The fire service, like the special operations community, is built on a foundation of tradition. Tradition informs everything from command climate and culture, to unit cohesiveness, to tactics, to day-to-day life in the unit (or the fire station).
One of the most glorious traditions of the fire service is the Sunday breakfast. Any time we have Sunday duty, we start the day with a giant home-cooked breakfast. Today, Father’s Day, this author is spending at the station, on duty. That means Sunday breakfast, on Father’s Day.
The scene is set: five to six guys huddled around a center island in the station kitchen. Burners are on, skillets are hot, and the oven blazes. One firefighter makes biscuits from scratch. He adds sugar to the recipe and our mouths water at the thought of the hot, savory-sweet biscuits smothered in gravy.
A second firefighter is making the gravy. First, he sautés the pork sausage in a cast iron skillet. Next he adds the biscuit mixture to the resulting roux. Then he adds milk. The gravy starts to thicken.
Another firefighter has started frying the bacon on an electric skillet. It takes two pounds to feed this bunch. Hot bacon grease jumps off the skillet, covering the counter and everything in range in a fine coating of delicious-smelling slickness.
The tones go off and we drop everything — turning it all off — for a house fire call. It turns out to be nothing as we arrive, and we head back to finish cooking. Another house fire call comes in on the way back, and we divert that way. We are lucky though, and again it is nothing.
Finally we make it back, and 30 eggs are cracked and scrambled. Potatoes are cut up, and fried with onions. The kitchen is thick with the smells of frying bacon and potatoes. This author’s wife and children have brought donuts too, as a Father’s Day treat. Some of us eat a couple as we cook. Others refrain, showing super-human restraint in the face of the sweet and hot sugar bombs.
Finally, breakfast is finished and we sit down to eat. Ice cold cups are filled with ice-cold orange juice. We all eat too much, and nearly slip into comas as we sit at the table like a bunch of zombies. We hope another fire call does not come in, but it does, just after we finish up cleaning the dishes.
We know it will be gut-wrenching — literally — if it is a worker, as we are all stuffed to bursting. It is not, though. Another false call. We come back to the station and settle in to lay low for the rest of the shift, almost all of us fathers away from the kids on this Father’s Day. It’s ok, though. We celebrated yesterday, and that is just part of the job, working on holidays.
Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there, and if you can, get your self a delicious home-cooked meal and enjoy your time with the family. If you are deployed overseas, know that your kids miss you and are thinking about you. Stay safe out there.
Being a Dad is the greatest job in the world and I am sure the time with the kids will pass quickly. Enjoy it while you can!