Archive for Thursday, November 22, 2012

At Lawrence fire station, another kind of family gathers for Thanksgiving dinner

Personnel at Lawrence Fire Station No. 5, 1911 Stewart Ave., gather with family members for a Thanksgiving meal Thursday afternoon. Station members from left at center are John Darling, Matt Dohrn and Zane Morgan.

Personnel at Lawrence Fire Station No. 5, 1911 Stewart Ave., gather with family members for a Thanksgiving meal Thursday afternoon. Station members from left at center are John Darling, Matt Dohrn and Zane Morgan.

November 22, 2012


In the living room, children play on the floor while their parents sit in armchairs, dinner plates in their laps, watching football on TV.

Around the corner in the kitchen, other parents and kids sit around a dinner table, a full Thanksgiving spread sitting on the counter nearby.

It could have been a scene from any number of family Thanksgiving gatherings Thursday. But this one was happening at Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Station No. 5, where the 10 firefighters and paramedics on duty invited their families in for their own Thanksgiving dinner.

"We always say that this is our second family," Lt. Aaron Flory said, and on holidays like this, it gathers together just like any other family unit. After all, these men spend about one-third of their lives together in this station.

At Station No. 5, three crews split up 24-hour shifts that start and end at 7 a.m. So there's a one-in-three chance that your crew will be working on Thanksgiving or any other single holiday.

"It's just however it falls," Flory said.

But the families who came in to Station 5 on Thursday said their husbands' and fathers' unusual schedules don't make for any real hardship when holidays come around; it just requires them to get a bit creative.

"We make holidays whatever day we need to make them," said Teri Morgan, the wife of Captain Zane Morgan.

Some families push their Thanksgiving celebration up or back a day, while others spent the earlier part of the day visiting different family units.

The firefighters, paramedics and their families enjoyed a wide-ranging spread Thursday: baked beans, green-bean casserole, corn souffle, all manner of pies, with the centerpiece a brisket that Flory spent eight hours smoking at home on Wednesday.

"My son loves it," said Vince Davis, a firefighter/paramedic. "He likes to see what I do and the people I work with."

Indeed, 5-year-old Devyn Davis said his favorite part of the day was "looking at the fire trucks."

After 3-year-old Macey Nissen looked up at her dad, Scott, from his lap and asked him, "Daddy, will you play with me?" he gladly took her on a tour of the station, showing her the room he sleeps in while he's there, decorated all over with photos of Macey and her siblings.

Of course, one key difference between this gathering and those elsewhere is that many members of this "family" may at any moment be called to don fire gear and head out to an emergency somewhere.

Several family members can recall sitting down to a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner here, only to have the alarms go off right away.

They just keep eating and wait patiently for their husbands and dads to return, Teri Morgan says.

"When the alarm sounds, they go, and we know to just hang out," Teri said.

All in all, the situation isn't all that bad, says Heidi Davis, Vince's wife — especially compared with Vince's holiday shifts in the days when he was a police officer.

"I really appreciate, even if it's just 30 minutes or an hour, we at least get to come see him a little bit," Heidi said.

Kids do notice that their parents' career makes holidays a little different from how they are for other families, Flory says.

"When they're little kids, they ask, 'Why can't you be here?' " he said.

But he said he explains that somebody's got to be there to keep people safe. His daughters eventually understand, he says, and maybe even take pride that it's their dad who's filling that role.

"We're used to it," said Zane Morgan's daughter Taylar, a junior at Tonganoxie High School.

Really, the firefighters say, the job just provides for another nice meal, another holiday tradition, another family.


Norma Jeane Baker 5 years, 7 months ago

A big heartfelt "Thank You" to all the emergency workers (police, fire, docs, nurses, etc.) who work 24/7/365 and to their families!

Danielle Brunin 5 years, 7 months ago

Absolutely! What an amazing group of people!

Kontum1972 5 years, 7 months ago

thx for protecting us 24/7 ---365....days.

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