What it’s like to work Christmas as a Fresno firefighter


FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – While many spent Christmas at home with family, first responders worked around the clock to keep everyone safe.

There’s an increase in fire hazards during the holidays with many families coming together for large gatherings, cooking, decorating and lighting candles. For Fresno firefighters, it makes the stakes even higher to protect the safety of families during the holiday season.

For Fresno Fire Captain Justin McDonald, Christmas is just another day on the job.

“In the evening after dinner, we try to relax as much as we can because the problem is we never know if we are going to be up all night, you never know what’s going to happen so you try to prepare for whatever comes,” Capt. McDonald said.

The seven on-duty crew members at Station 3 work two-day shifts. This year, that means Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Though many are away from home during the holidays, they aren’t without family.

“We live together for 48 hours so a third of our life is here so you become family with the guys you work with,” Capt. McDonald said.

McDonald did get a break Christmas morning to spend time with his wife and four kids, thanks to the help of another fire captain who filled in. Many firefighters have family visit them at the station while they are at work and share a meal together.

Dinner plans were delayed though this Christmas, as a call came in from an Office Depot, where smoke filled the store. Fresno Fire crews said the cause was likely due to a compactor fire from the back of the building. They were able to put it out and clear out the smoke without anyone getting injured.

Back at the station, McDonald’s family was waiting for him to return so they could share a meal. They have visited him at work for the past 13 Christmas’s.

“We sacrifice dad because he gets to help other families in need or the emergencies that come up, we all need emergencies taken care of sometimes,” Mandi McDonald, his wife, said.

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