Christmas Day is a working holiday for some

Published 3:14 am Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Day is a holiday, an automatic day off for almost all of us, but not quite all.

There are those who have to work at 24-hour stores, restaurants and gas stations. Police and fire officials also have to be on call, as do the dispatchers who direct those emergency crews to the scene of the emergency.

“We work in 12-hour shifts,” said Demopolis Police Department patrolman Richard Bryant. “It’s difficult for a number of reasons, mostly because of family. I have a wife and five kids, and they always ask, ‘Daddy, why have you always got to work on Christmas?’ and I try to explain it to them, but it’s difficult to explain it to children. I try to tell them that Daddy has to work on Christmas so that everybody else can have a safe and happy Christmas.”

Bryant said that Christmas is a dangerous time for police officers everywhere, because of robberies and people getting depressed and despondent.

“The biggest things for me on Christmas is the speeders,” Bryant said. “They’re in a hurry to get to their families. We get calls about people who have had too much to drink and are acting up a little at their homes.”

Dispatchers Jennifer Robertson and Latrina Wilson will have to work 12-hour shifts on Christmas Day to make sure emergency personnel get where they are needed.

Firefighters will also have to report to work on Christmas Day.

“The work schedule is the same as always,” said Demopolis Fire and Rescue Department battalion chief Talmus Williams.

“Whatever day of the week that Christmas falls on, if you’re scheduled to work that day, that is your day.”

DFRD firefighters work 24-hour shifts, and Williams and six firefighters will be on call this Christmas.

“It’s rough, because you’d rather be with your family,” Williams said, “but the firefighters here are family, so that makes things better. The family can come here and visit, and all the kids get together, so it’s kind of a family gathering.

“A lot of times, the guys will get together for a prayer and remember the real reason for the season.”

While you are enjoying Christmas Day, keep in mind those who have to take at least a part of the holiday — in some cases, the entire day — to go to work to serve others and to keep everyone’s Christmas safe and happy.