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Meals brighten holiday on the job

DeKalb, Sycamore emergency responders share food, fellowship on holiday

Even emergency service personnel who have to work on Christmas Day find time for food and fellowship.

Sycamore firefighters gathered at Station 1 for a holiday meal, with everyone contributing. Those working at the station prepared turkey, and had to improvise when they had trouble with an oven.

“I’ve grilled a turkey at home before, but never here,” said Adam Honiotes as he checked the progress of the bird. He enlisted a little help from Mike Hardesty to turn the quickly-browning turkey.

Honiotes said he celebrated with his family on Christmas Eve.

“We just wrote a letter to Santa so he came to our house early,” Honiotes said. He has four children, ages 5 months, 2, 7 and 10.

Bob Maciejewski said his family celebrates whenever they can find the time.

DeKalb firefighters took their celebration one step farther by cooking parts of the meal at each of the city’s three stations, bringing everything together at the new police station to share with on-duty police.

“They usually invite us to join them at one of the fire stations, but this is the first time we’ve all been able to sit down together in one place,” said DeKalb police Sgt. Jim Haacker.

DeKalb fire Lt. Jim Zarek said, other than preparing and sharing the big meal, Christmas was a pretty routine workday.

“We came in and did our inventory, checked all our vehicles and equipment, and now we’re just hanging out cooking,” Zarek said.

Zarek and the other four men on duty at DeKalb’s Station 1 cooked two 20-pound turkeys, two hams, 20 pounds of potatoes and stuffing. Personnel from the other two stations provided additional side dishes and desserts.

Emergency responders working on Christmas take it all in stride, understanding that working on holidays is just part of the job.

“It’s just another day,” said fire Lt. Keith Fritz.

As Fritz spoke, his radio crackled with a medical call for another station.

“This is how we live our life – one call at a time,” Fritz said.

Zarek, a DeKalb firefighter for 24 years, said they can expect more medical calls as the day continues.

“People overeat and put stress on their hearts,” Zarek said.

“And occasionally a domestic after somebody’s had a little too much wine,” Fritz added.

At the police station, the breakroom kitchen counter was laid a little heavier with food as each group arrived with contributions to the meal. Smiles, handshakes and good-natured jokes were shared as emergency personnel gathered to break bread.

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