It’s tough to be away from home during holidays that are traditionally spent with family and friends. But firefighters are a kind of family unto themselves, and they make the best of it because they know their work is important to the communities they serve.
Firefighters will usually attempt to prepare traditional Thanksgiving meals – a challenging task for busier crews whose cooking duties can be frequently interrupted by alarms. Sometimes a local hotel, restaurant, organization or grateful citizen will provide the meal. Many departments allow firefighters to invite family to their fire stations for Thanksgiving. Not only is this a pleasant break in routine, it allows someone to keep an eye on the turkey so it doesn’t burn. Dried out poultry is bad enough; it’s really embarrassing when firefighters get called for smoke coming out of their own station!
But along with food, family, and camaraderie comes house fires, traffic accidents, serious medical situations, and other emergencies. Firefighters leave their families and turkey dinners to help others in need, and all too often witness the loss of homes and loved ones during a time that should be full of joy.
A quick Internet search led me to this video posted in 2009 that gives a glimpse into firehouse life on Thanksgiving in New York City:
I like this video because it captures the spirit of firefighters and the good-natured ribbing that goes on in the station. It even includes a quick tutorial on some firefighting equipment. It also shows a classic phenomenon: the alarm going off right as the crew sits down to eat. One firefighter rises from his seat as he continues to shovel food into his mouth until the very last moment when he has to leave the table. Most firefighters have used this time-tested maneuver at some point in their careers (and for some it’s a regular habit!) because they never know just how long they’ll be gone.