TAMPA, Fla. — Hillsborough County firefighters are being recognized for their efforts after a tough year working through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As 2020 has been a year like no other for the firefighters and paramedics of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, this year’s donation of a Thanksgiving meal from the Mike Alstott Family Foundation for crews to enjoy will mean more than ever, according to Fire Chief Dennis Jones.
The Foundation arrived at HCFR headquarters on Tuesday morning to box up and give away Thanksgiving dinners to all 47 fire rescue stations.
Each station crew will be driving through on Thursday morning to pick up their meal and meet former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Mike Alstott.
Firefighters working the Thanksgiving shift will be able to enjoy a proper Thanksgiving meal with their Fire Rescue family because of the foundation’s generosity, according to Jones.
A TOUGH YEAR
Jones is now calling 2020 "unprecedented" for his fire crews. It really started on March 1, when the first case here in Hillsborough County was confirmed. Jones said it has been constant since then.
"We've had to change policies and procedures, the personal protective equipment that they wear on every call now," he said.
In the meantime, Jones said the department has had close to 200 people off at one time with quarantines and more than 100 that have tested positive for COVID-19 thus far.
"And that's with all the protective measures that they rigidly and stringently follow," Jones added.
Jones said the department is also hiring more overtime than they have ever hired just to fill all the gaps and trying to keep all units in service to provide service, citing that it's been such a challenging year.
However, he said his fire crews are still there for each other.
"As the fire service family does, they stepped up they're taking each other's backs," Jones said. "They're they're looking out for each other, and more importantly, making sure that we provide that service to the citizens."