On January 4, Captain Chris Mertz, a firefighter for Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District, was hospitalized with severe COVID, to which he succumbed on January 20. Captain Mertz spent his life serving others as a member of FEMA’s program Urban Search & Rescue San Diego Task Force 8. He also volunteered to go to New York post-9/11 to help in the search for civilians and his fellow first responders. He then went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Captain Mertz touched so many lives as a firefighter but also performed with his fire brothers in the CSFA Pipes & Drums band for fundraisers, funerals, and other events; and found time to volunteer at his kids’ schools and with the Boy Scouts. On February 6, a procession of fire vehicles and cars with family members traveled from Rancho Santa Fe Fire Station #3 to a private celebration of life which took place at North Coast Calvary Chapel.