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No related incidents as bad air persists, Kent director of public safety says

Special Olympics Delaware President David Halley speaks during an informal ceremony inside Legislative Hall Thursday.

This story has been updated

DOVER — At around 6 p.m. Thursday, Kent County Department of Public Safety Director Chief Colin Faulkner said there had been no increase in calls and no incidents related to the air quality conditions resulting from Canadian wildfire smoke.

At an event at Brecknock Park in Camden Wednesday that “tended to attract an older crowd,” Mr. Faulkner said that “the fire service deployed an ambulance and Gator.

“We deployed paramedics just to stand by but they weren't needed.”

While that was good, Mr. Faulkner said “We do worry about prolonged exposure to pollutants like that and the challenge it could have for the immuno-compromised individuals.

“Examples of that are asthma, emphysema and medical conditions of that nature.”

So, Mr. Faulkner said, “We would encourage these people not to go out and exert themselves and if they do have to go out wear an N-95 mask.

“I know a lot of people are doing things. I would encourage people to stay inside and close the windows.

“I think you could turn on your air conditioner with recirculation and a filter will help stop some of the pollutants from getting into the house.”

In events like this, according to Mr. Faulkner, “We worry about our vulnerable population.

“There’s folks out there who are going to be Superman, Superwoman no matter what their ages and are going to do stuff but if we can prevent that or just one bad outcome then we’re good with that.”

When it comes to historical context, Mr. Faulkner said he’s been in emergency medical services for 47 years and “We’ve had very isolated issues, regional fires or something like that where people are affected in a 10-mile radius.

“But we’ve never seen anything this multi-state for this long, something that you can almost touch.

“It’s very tangible. You can see it, you know it’s there. Even in the morning I wake up and look out the window and see it.

“So no, I haven’t seen this go on for this long in this expansive space.

“It’s just amazing.”

Due to the air quality alert and health concerns, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Delaware was canceled Thursday and Friday.

The ceremony at Legislative Hall was moved indoors. Officials the Torch Run would not be held Friday but the Special Olympics Delaware Summer Games would proceed.

Opening ceremonies are scheduled to be held Friday at 4:15 p.m. at the Bob Carpenter Center at the University of Delaware in Newark.

Updated information is available online at

The decisions came as the state was under a Code Red Quality Red Alert, which was extended into Friday.

The alert covered New Castle County, Kent County and inland Sussex County, Delaware beaches and including the cities of Wilmington, Dover, Georgetown and Rehoboth Beach.

A Code Red Air Quality Alert means that air quality within the region may approach or exceed unhealthy standards.

For more information on current and forecast concentrations of ground-level ozone and fine particulates, visit

In the Dover area Friday, the National Weather Service forecast a slight chance of showers between noon and 3 p.m, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 3 p.m.

The forecast said some of the storms could produce small hail.
A widespread was expected and patchy smoke. The conditions were expected to be mostly sunny, with a high near 74 during the day The chance of precipitation was 50%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Showers and thunderstorms are possible before 9 p.m, then a slight chance of showers between 9 p.m. and midnight. Some of the storms could produce small hail.

A widespread haze is expected before midnight, with patchy smoke before 9 p.m. The chance of precipitation is 30%.

The noxious air impacted everything from events to government operations.
The Delaware Department of Motor Vehicles decided to cut some services for at least the day. Cash booths were left unattended — violations were not issued — with inspection lanes closed and road testing canceled in Wilmington, Delaware City and Dover.

Director Jana Simpler said staff performing these tasks stood to be exposed to harmful conditions. Pausing these services was done out of “an abundance of caution,” she said. The DMV would decide whether to resume them Friday after consulting air quality forecasts from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, she added.

The smoke put a damper on recreational activities large and small throughout the state. The YMCA of Delaware spared outdoor pools but canceled all other outdoor programs and activities on Thursday, the organization wrote in a post on social media. Abbott’s Mill Nature Center in Milford postponed that evening’s concert by a week.

In Wilmington, Delaware Park Casino and Racing was one of multiple racetracks to cancel horse races this week. Delaware Park nixed Wednesday’s and Thursday’s contests on the recommendation of Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission veterinarians and the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Authority, the racetrack wrote on its website. Racing was expected to resume Friday.

The Delaware Department of Education banned any outdoor activities and  Polytech High’s graduation ceremony in Woodside was moved inside.

When Thursday’s Torch Run segments were canceled due to poor air quality, the Probation Officer cadets from Basic Officer Training Course  No. 28 and other staff from the Delaware Department of Correction headquarters building who had been set to participate in the Dover-area segments took the Torch Run indoors, spokesman Jason Miller said.  

With the official torch in hand, runners completed a one mile loop around the Steven R. Floyd Training Academy gym and DOC administrative units.
DOC Senior Drill Instructor, Correctional Lt. Andrew Krzanowski led the indoor DOC Torch Run segment. 

“My connection with the amazing boys and girls, men and women who participate in Special Olympics began with my mother who taught kids with developmental disabilities,” Lt. Krzanowski said.

“I first had the opportunity to get involved with the Special Olympics Torch Run as a young Officer more than 20 years ago, and I have been inspired ever since to support this truly impactful organization.

“I am so proud of the hundreds of our Department of Correction employees who strongly support Special Olympics athletes by participating in the Torch Run, volunteering at competitions, and donating their money to provide opportunities for these young people to reach for the stars and achieve their full potential.”

A record 128 runners from more than 12 Department of Correction facilities statewide registered to participate in the Torch Run.

According to Special Olympics Delaware spokesman Jon Buzby Thursday, “We are so proud of our partnership with Law Enforcement throughout the state of Delaware. People only see the Torch Run once a year, but what they might not realize is that the involvement of officers with our organization happens year-round.

“And it happens in many ways - through volunteering at events to coaching our athletes to fundraisers. But perhaps the most prized element of what they do for us is when the put a medal around an athlete’s neck.

“The smiles on the faces of both the athletes and the officers when that happens are priceless, and a reminder of the true spirit of what happens when two valued and respected members of the community come together.”

Staff writer Matt McDonald contributed to this story.

Staff writer Craig Anderson can be reached at 302-741-8296 or Follow @DSNAnderson.

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