Always on the job

Firefighters with the Princeton Fire Department clean hoses used for a nighttime house fire, Christmas day.

BLUEFIELD — First responders throughout the area traded in wrapped gifts for uniforms as they served the area on Christmas Day.

“We have an understanding. We know it’s a calling and that we don’t do it for the money. We understand that it comes with the territory. You’d be surprised how much the community supports us,” Sgt. B.W. Copenhaver of Bluefield City Police Department said.

Though Copenhaver and his faithful partner K9 unit Thor had to report to duty on Christmas Day, both they and the other officers were surprised with many holiday treats. From sweets, cards, and savory meals, the department was given many signs of gratitude from the community, and it doesn’t go unnoticed.

“We understand having to work Christmas the only thing we hate is being away from our families but it’s part of it. It’s what we do. There needs to be protection within the city, just like the firemen and the rescue squad,” Copenhaver said.

The many snacks and gracious donations to the department allow the officers to enjoy the holiday while suited in their uniforms. Even the K9 units were given Christmas gifts. As he put in his hours of work Thor enjoyed playing with his toys, not even minding to spend the holiday on the job.

In Princeton, city firefighters also spent the holiday within their station. After washing the engines and cleaning all hoses and gear after a Christmas Eve fire, the firefighters enjoyed the above-average holiday temperatures in the station’s garage.

Alongside their police officer and rescue squad counterparts, the firemen understand that a small sacrifice is worth it for the community’s safety.

“It’s positive and negative. I hate to be away from my family and things like that but it’s just an inherited thing you get with the job. Everybody has to work their shift and be away from their families,” Firefighter C.A. Vest said.

Working his first Christmas Day shift, Vest didn’t mind putting in the holiday hours. Though he’s away from his family he and his coworkers enjoyed their annual Christmas Day breakfast as well as the holiday camaraderie.

“We have to be there for the people who need us,” Vest said, regarding keeping the community safe.

Also working on the holiday, Princeton City Fire Department Captain, Fireman A.D. Beeman, also understands that spending holidays wearing the badge is part of the requirements.

“It’s our job. My family makes the sacrifices and they know we work but they know that we’re here to provide for the community and help other people in this area,” Beeman said.

To ensure that all is equal, Princeton firefighters all work their fair share of holidays to stay fair.

“It’s one of the inherent risks that we’re willing to take with this job. The families understand, we understand, and it gives the other schedule shift time to be with their families,” Beeman said.

— Contact Emily D. Coppola at ecoppola@bdtonline.com

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