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COVID-19 takes a heavy toll on Houston Fire Department

HFD chaplain Bobby Delgado said, “It’s been an extremely tough time and an extremely dark period in our department’s history.”

HOUSTON, Texas — This week marked the third COVID-19 related death of a Houston firefighter since the pandemic began.

Capt. Tommy Searcy died from coronavirus complications after being hospitalized in The Woodlands.

“It’s been an extremely tough time and an extremely dark period in our department’s history," HFD Chaplain Bobby Delgado said.

Delgado is one of HFD’s 16 chaplains who provide emotional and spiritual support to its department.

He said their job is to be there for the more than 3,700 firefighters when they’re most needed.

“Just this morning I was creating a list, a care list, on who from Capt. Searcy’s crew and friends in the department closest to him do we need to touch and check on to make sure they’re alright,” Delgado said.

On Tuesday, Searcy became HFD’s third line of duty death this year because of COVID-19 along with Capt. Leroy Lucio and firefighter Jerry Pacheco.

“We deal with death and destruction every day but when it’s one of your own it really hits home,” Delgado said.

Also, he said the pandemic has taken an emotional and physical toll on its members including suicide, depression and PTSD.

"When you throw all this extra stuff on us, that COVID has brought, it just adds more pressure and many people are at the breaking point," he said.

However, Delgado said they cope and honor the legacies of their fallen brothers by showing up to work every day.

He asks the community to show their support for HFD by writing a thank you card or stopping by a fire station to show their appreciation.

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