Helicopter engulfed in fire during Scott Base emergency scenario

It might be freezing cold and surrounded by ice and snow, but one of the greatest dangers for people living at Scott Base in Antarctica is fire.

In one of the harshest environments in the world fire can quickly get out of control.

A report released last year exposed Scott Base as being extremely vulnerable to the threat of fire - one of the main reasons the base is being redeveloped.

The combination of living in close confines mixed with the dryness of the air and little access to fresh running water is a potential recipe for disaster - that's why training is so crucial.

And that's why the team of 24 heading to the ice this summer are undergoing intensive fire and emergency training. 

"We've got search and rescue in smoke-filled environments, dealing with fires, dealing with car fires, helicopter rescues and fires, and also stretcher recovering for medical events," says Fire and Emergency New Zealand trainer co-ordinator Paul Manson.

In one particular scenario, crews are dealing with a crashed helicopter which is engulfed in fire. They've got to get in, safely extinguish the fire, and then retrieve the person who was on board.

The exercises are demanding in order to prepare the team for if a real fire should break out.

"It's been awesome. It's exhausting both physically and mentally but it's a great way to build the confidence and get us ready to do our job while we're down there," says Lauren Hawke, shop and bar coordinator at Scott Base.

Down on the base they take fire seriously. There's a crew rostered on 24 hours a day.

"[There is] early prevention with smoke alarms and detection systems to make sure we can cope with whatever happens immediately otherwise it could get into the walls and spread through various spaces quickly," Manson says.

Now if the worst were to happen, this crew has faced the heat and is ready to deal with whatever their summer on the ice brings.