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'Santa shift' part of job for firefighters, law enforcement

Posted December 24, 2014

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— On Christmas morning, as most people gather with their families, an army of dedicated public safety workers will be on the job.

Firefighters, law enforcement officials, paramedics and hospital staff all have to work on holidays, but they find ways to celebrate.

The A shift at Cary Fire Station No. 3 on Kildaire Farm Road came in early Wednesday and will work until 8 a.m. Christmas morning, which presents a real challenge for Santa Claus.

Firefighter Brad Ferrell said Santa makes a special trip for his children, ages 7 and 2.

"They kind of understand what I do. They know Santa does special things for firemen," Ferrell said.

Firefighter Matt Stefanski's wife tries to keep their 2- and 4-year-olds upstairs till he gets home.

"That's usually the plan, but sometimes it doesn't work," Stefanski said.

Still, there's no shortage of Christmas cheer at the firehouse. Battalion Chief Tracy Strickland said families of the firefighters on duty stop by all day long.

"Sometimes they'll bring gifts; sometimes they don't. They just come to see their parents so they can spend some time with them on the holiday," Strickland said.

The fire station also plans to roast a whole hog for a Christmas feast.

"We're getting a pull-behind trailer (with a grill)," Stefanski said. "Firemen can eat. That's what we do best."

Food and fun aside, they said there are always calls for help on Christmas.

"Usually on holidays, you have somebody (who) burns some type of meal," Ferrell said.

Across the Triangle, hundreds of people will be on duty for the so-called "Santa shift," but they say it's just part of the job.

"The whole fire station's working – fire department, EMS is working. We're right across the street from the hospital. We see them all the time. All the police departments are working. They'll come by sometimes and eat with us," Strickland said.

"Just be safe. We're here if you need us," he added to those who have the day off.


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