42-year-old Clayton firefighter dies after battling COVID-19
Posted September 23, 2020 9:06 a.m. EDT
Updated September 23, 2020 6:34 p.m. EDT
Clayton, N.C. — Officials on Wednesday announced the death of Jason Dean, a 20-year member of the Clayton Fire Department.
Dean, 42, died from complications of COVID-19, officials said. Dean was the deputy chief of operations and training.
Dean leaves behind his wife of 16 years, Kristy, and their two daughters, 7-year-old Harper and 13-year-old Addie.
Kristy Dean said in August her husband had developed pneumonia and was on a ventilator. Dean was in the hospital for one month.
The fire truck Dean drove was parked Wednesday in front of Clayton Fire Station One with a black cloth draped over it.
"The entire Town of Clayton family sends its deepest and most sincere condolences to the Dean family," officials said. "We ask that everyone respect their privacy at this time of mourning. They would not like any visitors at this time, nor should flowers or other items be brought to the family or the fire stations."
Donations can be made in Dean's honor to the Clayton Firefighters Association.
Firefighters and other first responders who work closely with the public are especially at risk for COVID-19. In August, the Clayton Fire Department said at least 17 of its firefighters on staff had tested positive for COVID-19.
"We had daily been disinfecting the station and equipment, but social distancing isn’t always easy to do when responding to emergencies or living together under one roof," said Fire Chief Lee Barbee. "Many don’t realize our firefighters respond to more than just fires, in fact, they respond mostly to medical calls and car accidents, and that includes going into homes and coming into close contact with patients who may have COVID-19."
Barbee said the other firefighters have been working extra shifts to fill in the gaps. Some firefighters are working 36-hour shifts to cover for the firefighters who are out.
He said there is a full disinfection of the station on each shift change with other measures in place to further promote social distancing such as spacing out sleeping quarters and when and where they eat their meals.