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How first responders spend their Thanksgiving at work

Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 7:08 PM CST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Every year, empty seats are often seen at Thanksgiving tables due to some loved ones having to work and respond in case of an emergency.

Evansville firefighters at Station #3 are making the most of spending the holiday at work.

These firefighters may not get to spend Thanksgiving with their family, but they say their “work family” takes a close second.

“Everybody brought in a dish, we’re going to celebrate our own Thanksgiving here,” firefighter Derek Cox said. “We’ve got ham, turkey, all the sides.”

“There’s always way more than we need, but it’s just a good assortment everybody throws in and tries to make it as much as a family Thanksgiving meal with our family at work, as it would be with our family at home,” Captain Brandon Barnard said.

And while the turkey cooks, the group of firefighters has to find a way to pass the time. This year, they chose ping pong.

As these first responders try to make it a special day, their families celebrate without them at home.

“This is my first Thanksgiving with the fire department,” Cox said. “My wife is home with my six-week-old, and it seems like any day I’m at work the baby sleeps the least, so I can’t wait to celebrate with them tomorrow.”

Captain Barnard has been a firefighter working on holidays for 16 years now.

“It’s kind of funny because the families joke about the family pictures that I’m in and the pictures I’m not in, so it’s easy to tell the years I was at work and the years I wasn’t,” Barnard said.

They have fun and celebrate when it’s quiet, but when they’re needed, it becomes a regular day.

“You hope that something tragic doesn’t happen on today, but if it does, and it does,” Barnard said. “It’s just good to know that we can hopefully arrive and provide for a better outcome to make what could have been something tragic, turn into something they can be even more grateful for.”

“There’s always one holiday I might miss, but making that impact, it’s worth it,” Cox said. “Definitely the best job in the world.”

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