2 S.C. FD members die of COVID-19 within 24 hours

The Columbia-Richland FD is mourning the losses of Chaplain Billie Lee Bright and Battalion Chief Joseph Casey Desso


By Janelle Foskett

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Columbia, S.C., Fire Department is mourning the loss of two of its members who passed away within 24 hours of each other.

Columbia-Richland Fire Department Chaplain Billie Lee Bright II, 46, passed away on Sunday after contracting COVID-19.

Battalion Chief Joseph Casey Desso died on Monday following a brief illness. Fox57 is reporting that that Desso's death was also from COVID.

Bright joined the CRFD as a firefighter in 1998 and was ultimately promoted to captain before retiring in 2010. The Columbia Fire Department shared that, “After realizing that he still had a desire to serve his community, Bright would later become chaplain for the department and further grow in a support role for his fellow firefighters by providing comfort and counseling to them in their darkest moments.”

Desso joined the CRFD in 1997, rising through the ranks to battalion chief in 2017. The department shared: “Throughout his career, Chief Desso worked to shape firefighters and future leaders of CRFD. As a fire captain in 2016, he was recognized along with the members of his crew for their work rescuing a person that was entrapped in a burning structure.”

Columbia-Richland Chaplain Billie Lee Bright (left) died from COVID, and Battalion Chief Joseph Casey Desso following a brief illness.
Columbia-Richland Chaplain Billie Lee Bright (left) died from COVID, and Battalion Chief Joseph Casey Desso following a brief illness. (Photos/Columbia FD)

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