When we think about getting involved in firefighting or EMS, we all understand that you have to work holidays. There are a lot of jobs that have to work holidays so we just accept it as a part of the job. We work weekends when everyone else is off and having parties, and we accept it as a part of the job. There is a certain mental block we use to make working the holidays not so bad. After you are out of that schedule and don’t work weekends or holidays anymore, you really begin to realize that working holidays really does suck.
- When we work a 24 hour shift, we miss the whole holiday. Talk to a policeman, nurse, or dispatcher and you will find they don’t like working the holiday because they have to adjust their schedule around the 8 hour shift that they work. A firefighter is going to miss the WHOLE holiday because we usually start at 7 or 8 am and work until the next day at 7 or 8 am. There is no adjusting the family gathering around that schedule, you just miss the entire day. It feels like Christmas just didn’t happen. You get off shift and drive home to the day after Christmas.
- It’s a nice touch when the family all calls from the dinner table to tell you how much they miss you and wish you could be there, …right? Unless some of your family has worked a 24 hour shift, they really don’t understand what it is like to be locked up in the station for the entire holiday. The family telling you how much they miss you just reminds you of the fun they are having that you should be a part of. We wish we could be there too.
- If you work a 24 hour on and 48 hour off shift, you will be lucky enough to work Christmas Day, and then 6 days later when the rest of the world is having a New Year’s toast, you will be working again. It’s a double whammy and it’s no fun. When leap year comes around you get to do this two years in a row, not fun.
- When we meet people on Holidays, it seems like they always talk about what a great meal we are having at the fire station that day. I have been on calls at dinner time when someone calls for something silly like the turkey spilled and the oven is smoking, and they think it is a good idea to talk about the great meal we are having at the station. Yeah you’re right, and I’m missing it to come tell you not to spill grease in your oven.
- Most people enjoy a few drinks during the Holidays and for some reason a lot of them think it’s funny to ask if you would like a drink while working even though they know we can’t accept a drink. If you do have an encounter with Fire or EMS on a holiday, just thank them for their service and go on about your business.
We are fortunate enough to have the ability to block out the fact that working holidays is bad. We accept it, and don’t really think about it. When you are done working that shift, you will realize how nice it is to be with the family on all the holidays. There is no place like home for the holidays.
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