San Diego

First firefighter in San Diego County to lose his battle with COVID

“Everyone just loved him. He set the example for our organization of what a true firefighter is.”

RANCHO SANTA FE, Calif. — Captain Chris Mertz with the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District died Wednesday after contracting the virus simply after Christmas. 

“Everyone just loved him.  He set the example for our organization of what a true firefighter is,” Fire Chief Fred Cox stated.

The American flag exterior Station 5 in Harmony Grove stands at half-staff, as a method to honor the 30-year veteran.

“Not only was he a member here for 30 years, he worked for the United States Forest Service, and served on the elite hotshot crew,” Cox stated. “He also worked for San Diego Federal Fire and then he came here and we hired him.”

Chief Cox wasn’t simply Chris’s boss, he was additionally his pal. The two bonded over their love of firefighting, and their lives exterior it, which centered round household. “And I really admired his family life. They did everything,” Cox stated. 

Chris was a husband and father of three. His son is now a firefighter with Cal Fire San Diego and his two daughters are each in the Air Force.

During his career, Chris responded to 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina with Search and Rescue. Chief Cox stated that Chris was at all times the primary to volunteer.

His dedication remained fixed, even after contracting COVID-19. It was simply after Christmas when Chris began getting complications and feeling fatigued. It’s believed he might have contracted the virus responding to a name.

After telling Chief Cox he deliberate to be again quickly, Chris was admitted to the hospital. “And he never came out,” Cox stated.

Chris died Wednesday evening. He was 54 years outdated.

RELATED: San Diego studies file 79 COVID-19 deaths, 2,847 new circumstances

Battalion Chief Bret Davidson spoke to him throughout his closing days.

“He said he was coughing so much he couldn’t catch his breath, but he didn’t think he had trouble breathing just that he was coughing but they brought him into the hospital and his 02 saturations were low,” Davidson stated.

Like so many others who’ve dealt with the lack of a beloved one to COVID-19, Chief Davidson says he by no means thought Chris would not make it by means of. If something, he hopes Chris’s loss evokes folks to take the virus critically by training security precautions and getting the vaccine.

Chris’s loss of life marks the second loss this district has dealt with in simply the previous two months. In November, one other captain dedicated suicide.

Chief Cox admits it hasn’t been straightforward, however they’re supporting one another one of the simplest ways they’ll. “Sometimes we have to dig deep and that’s what we’re doing now,” Cox stated. “We’re digging really deep.”

The Rancho Santa Fe Fire Foundation is accepting donations in Chris’s memory. Funeral preparations are pending.

RELATED: Rancho Santa Fe firefighter dies of COVID-19

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