Firefighters at Park City Fire Station stay busy on Christmas
Crew works a shift as families await their return
December 27, 2016
For the three-member crew at Park City Fire Station No. 36, the holidays are just another opportunity to continue doing what they love.
At 7 a.m., Sunday, Dec. 25, they arrived at the station near Park City Mountain Resort to begin their 24-hour tour. They didn't put up a Christmas tree or adorn the station with holiday decorations while listening to Christmas music, and no family visits were planned or feasts prepared. But no one seemed to mind.
"I'm from Colorado and all of my family is there. But my wife is from Salt Lake so we made all the rounds yesterday," Henry Evans, a firefighter with the Park City Fire District, said in an interview with The Park Record on Sunday. "I actually don't mind being here. It's kind of nice and it's just another day to do what we love."
Firefighters typically work two 24-hour shifts a week, with at least 23 on-duty personnel. For the crew at station No. 36, this meant their tour would fall on Dec. 24 and Dec. 25. However, instead of working Christmas Eve, they traded shifts. It is the only time they will have a day off in between their tours.
Brian Farnsworth, a captain, said he offered to work because his family celebrates with a large party on Christmas Eve.
"There are guys who have kids that want to be home and we did all of our stuff yesterday," Farnsworth said. "I don't mind being here. There are a lot of guys who trade for today because their family isn't from here or so the ones with little kids can be home."
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Patrick Harwood, battalion chief, said the fire district responds to more calls than usual on Christmas Day, adding "it's already been a busy morning." But, what's busy? Breakfast at 12:30 p.m., he said.
"On average, each station gets two or three calls a day. But today, station No. 31 has already had five calls and we have had a couple," Harwood said.
Harwood said they responded to an incident at an apartment complex on Main Street in Park City after a burlap bag was left partially resting on a gas stove, causing a small fire to break out. He said they also responded to several fire alarms and other "holiday mishaps."
However, Harwood said nearly 85 percent of the calls the fire district responds to during the holidays are medical incidents, such as skier transports.
"People travel here for Christmas and while there are not necessarily accidents per say, their diabetes may give them troubles here or their hearts go into fits from the traveling," Harwood said. "With the holidays we also have a lot of burnt toast or people leaving something on the stove. Things like that."
Last year around Christmas, the district responded to several devastating structural fires where the homes were completely destroyed. Harwood didn't anticipate any similar calls this year, but added "it's always the days you never predict."
'I wouldn't trade it for the world'
Harwood said the crews at the other stations sometimes have family members visit and bring food, but he had no complains about how his day was turning out. He said he already opened presents with his 11-year-old son at a holiday party with family and friends on Christmas Eve.
"We've all already spent time with our families and it's just part of the job. We spend one-third of our life here away from our family and I wouldn't trade it for the world," Harwood said.