Central Florida first responders hit hard from COVID-19; Saturday funeral procession held for Melbourne firefighter


ORLANDO, Fla. – Central Florida first responders are taking a major blow this month after multiple deaths related to COVID-19 were reported.

On Saturday, a funeral procession for 22-year veteran Melbourne Fire Department’s Driver Engineer Scott Allender was heartbreaking to watch as first responders honored one of their own.

The Melbourne Fire Department and other first responders honored the life of Allender, who died at the beginning of August. Allender had been battling COVID-19 since July.

“Scott Allender was an important and vibrant member of the Melbourne Fire Department and will be dearly missed by all who knew him,” Fire Chief Chuck Bogle said in a Facebook post.

The procession comes as other first responders are having a tough time fighting COVID-19.

The International Association of Firefighters in July issued a statement encouraging all firefighters and medical personnel to get vaccinated.

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Central Florida saw multiple first responders die due to COVID-19.

In Orange County, Deputy First Class Craig Seijos, 54, died from COVID complications on Aug. 5. A funeral service was held Thursday.

Hope still remains for one officer in Howey-in-the-Hills, John Hamlink, who is currently intubated at Advent Health’s Waterman Hospital.

His wife said he is stable, but has a long fight ahead of him.

“Although the numbers are jumping around, he’s not recovering as they had hoped, however I am a woman of faith,” Gay Lynn Hamelink said.

Faith is something all departments and people News 6 has been covering said they are leaning on as first responders continue to service their community while battling COVID-19.

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