a call that there was  a fire in Reactor 2, they all turned up at the Fire Station, changed into their protective suits, told control they were ready and directed where to go. They sped off, followed by their trundling milk float Fire Engine. They had to go to Boiler 9 and needed to travel through a gate separating the conventional section of the site from the nuclear section. Soon on site, they found a huge burn and had to ascend 5 flights of stairs to attack it with their BCF Fire extinguishers. They got it under control and he and his mate were checking round to ensure that they had all of the fire extinguished. His mate Wayne, lifted the lid of a hatch and inadvertently contaminated his arm. On leaving a supervisor tore a strip off them for not having the appropriate clothing for a nuclear area (they were in the fire fighting garb), but the result was they had to go into de-contamination and all of their clothing (including expensive fire fighting kit)was destroyed.
His final experience was during a night shift when they had a bomb scare, they had to search an area remote from the station whilst the bomb squad were called. Peter and his colleagues found nothing, but the Bomb Squad did come across a suspicious package and duly carried out a controlled explosion.
After several questions President Nominee Brian Boyd proposed a vote of thanks to Peter.