Firefighters spend holiday at work

By Anna Carrera

Published 12/25 2013 08:43PM

Updated 12/25 2013 10:19PM

URBANA -- While some people have enjoyed this holiday at home with their families, many others have been punching their time cards at work. Urbana firefighters started their 24-hour shift at 7AM.

"It's hard to be away from your regular family but it's great," said firefighter Matt Ritchie. "I love being with these guys."

The Urbana firefighters already spent Memorial day, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July working this year. But they say all those are just days on the calendar.

"To me, it's not so much about that date," said Fire Captain Dave Wisher. "It's about what it means and things like that."

Since it's an all-day shift, family members sometimes stop in to celebrate, but they don't usually stay for dinner.

"We've tried to have a few meals where we'll have all the guys and their wives and kids will come and stuff," said Wisher, "but as soon as we sit down, we start getting calls."

So the firefighters got ready to feed themselves. On the menu for Christmas dinner: pulled pork and hash brown casserole. They say it can be a little tough when they can't be with their real families.

"I had one daughter that was begging me this morning to call in sick so I could still do Christmas, but they understand," said Ritchie. "We did most of it last night and then a little bit this morning before I came in."

But they're proud to be working, regardless of the day.

"We're blessed to have this job so getting hit for Christmas or something, it's fine. It's worth it," said Wisher.

Two sets of siblings work in the Urbana department -- including one set of twins -- making that work family even more close.

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