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Archive for Saturday, December 26, 1998

HOLIDAY SHIFT NOT ALL BUSINESS AT FIRE HALLS

December 26, 1998

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Members of the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical agency do what they can to make working on Christmas enjoyable.

Although Christmas isn't their favorite work shift, the 33 local firefighters and paramedics on duty often get an emotional boost on the holiday from community members.

"We had one family come in and sing us carols today," said Eve Tolefree, a lieutenant working at Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical station No. 2, 1941 Haskell Ave. "Another family brought us baked goods. The community really supports us."

The emergency workers do what they can to make staffing the holiday an enjoyable experience.

They usually have at least one sit-down dinner together. On Friday, the crew at station No. 2 had its meal at brunch.

"It makes it a little more of a homier atmosphere," Tolefree said.

Many members of the agency are used to working on Christmas, Thanksgiving and other holidays.

"It's just the luck of the draw," she said.

"It's just something you take in stride," said Capt. Mark Elliott, who was on duty Friday at station No. 1, Seventh and Kentucky.

"Most people spend time with their families the day before or the day after."

In addition, Fire & Medic members who live in town are allowed to go home -- on call -- for two hours during their 24-hour shift, which begins at 7 a.m.

Mike Fulkerson, a part-time firefighter who signed on with LDCF&M in April, was spending his first Christmas with the department at station No. 2.

"It's just kind of like another day," he said. "Most people do their Christmas the day before, or like we did, they start really early. We started at 4:30 a.m. today."

Tolefree said one advantage of working on the holidays is that they usually are slower.

"With our job, when you go out that door, you know you could be working a serious incident," Elliott said.

"We hope that doesn't happen -- especially on the holiday -- not just for ourselves, but for the people we work for."

-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is mdekker@ljworld.com.

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