Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion Jay Kane (left) and Kole McCaughey (right) manned  Nikiski Fire Station 1 on Christmas Day. Usually, Christmas Day is pretty slow, and the two had plans to make a ham to celebrate.

Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion Jay Kane (left) and Kole McCaughey (right) manned Nikiski Fire Station 1 on Christmas Day. Usually, Christmas Day is pretty slow, and the two had plans to make a ham to celebrate.

Central Peninsula first responders spend quiet Christmas Day at stations

Editor’s Note: This story has been edited to correct the spelling of Kole McCaughey’s and Justin Horton’s names. 

Other than the carols ringing from a portable speaker nestled safely on the treadmill, Nikiski Fire Station 1 was quiet on Christmas Day.

“It’s just the two of us and the guys up at (Nikiski Fire) Station 2,” said Kole McCaughey, the engineer on duty. “Usually, it’s pretty quiet. We do chores, that sort of thing.”

Chores and, of course, make a Christmas ham. McCaughey and Jay Kane, who manned the station together on the holiday, were planning to roast a ham. They’d be ready to go at a moment’s notice if a call came in, but until then, it was regular station duty.

Working on Christmas Day is fairly common in the U.S. About one-third of Americans expected to work on Christmas, Thanksgiving or New Year’s Day, according to the third-quarter 2015 Allstate/Heartland Monitor poll. That is the norm for hospital staff, emergency responders and corrections officers, among other professions.

But most find a way to celebrate the holiday anyway. Kane said he took his holiday early to visit family in Oregon, and McCaughey said he spent a few hours with his family early Christmas morning before reporting for duty at 8 a.m.

“We got up at 6 (a.m.), snuck in a few hours before I had to be here,” McCaughey said.

Others celebrated a few days early or late. Kenai Fire Department firefighter Mark Anderson said his family celebrated a few days before, as he knew he would be on duty on Christmas Day. At the station, he was minding a turkey cooking in the oven for the firefighters’ own Christmas dinner Friday.

It was a quiet day for Kenai as well as Nikiski. The four firefighters on duty in Kenai had only had one callout all day by mid-afternoon, and it was cancelled as they made their way to the scene. That left the firefighters at the station most of the day, ready to go but waiting — thankfully, they said.

“Like we say, (callouts are) something for us, but somebody else is having a terrible day,” said firefighter Abe Porter.

Kenai’s Christmas dinner is a fairly small affair compared to the fete at Central Emergency Services, where the staff and volunteers and their families gathered at the Soldotna station for a joint Christmas dinner. All the shifts have their own celebration on the days around Christmas.

“If there’s a callout, we would respond from here,” said Shawn Killian, who was captain on duty on Christmas Day. “But it’s been pretty quiet. We’ve had one callout today, and it was for a dog somebody thought they spotted in the river.”

Not that the firefighters would dread a call. Firefighter Justin Horton with the Kenai Fire Department, who said this was his first Christmas Day on duty, said sometimes the time just drags on after the chores are finished, the reports are checked and the rigs are inspected.

“That’s when you kind of think, ‘Man, I wish I could just press a fast-forward button and make the time go faster,’” Horton said jokingly.

Sometimes the calls are not all urgent crises, either. Kane and McCaughey said they have helped people shovel their snow before and responded to false alarms. But it is an opportunity to see what the community needs. In the past, they have responded to someone on duty that they will then help later. McCaughey said he has gotten off duty and helped people get firewood from the local church or gone to cut it himself if they need it.

“This community is amazing,” McCaughey said. “We really enjoy the chance to help out.”

 

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion The firefighters on shift at the Kenai Fire Department on Christmas Day had a quiet day - thankfully, they said. There was only one callout by mid-afternoon, and it was cancelled halfway there.

Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion The firefighters on shift at the Kenai Fire Department on Christmas Day had a quiet day – thankfully, they said. There was only one callout by mid-afternoon, and it was cancelled halfway there.

Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion Firefighter Nate Nelson prepares the turkey for the joint Central Emergency Services Christmas dinner Friday afternoon. The volunteers and staff from the various stations and their families come to the Soldotna station and share in a holiday meal.

Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion Firefighter Nate Nelson prepares the turkey for the joint Central Emergency Services Christmas dinner Friday afternoon. The volunteers and staff from the various stations and their families come to the Soldotna station and share in a holiday meal.

Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion Firefighters Matt Seizy (front) and Nate Nelson (back) took on the task of dividing up the turkeys for the joint Central Emergency Services dinner Christmas Day.

Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion Firefighters Matt Seizy (front) and Nate Nelson (back) took on the task of dividing up the turkeys for the joint Central Emergency Services dinner Christmas Day.

Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion The staff at Central Emergency Services gathered at the Soldotna station for Christmas but were ready to go at a moment's notice, with the engines running outside. However, there was only one callout on Christmas day by mid-afternoon.

Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion The staff at Central Emergency Services gathered at the Soldotna station for Christmas but were ready to go at a moment’s notice, with the engines running outside. However, there was only one callout on Christmas day by mid-afternoon.

Central Peninsula first responders spend quiet Christmas Day at stations

Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion The staff at Central Emergency Services gathered at the Soldotna station for Christmas but were ready to go at a moment’s notice, with the engines running outside. However, there was only one callout on Christmas day by mid-afternoon.

More in News

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

The Kasilof River is seen from the Kasilof River Recreation Area, July 30, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
King salmon fishing closed on Kasilof starting Monday

The emergency order is being issued to protect returning king salmon, citing weak returns

Soldotna City Hall is seen on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna’s city council appropriates funds for FY 2025 capital projects

Improvements are described for streets, police facility, Soldotna Creek Park and Soldotna Community Memorial Park

Gina Plank processes sockeye salmon caught on the first day of Kenai River dipnetting with her table set up on the bank of the Kenai River in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai River open for dipnetting

As of Tuesday, a total of 226,000 sockeye had been counted in the Kenai River’s late run

Assembly Vice President Tyson Cox speaks during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly won’t pursue further discussion on tabled bed tax resolution

Members say they’re going to work on a new version of the idea this winter

Gov. Mike Dunleavy pictured with members of the House majority after signing the fiscal year 2025 budget bills, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Anchorage, Alaska. From left to right: Reps. Stanley Wright, Tom McKay, Thomas Baker, Craig Johnson, Kevin McCabe, Julie Coulombe and Laddie Shaw. (Photo provided by Office of the Governor)
Dunleavy signs capital budget with $3.7M in state funding for Kenai Peninsula, vetoes $3.3M

Roughly $90 million in federal funding also allocated to Kenai Peninsula

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Soldotna man arrested Friday after 30-minute police chase

The man had an outstanding warrant for felony probation violation

Most Read