By Katie Nielsen

CONCORD (KPIX) — Thousands of first responders were working on Thanksgiving Day, spending the holiday away from their families but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t time to celebrate.

In the driveway behind Contra Costa County fire station 6 in downtown Concord, fire engineer Jeff Ornellas was deep-frying a turkey.

“I’d probably say I’m going on like seven years of at-work Thanksgivings. All seven have been fried,” he said laughing. “This originally started out as a crab cooker,” he explained as he stood by his deep-fryer. Now he has become the “Turkey Dude.”

The turkey cooked for an hour and a half and, within a few minutes of Ornellas pulling the bird out of the boiling oil, a medical emergency call came in to the station. Ornellas asked another firefighter to cover the turkey with foil as he and the engine crew rushed to the truck bay.

Turkey will have to wait.

“When they come back, we’ll cut it up,” said one of the other firefighters. Twenty minutes later, they were back. Thanksgiving dinner was served, complete with sparkling non-alcoholic apple cider. The co-workers have become closer than just friends.

“They’re my second family and they’re a lot more fun than my regular family,” said one of the newer firefighters, Alan Winder.

Over in Alameda County, one firefighter at Station 10 in San Leandro was able to spend the holidays with her family.

“My mom’s here celebrating this day and it’s just an honor to have her, getting to see what I do, what we do,” said firefighter Alissa Maglaty.

While celebrating Thanksgiving in the firehouse isn’t the same as the holiday scene depicted by Norman Rockwell, there’s no denying the sense of family.