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Home > Topics > Fire-EMS
December 25, 2013

Report: Safety doesn't get the holidays off

Some jobs come with the understanding that you will be required to work on holidays

The Decatur Daily

DECATUR, Ala. — Working on Christmas Day is not the ideal way to spend the holiday, but it’s a reality for some.

Some jobs come with the understanding that one may be required to work on holidays.

Three Decatur firefighters of Fire and Rescue Station No. 7 are determined to make the best of working on Christmas. Lt. Mark Schrimsher, firefighter and paramedic Jamie Patterson, and firefighter James Daugette are scheduled to work a 24-hour shift that day.

Each Decatur fire station will have three to five firefighters working Christmas Day, Schrimsher said. He said family members usually stop by the station to visit, making the workday better.

“Of course, not being able to spend the day with your family is the biggest drawback, but we make the best of it,” Schrimsher said. “We watch football, cook ourselves a meal, and our families will stop by to see us.”

He said their meal is planned days in advance.

“The hardest decision of the day will be figuring out what to eat,” said driver engineer Derek Watts. Watts, a firefighter for 28 years, isn’t working Christmas Day, but he is no stranger to it.

Schrimsher, Patterson and Watts said they have no way of knowing if the day will be quiet or hectic.

“If we’re busy, then someone is having a very bad day,” said Schrimsher, a 17-year firefighter.

Patterson, a 15-year firefighter, recalled a house fire on Christmas Eve that destroyed everything the family owned.

“Calls like that are pretty tough, especially during the holidays,” he said.

Unlike the firefighters of Station No. 7, Decatur police officer Marcus Smiley knows what’s in store for him.

“We are usually really busy Christmas Day,” said Smiley, a Decatur officer of four years. “On holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, we have a lot of domestic issues. Families get together, and they sometimes cause problems.”

Smiley will work from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. He plans to celebrate Christmas with his family on Christmas Eve.

“I plan to just rest when I get home Christmas Day,” he said.

Smiley said although he would like to be off for the holiday, he has a duty to fulfill.

“I understand that this is a part of my job,” he said. “You can’t pick and choose what part of the job you’re going to do.”

Police spokesman Lt. John Crouch said only nonessential personnel, such as investigators and administrative staff, will be off work. Crouch said City Councilman Roger Anders will treat fire and rescue and police officers to a Christmas meal at Ryan’s, a buffet restaurant on Beltline Road. Anders said the gesture is his way of saying, “Thank you for working Christmas Day.”

As the crowds roll in, Ryan’s General Manager Jacky Yeung said he will take good care of Decatur’s men and women in uniform. This will be the restaurant’s first year being open Christmas Day.

“I expect to have a good crowd, but you never know until the day comes,” Yeung said.

Ryan’s will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Yeung said he plans to celebrate the holiday with his wife and six children when he gets off work.

“That’s kind of our tradition,” he said.

Copyright 2013 The Decatur Daily

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

All Rights Reserved

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