NJ firefighter dies after ‘long and tough battle’ with COVID-19

Bay Head Fire Company Firefighter Dave Clark, 47, who previously served as chief engineer, died Saturday after two weeks in the hospital

Duty Death: David Clark - [Bay Head, New Jersey]

End of Service: 04/17/2020


Matt Gray
NJ Advance Media Group, Edison, N.J.

OCEAN COUNTY, N.J. — An Ocean County family and community are in mourning after the coronavirus-related death of a local firefighter.

Firefighter Dave Clark, 47, who served four years with Bay Head Fire Company No. 1, died Saturday morning following a “long and tough battle with the COVID-19 virus,” the company announced. He was hospitalized for about two weeks.

Bay Head Fire Company No. 1 Firefighter Dave Clark, 47, who previously served as chief engineer at the volunteer company, died on Saturday due to COVID-19. (Photo/Bay Head Fire Company No. 1 Facebook)
Bay Head Fire Company No. 1 Firefighter Dave Clark, 47, who previously served as chief engineer at the volunteer company, died on Saturday due to COVID-19. (Photo/Bay Head Fire Company No. 1 Facebook)

Fire Chief Joe Todisco described Clark as an outgoing, well-liked member of the department and a devoted father.

During his time with the 46-member, volunteer company, Clark filled many roles, according to Todisco. He served for a year as chief engineer, looking after the mechanical performance of the company’s vehicles, and as safety officer. He served as a firefighter for the last 12 months.

A truck driver by trade, Clark took a great interest in learning about the latest innovations in firetrucks and emergency management equipment.

“He had a tremendous interest in apparatus, Todisco said. “He would even visit different expositions where they had apparatus on display. He was into the new innovations that are coming about.”

His knowledge of what made the fire company’s vehicles tick was a huge boost for operation.

“He had a really extensive knowledge mechanically,” Todisco said. “I was impressed with how something could be wrong and he could immediately diagnose what it was and make the repair without the need of a mechanic.”

For Clark, service runs in his family. His wife, Lisa, serves with the Bay Head Fire Police, and his son, Zach, is a provisional firefighter with the company. Zack was about to be inducted as a full firefighter this month. In addition to his wife and son, Dave Clark leaves behind a daughter, Michaela.

Todisco has reached out to Lisa to offer any assistance the family may need.

“She’s probably going through a lot of pain right now,” he said. “It’s got to be difficult.”

Clark’s firefighting comrades are also feeling the loss while still serving their community during an unprecedented time.

The coronavirus has first responders on their guard, Todisco said.

“We’re scared,” he said. “We do our job, but you’re very wary of everyone. We’re doing the best we can to keep the fire department functioning.”

No one is allowed in the firehouse without a mask and no more than four firefighters are permitted on a rig when responding to a call.

Whether Clark was exposed to the virus while serving remains under investigation, Todisco said.

Ocean County has lost 212 lives to the virus so far and has reported more than 4,500 infections. Statewide, more than 4,000 have died.

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©2020 NJ Advance Media Group, Edison, N.J.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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