NC deputy fire chief dies from COVID-19 after department outbreak
Clayton Deputy Chief of Operations and Training Jason Dean, 42, a 20-year department veteran, was one of 17 Clayton firefighters who tested positive for the virus
Duty Death: Jason Daniel Dean - [Clayton, North Carolina]
End of Service: 09/22/2020
The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
CLAYTON, N.C. — A 42-year-old deputy fire chief as died of complications from COVID-19 one month after an outbreak struck 17 people at the Clayton Fire Department.
Jason Dean, deputy chief of operations and training for the Johnston County department, died early Wednesday, the town reported.
“This beloved 20-year veteran of our firefighting family died overnight after a hard fight against the complications of COVID-19,” town spokeswoman Stacy Beard said in a news release. “The entire Town of Clayton family sends its deepest and most sincere condolences to the Dean family. We ask that everyone respect their privacy at this time of mourning.”
Health officials have been unable to learn how the outbreak began, the town reported in August, but the first sick firefighter led to four positive COVID-19 test results on the same shift. Soon, 17 in all had tested positive from the department’s three shifts.
Of those, three were hospitalized.
Fire Chief Lee Barbee said the department was sanitized daily and firefighters tried to keep social distance. But staying 6 feet apart is difficult when responding to car crashes and medical calls, he said.
“They don’t eat at the table together anymore — they eat alone,” Barbee said in August. “The bunk rooms they share have now been moved and only one person sleeps in a room. That means some sleeping in the training room or the small gym room.”
Dean is survived by his wife, Kristy, and his two daughters, Addie and Harper, aged 13 and 7.
Funeral arrangements are pending. Donations to the Clayton Firefighters Association can be made in Dean’s honor through ClaytonFire.org and will be given to the family and other firefighters still battling COVID-19.
©2020 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)