Away from family on Thanksgiving, metro firefighters thankful for ‘second family’

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SHAWNEE, Kan. -- Thanksgiving is a time for families and friends to gather and celebrate the holiday with a meal, some conversation and football.

But there were men and women who spent the day away from their families, in uniform and protecting the community. They did this with colleagues they consider a second family.

"We work together at least three days a week 24 hours at a time. We spend a lot of time together and the guys and gals here become our family. Our extended family," said Brent Fernandez, a Shawnee firefighter.

Fernandez said in his 20 years with the department, he's spent many holidays away from his wife and kids. But he said there is something special about being at work on the holidays with his crew.

"Being able to hang out and spend Thanksgiving together -- at least we're together. We're in it together," Fernandez said.

Mike Schubert, an 8-year veteran of the Shawnee Fire Department, said the holiday calls are hard to predict, but he knows the camaraderie is always there.

"That bond comes from shared blood, sweat and tears in training and calls. We fortunately have an ability to form a different bond than I think anybody else would." Schubert said with a smile. "This guy here is just as much a brother as my real brother or sister would be except I like him less."

During FOX4's Thanksgiving ride-along, the C-shift at Shawnee was called out just one time. But at any time, they could get a call that keeps the shift working for hours on end. It's work the shift said they do in order to benefit the community they signed up to serve.

"I run everything from people being super sick to house fires to car crashes. Every day is different. There is nothing normal to working here. Whatever the day brings is a gamble," Schubert said.

"We love our jobs, helping people, and I don`t think there`s any greater satisfaction than helping people and seeing how the training can affect people in a positive way," Fernandez said.

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