Antartica Firefighter

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By Tia Lynn Ivey

managing editor

Landon York was just a little boy in a library when he stumbled upon a book about Antarctica. Immediately fascinated, Antarctica became an instant dream.

“I knew one day I would go,” said Landon York.

Now, Landon, a Madison resident, is serving his third tour in Antarctica as a firefighter for the next eight months at McMurdo Station, the largest American base in Antartica.

York first became a firefighter in Greensboro, working locally until 2014, but he never forgot his dream to one day go to Antartica. When he discovered that the U.S. Antarctic Program was in need of firefighters, he jumped at the chance to serve in Antarctica.

“I’ve never filled out more paperwork in my life,” said York. “But it was well worth it. I first went to the ice in October 2014 for three months to try it out and I fell in love with it.”

York is tasked with covering McMurdo Station, which is an American research base and logistics hub, founded in 1959. During the summer, 1000 people live at the base, but only 200 during the winter months. The base sits at the base of Mount Erebus, the southern most active volcano in the world.

“The best way I can describe it is a varied group of people who come from all over the country, from all kinds of walks of life. I love that about it.”

York explained that the base exists to conduct a myriad of scientific experiments that require a community of people to adequately and safely perform. “It requires logistics, housing, plumbers, electricians, a hospital, medical personnel, firefighters, cooks–it’s a mini-civilization,” said York. “A lot of ice and snow covers the ground.”

York and his fellow firefighters respond to any aviation emergencies or fire outbreaks. York is honored to be serving in this program because he believes in the work they do there.

“This work is important because in our world, espeically in the political arena, science is often pushed to the back burner,” said York.  “But we need science to address the major issues facing our world today…said York, dealing with planets health in general, experiments done in Antartica.” York said the base conducts experiments with wildlife, weather patterns, geological elements, and determining different factors that affect the planet based on its age.

“The ice is a good marker for its age and pollution level,” said York

But York’s favorite part of serving in Antartica is dwelling in a land with such a peaceful history.

“It really is a unique environment,” said York. “Antarctica is the only continent that has never seen a war and it’s pure in that way. It’s the last innocent place on the planet where human beings haven’t gathered to kill one another and to me that’s very special….no where else on earth will you see this much international cooperation.”

York remembers people telling him that he was crazy for thinking he could go to Antarctica. “I am so glad I didn’t listen to them,” said York.

“Your dreams are only as crazy as other people let you believe theeare. My entire life’s goal was to come to Antarctica and I achieved that because I looked into what it takes to make it happen.”

York hopes people will be inspired by his own story and follow their own dreams.

“It takes imagination,” said York. “I found my dream in a library book. Never underestimate the power of reading and what that can do for your imagination and for your life.”

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