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Clayton Fire Department Asks for Community's Support

08/23/2020

UPDATE: Monday, August 24, 2020

So many of you have reached out wanting to know how you can help our Clayton Fire Department families - that IS the mission of the Clayton Firefighters AssociationFirst Citizens Bank of Clayton has set up an online link for monetary donations. Right now, many of our firefighters and their families don't know what kind of support they need, but we know they will face medical bills, gas to and from the hospital, and every day expenses. Any and all money we collect will be going to the families. https://donate.xpress-pay.com/org/CEC6DBFFB360449

For those of you who feel like you have items or gift cards to donate, the wonderful staff of Clayton High School, under the leadership of Principal Bennett Jones, have graciously agreed to be a donation collection site. Drop-offs can be made from 8-10 a.m. or 1-3 p.m. Monday through Friday beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, August 25th at the Jeff Adams Gymnasium on the school campus just off Fayetteville Street and US 70. Signs will be posted. Items can be placed on carts to be wheeled into the school and detoxed before distribution, a set-up they had already been using to detox school supplies.

If you'd rather mail a check, you can make it out to the Clayton Firefighters Association, PO Box 155, Clayton, NC 27528. The overwhelming well-wishes have already meant so much to our fire family, but anything you can give at this difficult is very much appreciate.


UPDATE: Sunday, August 23, 2020

A somber update for this Sunday night - we now have 5 people in the hospital - that's one more firefighter since last count and, now, the spouse of a firefighter as well – for a total of 5 hospitalized. This is very serious.

We have been humbled and blessed by the outpouring of support - this post has reached more than a quarter million people - but at this time we are asking for the public, PLEASE, DO NOT drop off items at the Clayton Fire stations. So many people want to help, but we need to be VIGILANT and not expose the public, our firefighters, or their families any more than necessary.

The Clayton Firefighters Association is coordinating with our families about their needs and we will have more information tomorrow (Monday) about how the public can best help. At this time, they do not need to be overwhelmed with items that will need to be detoxed, organized and distributed. We just need a little more time - thanks for everyone's patience!

We're so SO touched by this community! You HAVE indeed lifted up our firefighters and their families with your messages! THANK YOU!


Saturday, 8/22/2020
A message from Clayton Fire Chief Lee Barbee:

Today, I'd like to share a message and plea with the Clayton community: our firefighters and their families need your prayers and support.

Six months into the pandemic and COVID-19 finally came knocking at our fire house door. About two weeks ago, a firefighter didn’t feel well and let us know immediately. 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. 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. Health officials haven’t been able to help us trace exactly how our first firefighters were infected, but as of this morning, 17 Clayton firefighters have tested positive and three of them are now in the hospital.

And that’s why we need your thoughts and prayers more than ever. Firefighters are family and they also consider the community their family. We can’t name the employees at this time, but we can tell you their loved ones are worried and hurting. Right now, the families haven’t asked for anything specifically – only to know their community is behind them and holding them up their prayers.

The firefighters who remain working are hurting too…they’re covering for their fire brothers and sisters, gladly filling in shifts, and they haven’t missed a single beat in responding to calls. But the normal comradery enjoyed in this high-risk, stress-filled occupation has now turned to isolation. They don’t eat at the table together anymore – they eat alone. 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. They do a full disinfection of the station on each shift change. The updates from the outgoing shift to the firefighters coming on duty are now done by telephone, not in person – in fact, those going home walk out one door and those coming on shift go out another, so they can’t do their routine in-person debrief after their 24 or 36-hour shifts. They wear N95 masks at all times in the firehouse, unless they’re in a room by themselves. Those who tested positive but are displaying no symptoms are having to remain home in quarantine…and that eats them up, they want to be back on the job. And some have commented that they sense a subtle change in the way the public is reacting to them when they see them out in uniform…it’s not intentional and it’s understood in this time of uncertainty.

We aren’t saying this to garner sympathy or to bring unwanted attention to our fire families, but simply for the public we serve to know – we’re taking all the necessary precautions to prevent further spread, to stay healthy and to remain ready to respond when you need us most.

One of our firefighters closes out every email this way: “Providing Prompt Professional Services with Pride! Everyone Goes Home!” Thank you, Clayton, for your continued support in that mission. We’re hopeful for the day when ALL of our firefighters can come back home…to the firehouse.

     --- Clayton Fire Chief Lee Barbee

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