On-duty firefighters share Thanksgiving meal with “second family”

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – Thanksgiving is usually shared with close friends and family, but for first responders, things are a little different.

Beckley fire department stations are staffed 24/7, meaning not everyone gets to see their loved ones on the holidays.

“It actually is my first Thanksgiving on duty,” said firefighter James Meadows. “I was okay with it, but my mom wasn’t too happy about it.”

Year after year, Beckley firefighters find their own way to celebrate what they’re thankful for: a second family bonded together through tough situations.

“We go into a lot of dangerous situations,” said Lt. Clifton Laws. “We never know what we’re going to face and we really need to have that camaraderie to know we’ve got each other’s backs.”

The three stations each bring something different to the table, much like they do on the job. Some make the main course while others focus on the sides.

“This year, we have the smoker going [to make] a pork shoulder and we’re actually going to fry a turkey as well,” said Laws. “Station one is handling the sides, so I’m not sure exactly what they do. Lt. Rick Fisher makes some delicious green beans and bacon, so maybe that’s on the menu.”

“I’m actually super excited,” said Meadows. “It is a second family when you come here. It’s friends and family, so I’m happy to be here.”

Since the shift on duty won’t get to celebrate with family today, some plan weekend celebrations.

Kassie Simmons
Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.