KCFD loses 2 department members to COVID-19

Billy Birmingham2.jpg
Posted at 3:43 PM, Nov 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-26 00:07:21-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City, Missouri, Fire Department has lost two of its own to the novel coronavirus since March.

Cpt. Robert “Bobby” Rocha, a 29-year veteran of the department, died Saturday, and EMT Billy Birmingham died in April.

Rocha, 59, was a member of Station 18 and had been with KCFD since 1991. Birmingham, 69, had a 22-year career with KCFD.

KCFD Fire Chief Donna Lake acknowledged the line-of-duty deaths Saturday, stating that it has been “a difficult time for us all.”

More than 100 KCFD firefighters have tested positive for the virus.

Shortly after the pandemic began, KCFD crews began wearing masks and gowns on medical calls, among other forms of protection. Those safety measures remained unaltered following Birmingham’s death.

However, amid the pandemic and the resulting safety protocols, KCFD has tried to keep its traditions of honoring those who have fallen in the line of duty as normal as possible.

In Kansas City, Kansas, 72 firefighters have contracted COVID-19, five of whom were hospitalized, as of Friday.

Nationally, 18 firefighters in the United States and Canada have died after contracting COVID-19, according to Saturday's data from the International Association of Firefighters, and 144 have been hospitalized due to the virus.

Editor's note: The article has been updated to reflect Capt. Robert "Bobby" Rocha's age.