As most of the city is busy making last-minute holiday preparations, Ardmore firefighters are still on the clock, out of sight but ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice.
Captain Brian McDaniel, driver Jason Cook and firefighter Jake Massey are working Christmas Eve. They’re three of the eight Ardmore firefighters scheduled for Christmas.
“People want to be with their families obviously, but we have to make sure that there’s enough people here to handle the job,” McDaniel said.
Sunday is a day of rest, more or less, for the Ardmore Fire Department. There are no classes or duties for the firefighters who are on the clock, and Christmas Eve will be no different. Aside from occasional visitors dropping off baked goods and staying vigilant, there’s nothing planned.
“This is our home,” McDaniel said. “We come in and work a 24-hour schedule, 7 a.m. to 7 a.m. People don’t always consider that we’re living here, but we are.”
With luck, the firefighters on duty during Christmas won’t have to contend with anything more dangerous than Netflix. However, McDaniel said that’s highly unlikely. With so many people on the road and the potential for icy weather, the risk is there. Lights and live Christmas trees that haven’t been watered also pose a danger.
“It’s hard to say what days will be busy,” McDaniel said. “But can a Christmas be busy? Yes, it sure can. We’ll try not to wake up the whole neighborhood with our trucks if we come by.”
For firefighters with families, Christmas Day might need to be rescheduled.
“In years past, we’ve had to make special arrangements with Santa,” McDaniel said. “But firemen and Santa are pretty close.”
McDaniel said his family is used to working around work for the holidays. He met his wife in the back of an ambulance, when she worked as an EMT. Now, she works as a nurse. McDaniel’s 18-year-old son recently joined the Coast Guard and is about to spend his first Christmas away from home.
“For us, it’s part of the job,” McDaniel said. “We knew coming in that this was a possibility and we all accept that. And it’s not just us. There’s police, ambulance services, my wife is a nurse. And there’s a lot of people other than us that have to work.”