Most of the JET staff have now returned from Christmas holidays, but while they were away JET still had its eyes and ears open. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year there is always a team of Shift Technicians and Incident Response Officers on duty, monitoring and patrolling the experimental facilities, keeping an eye and an ear out for anything out of the usual.
“We do tours and checks” says Shift Supervisor Richard Craven, “and monitor the alarms – there are 3000 of them!” They are also the first point of contact for any first aid, and in former times were even trained fire-fighters.
Mostly though the work is routine checks. When the site is shut for the Christmas – New Year period they are also requested to look after specialist equipment while their responsible officers are on leave. “There’s a scrubber in the beryllium plant that needs regular topping up with coolant, for example” says Richard Craven, “and we need to regularly change over the dryers in the active gas handling plant.”
Although they are on the lookout for the untoward, such events are very rare. “Once or twice there have been intruders, and occasionally staff working late ask to be escorted through dark parts of the site,” he says. The daily compensations make up for these occasional happenings – “The best thing is that with shift work you miss peak hour – the roads are always nice and quiet when you go home!”