GARDEN VALLEY, Idaho — Garden Valley Fire Chief Jon Delvalle died Tuesday, Sept. 14 from complications of COVID-19, the department announced.
"We ask that everyone in our community keep Chief Delvalle's family and the many Garden Valley Fire Department volunteers and employees in their thoughts and prayers as we move through this most difficult time," Garden Valley Fire wrote.
According to Garden Valley Fire, Delvalle was not vaccinated.
A total of 2,687 Idahoans have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic reached the state in March 2020.
Deanna Paine, a paramedic with the department, told KTVB that Delvalle had been exposed to a patient who was "extremely sick" with COVID-19 on the job five days before he fell ill. His death is being considered a "line of duty injury."
Robert Glankler is serving as acting fire chief, while the search continues for a replacement. He recalls Delvalle's many achievements.
"When he first came here you could tell that it was a department that needed a lot of upgrading and positive thinking and he's changed a lot of this fire department. Now we have three stations that we keep apparatus at and we have a lot more people responding to calls," Glankler said.
Delvalle had training and certifications in swift water rescue, technical rescue, rope rescue, hazardous material management, wildland fighting, and advanced EMS skills.
"He was a great person, honestly probably the most brilliant person I've ever met, he has every question he could possibly answer on the top of his head, he was a great leader and we miss him a lot," said Austin Fields, a firefighter and EMT at the Garden Valley Fire Protection District.
Delvalle battled COVID for a month in the hospital. Fields said he fought until the very last moment.
"It was just shock, he's always been such a strong rash person, so to find out that he wasn't able to put up the fight anymore, was really hard for us," Fields said. "You don't imagine something like a virus taking down a hero, that's truly what he was."
Fields added that every day at the fire department is different but filled with emotions, while they move ahead in honoring him the best way they can.
Community members think highly of Delvalle and remember him as someone who brought the community together. Marcia Hefner is the owner of the Trading Post in Crouch, and said Delvalle would come in often to visit.
"He was just enjoyable to talk with and I'm gonna miss the dedication that he had for us, that he cared a lot for the community it was, very, very hard," said Hefner. "He's going to be really missed that's for sure, really devastated is all."
Hefner said Delvalle was planning to retire in three years.
A memorial service for Delvalle will take place on Saturday, October 2 in Crouch.