Thanksgiving at the fire station | ParkRecord.com

Thanksgiving at the fire station

Major holidays like Thanksgiving are synonymous with family gatherings, a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings and even a day or two off from work.

And for four of the Firefighters at Park City Fire Station 31, their day will be almost exactly like that. They will cook, spend time with their wives and eat from a menu that was crafted weeks ago. However, they’ll do it at the fire station.

Thursday marks the beginning of a 48-hour shift for Matt Meinhold, Matt Provost, Ashley Lewis and Eric Hockridge so their celebrations will be limited to the station house on Holiday Ranch Loop Road, in a Basin-area neighborhood near State Road 224. The four men will join more than 20 firefighters at their respected stations as on-call responders Thanksgiving Day, arriving at 7 a.m. and not leaving until 7 p.m. Saturday.

As full-time firefighters they are required to be at the station, but barring an emergency, they are free to kick back.

"It’s actually pretty cool because our family will stop by and you get to hang out with your friends," said Meinhold, a battalion chief. "We spend as much time together almost as we do with our families and we have become really good friends. These guys are all really great cooks and we will probably have too much food planned."

The menu at Station 31 will include: smoked brisket, turkey, ham, elk, a cornbread-chorizo stuffing, Brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce, rolls and various desserts and pies.

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"My wife and family will come up and maybe my parents will stop by. It’s just kind of an open day for us," Meinhold said. "But if we get a call we still have to leave. Our families usually stay here and wait for us to get back and then we can continue the cooking and eating."

Lewis said his wife and their two-year-old son will also be there. Lewis said he’s son isn’t old enough yet to realize how unconventional the day is, adding that some of the kids enjoy the experience.

"For the guys who do have kids, it becomes a different tradition and it’s pretty unique," Lewis said. "They come to the station, hang out and get the opportunity that others don’t."

Provost and Hockridge, who are both married but without children, said they don’t mind working.

"I think holidays are different for me and I try as much as I can to work for people that have kids. They really appreciate me for it," Provost said.

Hockridge said his family will celebrate this weekend.

"For my family, this is all they have ever known for me job-wise," he said. "We always do holidays together and we are a small family so we’ll just do it later. This year, we’ll do it on Sunday. It’s just a day and it really doesn’t matter which day you do it as long as you spend it with family and friends."

Rearranging dinner time

Jennie Pyper, a county dispatcher, her husband, Dustin, and their three children have established a system for Thanksgiving.

If Jennie has to work in the evening, she will cook Thursday morning and they’ll eat early in the afternoon. If she is scheduled in the morning, her husband will cook and she’ll prepare the food the night before.

This year, her 8-hour-shift begins at 6 a.m. Pyper will be one of three dispatchers working on Thanksgiving Day.

Pyper has been a dispatcher for more than 13 years and has had to juggle numerous holidays with her husband, who is a postal worker. He is scheduled Thursday night.

"I have worked Thanksgiving before so the kids are used to it and they grew up in it," Pyper said. "It’s normal for them."

But unlike the firefighters at Station 31, Pyper’s family won’t be visiting her at the dispatch center. Her family will stay home and prepare the meal while she answers calls.

"The jail will have a Thanksgiving lunch for those who are on duty that day and we in the dispatch center will bring in goodies to munch on," Pyper said. "It’s not that bad."

However, Pyper says sometimes she does miss sharing the holidays with her brothers and sisters at their mother’s home in Price.

"It is difficult being away because I don’t get to go see my mom and I usually have to work," Pyper said. "So it is hard because I don’t get that time, but we try to make other trips down there."

While Pyper will miss out on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the cooking smells escaping from the kitchen in the morning, she takes pride in serving the community.

"I love what I do and someone has to be here so it all works out," Pyper said. "Besides, this year I am working Thanksgiving so I am off Christmas, which I would rather be off anyways, so it balances out."